Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The TAIL of a Snake in the grass

Sunday I was walking the puppies, one at a time of course, when I spied this particular snake.

First I KNEW what kind it was and second I knew the puppies had never seen one, sooooooooooooooooooooooo we finished our walk in another area of the 100 acre wood.
[The Hundred Acre Wood (also spelled as 100 Ackere Wood, Hundred-Acre Wood, and 100 Acre Wood; also known as simply "The Wood") is the fictional land inhabited by Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Winnie-the-Pooh series of children's stories by author A.A. Milne. The wood is visited regularly by the young boy Christopher Robin, who accompanies (or imagines through make-believe) Pooh and company on their many adventures. (One hundred acres is 0.4 square kilometres or 0.15625 square miles.)]
After all the dogs had been ‘walked’ I settled down in my Nook and then I saw Fred or maybe it was Fredericka. Some name I have always called black snakes…Not that the names are bad, just a good solid name.

So on with the story
After taking pictures of the yardstick, I feel sure most of you will agree Fred/Fredericka was at least 5 feet long. I could have picked her/him up to be sure but WHY? It was rather apparent she/he was merely moving through the ‘Wood’.

Identification and Natural History
Due to people's lack of knowledge and fear of snakes, rat snakes continue to be the victim of human persecution.
The southeastern United States is home to a great diversity of snakes. There are about 45 species of snakes (only 6 of which are venomous) that may be found along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal states from Louisiana to North Carolina. These snakes live in a variety of upland and wetland habitats and play important roles in the region's ecology. They are both predators and prey, and thus form important links in natural food webs. Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta) The Black Rat Snake is one of several subspecies of Rat Snakes (Yellow and Gray Rat Snakes are others). Rat Snakes are common throughout the eastern U.S., although the black subspecies of rat snake does not occur in Florida ( Fig. 3 ). This snake can be quite large (it may exceed six feet in length) and has slightly keeled scales (raised ridge along the middle of each scale) that make it appear somewhat rough. Its back is almost entirely black (small flecks of whitish color may show through the black), whereas its chin and belly have a lot of white markings ( Fig. 4 ). Black Rat Snakes are excellent climbers and are found in a great variety of habitats, ranging from pine forests to agricultural fields. They feed primarily on rodents, birds and birds' eggs.

Fun Facts

Rat snakes are very useful around barns and in farming communities because they help control pest populations. Their habitat is slowly being reduced due to land development and the cutting of trees. However, they continue to maintain a healthy population.

Black snake, name for several snakes, not all closely related, that are black in color. In the United States the name is applied chiefly to the black racer and to the black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta), both partly arboreal in their habits. The black rat snake, also called pilot black snake and mountain black snake, is found in the NE United States. Like other rat snakes (Elaphe species), it is a constrictor and a valuable destroyer of rats and mice. It has shiny, slightly keeled scales and reaches a length of 8 ft (2.4 m). The poisonous Australian black snake belongs to the cobra family and has a hood. The North American black snakes are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Colubridae.
Snakes shed their skin in order to grow and this is done several times a year in adults and more often in younger snakes. During the preshed the snake may be more aggressive than usual since the eye caps make it hard to see and they may strike out to protect them selves.

This is called the blue stage when the skin actually looks a very pale blue covering the snake. Once this stage has past the skin becomes clear and snake is now ready to shed the old skin that is very tight. The skin will be shed head first and usually in one piece you will see all the scales and the eye caps to the tip of the tail. The skin will also hold the pattern of the snake and will make identification of snakes around your home much easier. Due to the stretching of the skin during shedding it will be a bit longer than the snake really is.

1. ARE SNAKES SLIMY? No, some snakes have smooth, shinny scales that make them look slimy. If you touch a snake is feels soft and smooth.

2. HOW DO SNAKES HELP US? Without snakes around the rat and mouse population would explode out of control. One adult snake can eat a mouse or rat just about every other day. Snakes are our 100% natural pest control system.

So how do you MEASURE up on your knowledge about snakes?


dot said...

Snakes are just something I DO NOT like but I did enjoy your post, especially the name of it. lol

Neva said...

I am from West Virginia and the only thing I can tell you about snakes is....I avoid them and have been fortunate enough to either NOT see them or they have avoided me. When I was young, my great grandmother had an outhouse(in in Upsher County.....Tallmansville) and in the fall, she would always warn my sisters and I that the outhouse was a great place for copperheads to warm up after a cool evening....even I knew then a copperhead was not something I needed to say hi to, so when I had to go to the knew I was damn desperate.....
Great post and I am glad you aren't afraid to take pictures of snakes!

Jenny said...

I'm no fan of snakes either. I'm with St. Patrick on this one. But, I did have an encounter with a rat snake. Several years ago my nephew was visiting from Ohio. He was a real jokester(sp?), known for putting plastic spiders on my dinner plate, plastic bugs under the sheets, etc. One day he left a pencil sized snake by the front door. I bent down to pick it up, and it moved! (This is why you put your contacts in as soon as you wake up.) I called my dad who lived five minutes away to come get the thing. I was not a cool, calm collected woman, and Dad even had the nerve to swat me with the broom so I would stop. So, snake was swept outside, Samantha and Josh put in Dad's truck to go with him, and I was off to a hot, relaxing shower.

I don't know why, but I took the phone in the bathroom with in which ended up saving my life. All the tension of the morning was swept down the drain. I was back to myself - until I opened the door. The snake had not only found its way back in the house but had climbed up the stairs. He was waiting for me. Was he curled up, waiting patiently? Oh no, he was sitting up pretty as you please, hissing at me. I screamed, closed the door and called my dad again. This time the demon went in a container. Dad called a friend who taught vo ag at a local university who identified it as a rat snake. He wondered why I was so fussy about it. He took the thing home with him in his pocket to release it into the wilds.

Haven't been bothered by snakes since until last week when our dog Snickers rolled around in the dead carcass of one!

Yeah, I just love snakes.