For the last couple of years, I noticed mouse-droppings in among the grass-seed I had stored out there. Now? Not so much.
A black rat-snake has taken up residence in a seldom-used drawer. For the last few summers, I found shed skins out there, and assumed their erstwhile owners had moved on. Now I realize the mouse population was so plentiful that My Little Friend decided to take up permanent residence.
According to the Audubon Society's Field Guide to Reptiles,
Rat snakes are large, powerful constrictors and excellent climbers. They are often found in barns and falling-down old buildings, [Hey! That shed's in great shape!] where their shed skins may be found in the rafters. As the name suggests, rat snakes eat rodents, as well as rabbits, birds, and eggs. Out and about during the day in spring and fall, they often don't move until just after sunset in summer. They sometimes hole up for the winter with Copperheads or Timber Rattlesnakes.Well, there's no accounting for taste in the company one keeps, I suppose. But Mr. or Ms. Rat Snake (mighty hard to sex these things), far from being a nasty viper with a deadly bite, is about as benign a critter as there is in the herpetological world, and is more than welcome to share my shed and eat my mice -- as long as he or she doesn't invite in her winter pals.
I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Jingo!
As the warm spring sunshine streams in the window, My Little Friend wraps herself in switchbacks, to warm every inch of her six-foot-long body. And why not, eh? It's been a long, cold, lonely winter for everybody.