Monday, June 15, 2009

Black Rat Snake

Who couldn’t love a face like this? This is the front end of a Black Rat Snake.

When someone finds a snake blocking their approach to the front door, their typical reaction is not one of concern about the snake’s health. This snake was all kinked up like one of those old arthritic snakes in the Far Side cartoons. I was afraid someone had come up to the house, found the snake, River Danced up and down its spine, then run away.

Of course, the snake was fine. I’ve seen many snakes assume this position when crossing smooth areas such as the bricked approach to our porch. They usually look a bit awkward when the only place they have to push against is beneath their belly scales. My water garden begins about 2 feet beyond the snake’s tail. Since the snake had water droplets on its back and the vegetation was completely dry, I assumed the snake had just come from a swim. I found it as it was making its way toward the garage from which it has easy access to the attic and mice.

People wonder why I work so hard to keep the snakes out of the bird houses, but let them come right in to mine. Of course, the snakes are not actually in the part we live in, just the garage and attic space. Sometimes guests are startled by an occasional shed skin hanging from the rafters, but the snakes do keep the mouse population somewhat in check and they do no damage. I shouldn’t have to tell you that it is poor bird box etiquette to entice birds to a nesting site that will only end with the demise of their young, so I won’t. Sorry, I guess I just did.

This snake was obviously not shaken by a paparazzi encounter. He spent a lot of time with my camera lens in his face before deciding I was even worth investigating. It took me so long to get a picture of its tongue that I’m sure it had time to learn everything there was to learn about me. Basically, I was too large to swallow and didn’t pose a threat.

This was definitely a day for Black Rat Snakes at Blue Jay Barrens. Ten minutes after my front door snake encounter, I went out to the barn and met this snake a few feet from sliding under the barn door. I’ve watched snakes travel back and forth from the barn to the house. I guess when it becomes hard to find mice in one place, they travel to the other.

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