Warning--snake post and picture to follow.
I was out wandering our property a few days ago. I having one last walk before we had our pastures cut and brush cleaned up. I was also having a boo-hoo moment. I really didn't want to have the work done, but it was becoming a clear fire hazard. That's tomorrow's story though.
As I walk, I always keep my ears open as well as my eyes. I heard the agitated twitter of a pair of wrens. I thought I must be near a tree they have a nest in. I moved away in hopes of quieting their fear. The twittering continued. I searched the trees for any sight of them and saw a bit of branch fall to the ground. A light went on in my head, they see a snake! It didn't take long to spot the snake in the tree. Movement nearby also caught my eye. Another snake! No way! I ran all the way to the house for my husband's camera (telephoto lens), as they were about 15' up in the tree. By the time I returned it was clear that I was interrupting an intimate moment. Like any good papparazzi, I started snapping photos.
I know, most folks think I'm out of my gourd. I just find them fascinating and beautiful. A few facts to keep you in the know---just in case it comes up in a game of Trivial Pursuit.
*Rat snakes are not venomous.
*Rat snakes are often called Chicken snakes because they are sometimes found near chicken coops. They are usually there because of a rodent problem, but soon discover the eggs.(Been there, done that!)
*Rat snakes can 'rattle' their tail which is to scare away predators. This is often their undoing when they encounter humans. A rattling tail equals a Rattle snake for most humans.
*Rat snakes come out of hibernation late March--early April.
*The male seeks out the female for mating.
*Five weeks later she will lay 12-20 eggs in a hidden area, under logs or leaves or in abandoned animal burrows.
*The hatchlings will appear in 65-70 days later, and are on their own from the beginning.
*If weather conditions are good, the female may produce two clutches of eggs a year.
Ready? Here's the pic. Not scary at all. If you made it this far, then I'm proud of you. If you're feeling particularly brave, click on the picture to make it larger.