Random Thought of the Day 20MAY2011: Snake? Sna-a-a-a-a-ake!!

So, I had a visitor of the slithery-kind show up about a week back or so in my back yard.  At first I thought, hey, it’ll be alright.  It’s just passing through.  We’ve never seen snakes in our back yard before, and this one just seemed to have been startled by my mowing the lawn.  I scared it into the crevice beneath the shed and didn’t see it again, so I didn’t think anything of it.  I thought it was cool, posted a little status-thing on FB, and called it a night.

The Eastern Ribbon Snake

Looking for a way out.

A few days pass and nothing.

Yesterday, I got to see Mr. Snake again.  It was more or less resting under one of our gates.  I tried to catch it because I don’t want to see the little guy hurt, but it shot into the tall grass that I was trying to mow.  I argued with the grass for about ten minutes before I said “Screw it, it’s not in there,” and proceeded to cut that grass anyway, hoping for the best.  I wound up not finishing the lawn because of a mild scratch to my son’s face.  Yeah, that’s a whole other story…

Anyway…  Today, I go out to finish mowing the lawn and guess who I find?  Mr. Snake, sitting in the exact same spot!  I was prepared this time, though, since it really no longer had the tall grass to hide in, and I had an old cat litter bucket close by.  After a few moments of coaxing, I managed to get it to slide into the bucket, then transferred it to a taller bucket.  Surprise, surprise, it practically JUMPED out of the bucket!  Like, seriously!  It worked its way up the side of the bucket, then Super-Mario jumped out of the bucket!  A few interesting minutes later and I caught the thing again, this time carefully placing it in my metal-mesh fire pit for a photo op!  I wanted to identify the new resident, mostly to see if it was dangerous and needed to be removed.  Last thing I need is a poisonous snake where my son plays.  I showed my little guy the snake, let him watch the thing coil up and look around for an easy escape, but eventually it just settled for poking around the metal square, breathing hard from its exhaustion.

The Eastern Ribbon Snake

Sniffing for safety

After the photographs were taken, I carefully carried the pit, with the snake in it, to the shed and set the little guy free.  So, what does it do?  Takes off back towards the tall grass I’m trying to mow!  No, little snake, I don’t want you to get chopped up!  We had a discussion, mostly me making tremors on the concrete and chasing it the other direction, until it hid in a pile of stone pavers.  At least it’s safe.

Apparently, so is my son!  The snake I found, as seen in the image, is apparently an Eastern Ribbon Snake, or Thamnophis sauritus for you scientificky-types.  The snake can grow to a maximum of three feet long and feeds on amphibians, insects, and fish, meaning it’s here because of the retaining pond just behind my property.  We’ve got lots of frogs living in our development, something that becomes clear when it starts raining hard and everything is wet, meaning ample food for the guy.  Amazingly, it would have been safe to handle, although somewhat difficult with how quick it is, because they tend to not bite, even when being held.  Should it happen to bite, though, you’ll still be safe because the thing has no teeth, or at least not teeth that can hurt you.  This particular example, if you look, has hazy, milky eyes because it’s about to shed it’s skin!  If it weren’t for my misses, I’d have found a way to safely keep it to watch that.

Eastern Ribbon Snake Lifting Up

At one point, the little guy actually lifted himself high enough to find the exhaust vent

So, I’m sure I’ll get the question, “But Wulf, why didn’t you just get rid of it?  Have it destroyed?”  Well, my answer to that is simple: I don’t condone the killing of any creature that’s not in either defense or for food or, in rare cases, because the creature can’t be saved using conventional means and is suffering.  This snake is no exception.  It was merely living its life and happened to be in a bad place at the wrong time.  I know my Kikat will probably disagree with me, and I respect that.  That said, I don’t like the idea of killing things that are beneficial to the ecosystem.  While it seems counter-intuitive that eating things like frogs would be benefiting the ecosystem, if we had too many frogs, then there wouldn’t be enough bugs to pollinate the flowers that become our food.  Everything is inter-connected in one way or another.

So, to close out, I want to say, Have a great weekend, everyone!  Don’t be afraid of snakes: They’re more scared of you.  And, lastly, remember that experiences like this can be once-in-a-lifetime things, so share them with your kids whenever you can!

Good-Bye for now, Eastern Ribbon Snake

After our discussion about not going into the tall grass, this is the snake on my concrete ramp for my shed.

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