Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Black Rat Snake on One of the Farms






Your hero with a Black Rat Snake -- Elaphe obsoleta. It was all I could do not to leap about and yell "What a little ripper," but I managed to contain myself.

This fellow was about five feet long; they get about eight feet according to the books, though seven feet is about the best I have seen. These fellows are constrictors and pretty arboreal, though this one was found in the long grass next to a stream.

As the name suggests, Black Rat Snakes eat rats, mice and chipmunks, as well as eggs and small birds. Black Rat Snakes, in turn, are eaten by Red Fox, Blue Herons and Raccoon (all three of which were encountered this day). Old rotten stumps are a good place to look for them from about the middle of April forward.

This fellow put out a rather noxious smell, as Rat Snakes will when they are handled, and I released it into the water of the creek, about four feet down from the vertical embankment upon which we were standing. Splash! All snakes are great swimmers, and this one was across the creek and into the thick weeds before Brick, the red fell terrier, could dive in after it.
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6 comments:

Kristine said...

Snakes are one of my phobias. I know most of them are perfectly harmless, but I don't like them and I never have.

dr. hypercube said...

Crikey! Nice one!

Never even occurred to me (living in the Great White North as I do), but do you need to worry about copperheads or rattlers (esp. w/ the relatively low body weight of the terriers)? If you've already posted on it, don't worry about replying - I'm going to search the blog as soon as I submit this...

dr. hypercube said...

As part of the copperhead search, I just re-read the Sailor and the black widow post (and then re-read your tribute to her because it just didn't seem right not to). These dogs do leave their marks on us...

gabboon said...

something to make Kristine shudder... I had a black rat snake as a pet when I was a kid. It was over five feet when I got it. I kept it in an old aquarium, but when it wanted out, it let itself out. Many cool mornings I found it under the covers with me. I must have smelled like an old log and was a nice warm thing to snuggle against. I eventually released it and I think it had grown at least a foot in the years I had it. She laid eggs not long after I caught her and I was inundated with rat snakes for a while. Sometimes I wonder if I restocked my neighborhood with them as they started turning up in good numbers beginning a few years later. I was an avid snake hunter from a very early age and we had never found rat snakes. She came from an orchard we visited many miles away from home.

Kristine said...

Yup, gabboon, that would pretty much do me in. If I ever woke up and found a snake snuggled up in bed with me, I'd scream so loud it would probably shatter glass.

Nancy said...

EEEEK!! Snakes!!!!! Just want to say I love your blog and the website. I wish I had known about hunting when my JRT was younger. I've got some good pics of her and my other terriers on my blog. Thank you for your dedication and devotion to the working terrier.