Ramble On

Monday, October 20, 2014

Battle of the Species: More Snakes at Work

Back in 2009 or so, I was sampling one of neighbor Dan's harvest brews in October, and I remarked that it seemed like it had been a while since I had seen a snake around Hawksbill Cabin.  Dan said that if it was going to happen that year, it would be right around this time, because, "...the snakes are on the move."

Last Friday I wrote about the little brown snake that we'd seen moving along the sidewalk out front of the office.  That little critter, at no more than five inches long, was barely noticeable - he was even smaller than the ring neck snakes I've seen sometimes at the cabin (that link will take you to a post about them, with a couple of photos)...however, he was the precursor to the monster we found laying across the threshold to our building on Friday - a four-foot black rat snake.

This encounter was typical of my experience with black rat snakes, which are nonvenomous and very common.  The colleague who discovered it didn't even notice the snake as he stepped into the building - he only noticed after he had opened the sliding glass door and it closed behind him, which put the snake on alert.  The raised head and kinked body position seen in the photo above are part of the snake's defensive posture - they won't generally bite, but they will fight by striking and biting if cornered, and that is the next step after the pose seen here.

Since I have a well-earned reputation for chronicling encounters with snakes, my friend came in to tell me about the snake.  We went back out to have a closer look, which resulted in the photo above (readers should understand the photo was taken from at least six feet away and has been enhanced with an iPhone app, lol).

It wasn't long afterwards that the snake figured it had gotten enough attention, and it slithered away.  Eventually it climbed the brick wall near the door, over behind a downspout - headed for some of the vents up there or perhaps to the roof.

Our building is close to the property boundary and some of the adjoining land is owned by the National Park Service - so nature can go pretty wild back there.  That's what I attribute our reptilian population to, anyhow.  This is the fourth time I've seen a snake somewhere in the building, between the brown snake, this black rat snake, and garter snakes on two separate occasions a few years back.

If any of my coworkers are reading this, I'd like to reassure them that all four of the snakes I have seen around were nonvenomous, so really there isn't much to fear, and that is a good explanation for why we don't have rats or mice.  A second important thing to think about is this:  I've seen four snakes...just imagine how many of them we haven't seen and don't know about that are crawling around the place.

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