Si the snake catcher

Published 3:50 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Summer is the best time for snake catching and soon to be fourth grader Si Sones is enthralled with catching the slithering specimens. A middle child, he has settled into his role of reptile and wildlife enthusiast in the family. 

His dad Sam Sones has a fascination with snakes and is one of the inspirations in Si learning about them. A pond by their house has yielded the majority of his catches using minnows to catch water snakes. 

Sometimes he is able to locate a king, corn, rat or hognose snake around the property. The first snake he caught by himself was along a creek bed. It was one of the few times he and his dad have been able to purposefully look for snakes and find one. Si said usually they are found when you least expect it. 

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His dad explained the speckled king snake was sitting on a branch overlooking a pool of water when they spotted him. Si was able to get a hold of him and calmly handle him even as the snake proceeded to bite his hand. His adrenaline helped in the moment. 

“It was my favorite catch ever. The bites felt like a little pinch. Most people think it hurts but it doesn’t,” Si said. “We let it go. Whenever I look for snakes I just look around trees and stuff but you usually find them by accident. One reason I like snakes is because they are super hard to find. If they were easy to find I wouldn’t like it as much.” 

Si’s favorite snake is the speckled king snake because they eat the venomous snakes. He has a speckled king named “King,” and a ball python named Bowler. The snakes are fed mice and live a happy life. Sam said they are trying to add some weight to the king snake before releasing him back to the wild. King once escaped his enclosure and set up shop in the closet of Si’s sister, Si said. 

He said he has caught a ribbon snake in a sand pit and a garter snake from his cousin’s pools. Usually, he picks a snake up and allows them to slither through his hands and admires the snake before letting it go. Even if he can’t catch a snake he enjoys watching them in the wild. 

One day Si hopes to become a wildlife biologist and work with snakes. He enjoys catching bullfrogs around the pond and turtles in addition to wrangling snakes. Si has caught an alligator snapping turtle, several box turtles and a yellow bellied slider turtle.

Mississippi is home to six venomous snakes. Most snake bites occur because people accidentally step on one or when they try to handle or kill a snake. Si said he has learned how to tell if a snake is venomous and if there is any question he doesn’t try to catch the snake.

“All of Mississippi’s venomous snakes are pit vipers. They have pits under their noses and a line in their eyes like a cat,” Si said. “With coral snakes, if red touches yellow it will kill a fellow but if red touches black venom it lacks. Once I was at my grandparents’ back yard when I heard my cousin scream ‘snake,’ I ran over while they were running away.”

His dad and YouTube are two places where he learns a lot about snakes. Brave Wilderness is a YouTube channel where Si learns from a wildlife biologist handling snakes. His dad is a member of a facebook page about snakes and will show Si the different species found on there. 

Snakes, frogs and turtles are all cool to Si but he has one kryptonite, spiders. Si said he doesn’t like them. 

“Spiders are scary. I would rather pick snakes over spiders and most people wouldn’t,” Si said. “I think people are scared of snakes because they slither and they get the creeps. People should know they don’t have to kill snakes. You don’t want them to go extinct, even the venomous ones play a role in nature.”