Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wild Neighbors

When we decided to live in a rural setting we knew that many other inhabitants were already here.  For the most part we enjoy an occasional glimpse of the wild life that calls this place home.  Plant loss is part of the equation and we accept that consequence.  A partial bucket of crushed oyster shell is stored under an inverted trash can.  Snakes were discovered between the two containers.  On this day I asked Becky if she wanted to try for snake photos.  Lifting the outer covering can revealed a mouse nest in the bucket.  One quick jump to the rim was followed by a drop to the ground.  The mouse ran over the snake and disappeared into the weeds.

That bulge in the center of the Eastern Garter snake's body may well be an earlier mouse meal.  Only one mouse was in the nest where there should have been two.  If the snake is digesting a mouse, that is fine with us.  We never molest a snake when we encounter one because we want them working on rodent control.

Clearly, there are two snakes in the picture and a shed skin.  The scale pattern on the shed skin matches the stripes on the garter snake.  Scales on the milk snake are more regular in shape.  A cloudy blue eye can be seen on the milk snake indicating that it is about to shed its skin.  We will look for this snake again soon.  The bright colors on new skin are worth seeing.

It would be less than honest to fail to mention our standard response when we happen across a snake. Becky always screams with a sharp volume only heard when a snake is unexpectedly underfoot.  I always leap into the air where I remain for a really long time.  My airborne gyrations defy the laws of physics while sending me away from the snake.  You would think we would get over it, but our response is still the same whenever the unexpected slither is underfoot.


DeVona said...

Enjoyable and informative post as always! I didn't realize that you can tell by looking at a snake's eyes whether it is about to shed ( I would probably never be that close in real life)!

Anonymous said...

Funny, just the other night someone was telling me about the blue eyes of a snake about to shed. It was the first I'd ever heard that, and here I am reading it again less than a week later!

I'm with you on the initial reaction to discovery of a snake almost underfoot! They're welcome to be in my garden, but I do not generally wish to see them!

That being said, about three weeks ago, while I was planting rows of green beans in one section of my vegetable garden, a snake was just lying in one corner of the garden, not more than 6 feet away from me. I was so proud that I didn't run screeching, but rather continued to plant the beans. I'm pretty sure it had just shed, because the colors were indeed bright. The light stripes down its back had a very pale aqua blue cast to them. I never ever thought I would find anything pretty about a snake! Earlier that morning, I had just found a snake skin in a place I knew there had not been one the day before.