A few of my friends (Carmen and Gina, in particular) are so afraid of snakes that I can’t even say the word in front of them. I have been instructed to refer to them as “s’s.” I, on the other hand, have no fear of them—unless, of course, it’s a snake that is: a) bigger than me, b) coming at me, or c) rattling at me.
So Carmen and Gina—Avert your eyes! Avert your eyes! (I suppose I really shouldn’t tell them that a female Black Rat Snake lays about 12-20 eggs in early summer!)
I was walking down a trail near the visitor’s center at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens this afternoon and glanced over at a bank of shrubs and immediately saw this little critter—a Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta). I’ve seen plenty of snakes in my lifetime, but I’ve never seen one sunning itself on a shrub, so I thought at first it was a rubber snake some kid left there. Nope—he was the real deal, and he didn’t seem to mind being my subject for several frames. He was no bigger than one inch around, but can grow up to eight feet long—making it the largest snake in Virginia. In my research, I learned that they are excellent climbers and competent swimmers. I already knew that they were non-venomous.
And regarding snakes—I have a huge pet peeve when people automatically want to kill any snake, regardless of how tiny it is or what type it is. If it’s not attacking you or the family pet—why kill it? If I found one in my home, I would capture it (taking extra care if I couldn’t identify it and didn’t know if it was venomous or not) and release it into the wild. If I couldn’t capture it myself or it was a venomous or particularly aggressive species, I would get outside help—but not from someone who would exterminate it. What can I say? I’m a self-appointed steward to all animals!
© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.