Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Monday: 30 April 2012

Rat Snakes are Out  -  @ 06:25:02

Black rat snakes are our most commonly seen large snake, and always a pleasure to encounter. This one was patrolling the litter under the mayapples just above the creek:

And the first time I've seen one this year, on Saturday. This one has juvenile patterning, though at 3-4 feet long is pretty clearly mature. An explanation involving hybridization has been offered for this.

Rat snakes tend to freeze when they spot you, which makes them easy to observe if you're watching out. Touching them takes them out of the freeze, and they'll scoot away quickly if they have an out.

I also saw my second rat snake the same day, Saturday. A little smaller than above, it was still at least 3 feet long. I heard Gene giving his come hither call (I've found something interesting), and there was the snake, under the kitchen table with Gene sitting next to it. The snake was unharmed and completely docile - I was able to pick it up and release it into happier circumstances.

Then yesterday, Sunday, Glenn and I were sitting on the front deck, and around the corner came Gene carrying another 3-foot rat snake, apparently intending to deposit it under the kitchen table again. I extricated it, and again it was unharmed, apparently just bewildered to the point of docility. I released it near a brush pile and it scooted off. As Glenn said, "I saw it, but I don't believe it." A rather smallish cat carrying a fairly heavy 3-foot snake is an interesting sight.

Of course this presents a problem of concern. We do have two venomous species - copperheads and timber rattlesnakes. I've never seen a copperhead, and encountered timber rattlers only a few times. But neither is going to submit docilely to a cat, I'm afraid.

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