This morning, I walked out front of my house to find a medium-sized snake balled up on my driveway beneath my motorcycle. I spotted it from my porch so I didn't walk any closer. I believe it was a Texas rat snake.

I've seen a few snakes in my area but none really up close, so I watched it curiously for a few minutes. It seemed to be acting oddly - its head was tightly bent sideways at its "neck," and it was slowly coiling and writhing while opening and closing its mouth. It didn't seem very alert.

Then, a friendly neighborhood cat began batting at the snake's head, and while the snake was not acting aggressively, it did haphazardly snap back in self-defense a couple of times.

I (subjectively) assumed that the snake was injured or otherwise "done for," so I ended up moving it into the street with a long pole and crushing its head with a large rock. I had taken its lack of objection to agitation with the pole as another sign of distress.

I really don't like killing other creatures. In retrospect, maybe I could have handled the situation differently, maybe by capturing the snake and releasing it somewhere else. At the time, for whatever reason it seemed like it was suffering and I felt like I was doing it a favor, as well as potentially saving some local pets from injury.

Moral questions aside, does it sound like this snake was in fact behaving abnormally? Are the actions I described typical of a distressed snake (at least of this species), are there other plausible explanations, or is it unclear? I can elaborate if there are any specific questions.

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    $\begingroup$ You shouldn't have killed it. From my point of view, never kill a critter unless it is 100% obvious it is going to die. I killed a pigeon once after it crash-landed into our window. It was crippled and didn't move for a day. We had a cat too and I decided to kill it. In your case it wasn't obvious why the snake behaved the way it did and I would have let it live and relocate it. Others may disagree with me. I vote to close because it is opinion based and an ethical question. +1 because I admire your thoughtfulness. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Sep 30 '15 at 3:57
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @AliceD - I appreciate your point of view. I was hoping to frame the question in a more objective way, so maybe I should downplay the moral uncertainty and update it to something more answerable like "what kind of behavior was this snake exhibiting?" $\endgroup$
    – Bungle
    Sep 30 '15 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @AliceD - question updated. Yeah, I really feel bad about it now. It was a beautiful snake. That may be the only non-insect creature I've ever killed, at least intentionally. At least I know to stop and think harder about alternatives next time. $\endgroup$
    – Bungle
    Sep 30 '15 at 5:23
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    $\begingroup$ No worries, I slightly edited and formatted the question to make it more information dense. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Sep 30 '15 at 6:13
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    $\begingroup$ Not an answer because I can't be sure, but I've seen this behaviour in snakes that have taken a hit from a car etc. It usually means the backbone is injured/broken. I suspect you did the snake a favour. $\endgroup$ Sep 30 '15 at 11:15

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