Last week I went to remove a half sheet of plywood that was lying in some tall grass.

I am a country boy and have learned there are certain times not to reach under something with a bare hand.

Using a crowbar, I lifted up the board and, sure enough, there it was.

Officially it was a Thamnophis sirtalis or what we call the common garter snake.

This one, and its sibling that I found later, was identifiable by the yellow stripe down its back.

Now I am not real fond of snakes and will most likely have another nightmare after writing this.

The garter snake is pretty harmless. They tend to prefer moist, grassy areas and are often found in cities where there is cover such as debris, vegetation, logs, rocks and, of course, boards.

There are other animals that I have encountered that are not as harmless.

• Mustang — This is a horse that is free-roaming and a descendent of horses brought to America by the Spanish. While they are often wild horses and can be referred to a broncos, one of the horses used by the Fort Riley Commanding General’s Color Guard at the Symphony at Sunset was a mustang.

• Bobcat — Though shy, bobcats are often seen around this area. The bobcat is also known as a wildcat, the mascot for Kansas State University. Relatives of the bobcat include the jaguar, cheetah, cougar and puma.

• Bison — While not usually threatening, a buffalo turned aggressive at the Manhattan Zoo years ago. Our son Ryan was probably 7 years old, standing by the fence that separated him from the animal he was watching. While Ryan did nothing to provoke the animal, it charged at him and was stopped only by the fence between them.

• Cobra — While the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act is a health insurance program and a Cobra is a leading golf club manufacturer, it is also a snake which expands the neck ribs to form a hood. The cobra is part of the viper family of venomous snakes found in most parts of the world.

• Barracuda — While it is also the title of a famous song by the band Heart, a barracuda is a saltwater fish that is known for its fearsome appearance and ferocious behavior.

• Ram — Not native to this part of the country, bighorn sheep are often spotted in the mountains of Colorado. Rams are famous for their long curved horns which they use to settle arguments by ramming their heads into each other.

Some of the other things I have encountered are wasps, foxes, beetles, eagles, hornets, stingrays and thunderbirds, just to name a few.

All of these are also the names of vehicles that many of us have dodged while trying to cross Third Street at Broadway.

According to the “Kansas Driving Handbook”, motorists should yield to pedestrians. The handbook reads:

“The following right-of-way rules apply at intersections:

“You must yield to pedestrians at all times. Even if they are jaywalking or crossing the street where they should not be, you must stop for them.

“When crossing a sidewalk to enter or exit a driveway, alley or parking lot you must yield to pedestrians. It is illegal to drive on a sidewalk except to cross it, such as at a driveway.”

Crossing the street doesn’t usually give me nightmares like those snakes, though.

Contact Tim Horan at

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