Monday, April 27, 2009

Say Hello to My Little Friend

It was a trifle disconcerting to notice something, shall we say, out of place in the potting shed yesterday morning:


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.


11 comments:

giggles said...

Cool!!!!!!

Don't let it see the kittehs!!!!

(Or vice versa...not sure which!)

Sluggo said...

Is it just the low angle of the light, or do you think the lumpy morphology of your specimen is due to repeated rodent repasts?

Wren said...

That's a simply gorgeous snake, Ned. I'm sure glad you're not one of those terrible people who scream and grab the nearest shovel, hatchet or shotgun and have at the poor creature. You give me hope, sir.

Will Divide said...

Gahaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Neddie said...

Don't let it see the kittehs!!!!I'm pretty sure the kittehs are safe from this particular menace. I sure wouldn't mind if it reduced the rabbit population a smidge.

I do worry about the dogs coming across a copperhead or timber rattler and not having the brains to stay away. They're getting elderly, and perhaps their natural exuberance is waning a bit. I can only hope.

Is it just the low angle of the light, or do you think the lumpy morphology of your specimen is due to repeated rodent repasts?

What I know about rat-snake morphology would fill your average subatomic particle with wisdom, but I rather doubt it. The photo does make for a fairly lumpy-looking serpent, but when I was close to it and touched it, it didn't feel lumpy. I blame the light.

I'm sure glad you're not one of those terrible people who scream and grab the nearest shovel, hatchet or shotgun and have at the poor creature.Well, thanks, Wren, but I think my pacifism stems from my ability to recognize a dangerous snake from a harmless one. If My Little Friend had been a copperhead or timber rattler, I'd have had a nearby wood-splitting maul down on its neck so fast, Wild Bill Hickock himself would admire my reflexes.

blue girl said...

Dear God in Heaven! I am traumatized by those photos! Especially that last one! To the point where I may never be able to stop using exclamation points ever again!

Does Wonder Woman know of the evil that lurks?

This is where I would go Full Tilt Republican and machine gun that slimy evil-doing creature!

Neddie said...

Does Wonder Woman know of the evil that lurks?I made my snaky discovery at about 8:00AM, while Wondie was delivering our daughter to school. When she arrived home, I excitedly pointed out Our New Friend to her, and she was delighted to see it.

This is a woman who picks up spiders even I won't have anything to do with, and deposits them gently outside with an admonition that it'll probably be much happier out there. Better food. You know.

She's utterly fearless.

Linkmeister said...

You know, in the yard I might not be traumatized by your buddy there, but in a drawer inside my own damned shed? Yikes. I might have levitated a few feet.

Will Divide said...

Touched it? TOUCHED it??!!!

See, this is why I live in the middle of a big city where you can depend on freezing six months a year. Rats are at least mammals.

Cleveland Bob said...

What a beautiful specimen! Nice work there, Marlin Perkins.

Deedledeedee said...

You are a brave man cause that is one big ass snake!