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VOL. 45 | NO. 27 | Friday, July 2, 2021

New to town? Here’s the lowdown on snakes to avoid

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Tennessee is loaded with snakes, and many are eager to share their habitation with humans. Certainly, they have enjoyed their time among us over the past several thousand years.

Since the publication of the Bible – and its first chapter, aptly named Genesis – snakes have gotten a bad rap. The snake lovers on Facebook’s Tennessee snake identification and education page say snakes have been unfairly vilified. The admin people on that page know their snakes and can identify them with ease, even those regular Tennesseans might find confusing.

One of the first things they want you to know is it’s illegal to kill a snake in the state of Tennessee. If there is a situation in which the person or its pets or livestock may be subject to bodily harm by the aforementioned reptile, it is acceptable to kill the attacker. But there has to be a better reason than they scare most people.

Regardless of what has been written or passed down from generation to generation, there are no poisonous snakes. There are venomous snakes and non-venomous snakes. Any mention of poisonous snakes on the Facebook page will result in a tongue lashing, as the person alluding to poison is speaking with forked tongue, much like that of the snake.

In Tennessee, there are three venous snakes:

• The timber rattlesnakes (crotalus horridus)

• The water moccasin, also known as a venomous northern cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)

• The copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)

Some say there have been no cottonmouth sightings in Nashville in a decade, that they are only seen west of Music City. These experts say most of the snakes in water in the region are common – and harmless – water snakes.

Others argue cottonmouths are aggressive and often jump in fishing boats in order to inflict their ire upon the innocent boater.

Copperheads are the most feared by many in the Facebook group as they are the most fearless of their belly crawling brethren, and more prevalent. Additionally, unlike rattlesnakes, they do not warn passersby before striking.

All of these venomous snakes use their venom to kill their prey. Realizing that they are not hungry enough to devour an entire human being, they are not eager to expend their venom – not poison – to kill mankind.

In the case of rattlesnakes, they begin to rattle to avoid any sort of conflict. Should the homo sapiens continue to pursue, the rattlesnake might strike, and their spring is of a Michael Jordan nature.

Once airborne and flying in the direction of the enemy, they have three choices:

• Butt the person in hopes it will have the good sense to leave

• Bite and not secrete venom

• Bite and secrete venom, largely because the snake feels it is in danger.

While usually not deadly, the bite is painful and can cause considerable damage. New homeowners in the area should avoid all snakes with triangular shaped heads. Vipers have those, as do some harmless snakes impersonating the venomous variety.

Most snakes should be the friends of homeowners since they eat things the things we don’t like: Rodents, insects and other snakes.

If confronted with a snake, the best advice is a page from Monty Python: “Run away!”

Sale of the Week

A house selling for $7 million used to be really big news. Last week, 116 Jackson Boulevard sold for $7 million, only to be overshadowed by 211 Deer Park Drive, which sold for $7.25 million. Two $7 million-plus houses in one week is impressive in any market, especially located a par 5 away from each other.

The house at 116 Jackson was owned by Jimmie Perkins, a past president of Belle Meade Country Club, whose success in the petroleum and gasoline industry is legendary. He was president of Consumers Gasoline Stations, a company that operated 46 Scot Markets in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. Additionally, he had operated Red Ace Petroleum, a business his family acquired in 1972.

Perkins had purchased the home in May 1977 for $485,000 from the renowned physician Laurence Grossman, who purchased it in January of that year. Flipping the house for $55,000 in four months in 1977 was no small feat. That income may have rivaled his medical practice at the time.

Perkins attended the University of the South and Vanderbilt University, an institution which, coincidentally, owned the house at 116 Jackson Boulevard, a mansion just across the way from the Perkins estate. Vanderbilt bought the property in 1964 before selling it last week for $7.25 million.

As is usually the case, Steve Fridrich was involved in both deals, representing his alma mater, Vanderbilt, in the sale of the former residence of the former chancellors. Janet Jones, one of the founders of Worth Properties, delivered the $7 million buyer.

Susan Dale, niece of Jimmie Perkins and a Realtor with Fridrich and Clark, was the listing agent for the Perkins home, and Steve Fridrich brought the buyer to the Jackson Boulevard property located on 6.81 acres atop the hill overlooking Richland Creek as it flows next to Harding Road.

The house includes 9,608 square feet with six bedrooms and five full bathrooms in the main dwelling and another 1,098 feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom in the guest house. It was designed by Bryant Fleming and Herbert Rodgers and boasts “an abundant statuary and fabulous horticulture” Dale said in the listing.

Not to be outdone, the 211 Deer Park Drive house is set on 8 acres overlooking the same creek. Fridrich noted the home was commissioned by the founders of Ward Belmont College, now Belmont University, and was dubbed “Braeburn.”

In 2003, the home was extensively renovated in order to better welcome visiting dignitaries.

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Fridrich and Clark Realty and can be reached at richard@richardcourtney.com.

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