No Badgers, Snake!


Kestrel spotted this beautiful gopher snake (Pituophis melanoleucus), back end first… Click for full size!

© Kestrel, all rights reserved.

Comments

  1. says

    Beatiful animal! I was always very fond of snakes and I like them, but where I live are only two species and they are rather difficult to spot.

  2. kestrel says

    This snake was *so* gentle and patient. I wanted him to move out into the sunlight, so I touched his tail, and he immediately started to vibrate it (they do this because if the tail happens to be in dry leaves or something, it sounds like a rattlesnake, and will hopefully discourage whatever is bothering them) and then looked back at me with that pained expression on his face. :-D So I went around to the front, and just got his portrait in the shadow. He looked at me for quite a long time before quietly moving off.

  3. Kengi says

    My initial reaction to snakes is always “Aww, aren’t they cute,” but then some part of my brain kicks in, raises the hairs on the back of my neck and says “Stay away!” Kind of like a cute little kid wearing a MAGA hat.

    I’ve only seen harmless garter snakes and water snakes around here. By the time I get the camera out, they have usually gone back into cover since they seem to have the same attitude toward me.

  4. says

    Kengi@#7:
    Yeah, I’m with you. I’ve reached out to pick up black rat snakes and had them coil and pretend like they are about to rattlesnake-strike me, and I still jump about 5 feet in the air. The first time.

  5. says

    I think it’s the amazing transition between “snake, not moving” and “snake, making threat display” -- which is incredibly fast -- I just never anticipate it.

  6. says

    Most people don’t anticipate strikes, which is why they get bitten. That, and being stupid. Just remember, the snake has more right to try and be scary, because look at the size difference -- if I was looking at someone that many sizes bigger than me, I’d try to look lethal, too! :D

  7. voyager says

    Shiver. I’m sure most snakes are perfectly nice, but they all scare me. Panic-freeze kinda scare me. I know it’s ridiculous. Thankfully, my dog scares them all away before I get to see them.

  8. Ice Swimmer says

    Have concur with rq and Caine about the facial expression.

    charly @ 3

    Grass snake (Natrix natrix, a cousin of this) and viper (Vipera berus, poisonous, with the sawtooth pattern on the back), right?

    I think I’ve seen a viper once in the wild here, but never a grass snake. Or a smooth snake (Coronella austriaca, which is related to grass snakes and gopher snakes, but a constrictor) while visiting Åland.

    Northern Europe doesn’t exactly have a diverse snake fauna, and from your statement neither does Central Europe…

  9. kestrel says

    Wow, Ice Swimmer, that viper you mention has really beautiful markings! It must be amazing to see one of those guys in the wild.

    I think at least some people are scared of snakes because their parents teach them to be scared when they are children. I’ve seen parents wiggle something snake-like at a very young child while making an “oogie boogie!” type noise to scare the child. That, and a lack of understanding, make it not surprising so many people are scared of snakes. My parents taught me from a very young age that snakes are really interesting animals, and as a result I have always felt that way about them. Where most people will kill a snake if they see it, I will catch them and take them home to live at my farm, or help them across the road so they don’t get run over, or catch them and move them to a safe location so they don’t get into trouble with humans. And yes, even poisonous ones. :-) They are all an important part of the ecosystem.

    As far as speed? Yeah, normally these guys are pretty fast, but it’s still quite cold here so this guy was very calm and slow. However… as a matter of fact, I have captured and handled many gopher snakes, and they all have a very sweet and calm temperament. That, and the fact that they also eat mice and prairie dogs, makes them a favorite snake for me. They are an effective way to battle Hanta virus here.

  10. Ice Swimmer says

    kestrel @ 14

    Yes, vipers are beautiful, though I must admit that I’ve seldom thought of them aesthetically before.

    And yes, venomous is the word I should have used (viper meat is edible though getting​ your stomach full from it is nigh on impossible). In Finnish the word myrkyllinen means both venomous and poisonous.

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