The May sun is cooler than normal this year. I have been wondering if resident rat snake had made it through the winter. He lives in my sheds and we’ve learned to tolerate each other to a degree. Often I find him resting in some part of my lawn tractor and so that chore begins with a careful inspection of the moving parts to ensure that my natural pest control is safe from damage. If you missed last year’s post about rat snakes let me catch you up. The snake isn’t a pet. He’s a wild animal just like my songbirds and other wildlife on the property. However, He’s the only non-animal that regularly allows me to pick him up and so I gave him a name. I call him Decon because he deals with the mice. But he also disappears for long periods. We do also have a resident hawk and I’ve begun to wonder if Decon met his natural fate with the hawk. So when I saw the dark shape stretched out in driveway I thought that Decon had returned.
However, as I approach the snake it started to display it’s kicking posture. Something that Decon never did. It’s believed that this posture is an attempt to mimic a dead stick lying on the ground and thus is a form of camouflage. After all, a rat snake has only two defenses. Hide is one and stink is the other. It has absolutely no venom and it’s teeth are rather small and barb like. It still hadn’t dawned on me that this is not the same rat snake I’ve known over the past years. It wasn’t until I got closer and eye level with my lens that noticed the differences.
This snake has more white on it’s face and a beautiful brown undertone in it’s coloration. I could be wrong but I think it’s also younger than Decon. It seems to have freshly molted as well revealing patterns in it’s skin.
Some people think that these patterns are the result of cross breeding with pit vipers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rat Snakes lay eggs and pit vipers have live birth. I’m not sure but I also think that the chromosome count is wrong for cross breeding. Not to mention that rat snakes like king snakes will eat pit vipers. Which is another big reason why I allow rat snakes to have space in my sheds. The two species have been known to hole up together in winter but generally speaking pit vipers avoid areas with rat snakes. And since they have such a keen sense of smell they can tell where each other is living.
And so I step a little easier knowing that these non venomous and non-aggressive Rat snakes are patrolling my yard. However, this newcomer is a little too close to the door. In my sheds he’s fine but the house and walkways are out of bounds. He wins a free ride in a bucket to the forest edges where there’s plenty of hunting and some large exposed rocks to sun on. And judging from his reaction to meeting a real live human he’d prefer to return to the forest. And so he did.
For those who have been following me on Facebook and know of the struggle content providers have to get circulation from big tech I’ve been recommending for people to adopt MeWe as a social media platform. One of the problems I’ve run into on MeWe is that people don’t know how to navigate the platform. So to help with that I’ve created a permanent page on my website as a basic Basic Beginner’s Guide To MeWe I’ve tried to anticipate all basic questions there and You can bookmark the page to have as a reference and if you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me. I do still have a day job and I help admin several pages on both platforms so replies might be a little slow but I will answer you.
We also have the Lloyd’s Lens Photography Discussion Group on MeWe that is set up as a fully functional community. There you’ll not only be able to see and connect with me but you can also make your own posts and interact with each other.
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