Monday, April 30, 2007

Ode to you dear snake

Last night my husband became a hero to our neighbor. Unbeknownst to Nathan, in his pursuit of pulling the car into the garage, he drove over a snake that our neighbor was trying to save the neighborhood from. Our neighbor was so relieved that when Nathan stepped out of the car he began to energetically tell Nathan all about his adventurous snake hunt. He swore up and down that this was a highly poisoness snake and that Nathan had saved us all from the doom of such a dangerous creature in our midst.

While they were chatting I snagged a broom and used the handle to pick up the limp snake, out of the road, and toss it into the bushes across the street. It landed on a cable box. I thought it was so funny that I just left it there, knowing it would freak out a few people passing by. This morning it was still there- guess it really is dead. So I went over to take a picture of our little home-wrecker. Then I decided to find out what kind of snake it was, so I did some research. Here is what I found:

Scientific name: Elaphe guttata guttata
Commonly called:
Corn snake
Average adult size is 18-44 inches, record is 72 inches. Adults are orangish-brown with black bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches. The belly usually is a black and white checkerboard pattern, though orange may also be present. There is a spear-shaped pattern on the head and neck. The pupil is round. Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults, but may be more brownish in coloration.
It is found throughout peninsular Florida. The species ranges west to Louisiana to north to southern New Jersey.
Commonly found near pinelands, hardwood hammocks, swamps, agricultural fields, and residential areas.
'HARMLESS (non-venomous)' in this guide is used to describe snakes that either do not produce venom (they are not poisonous) or that produce a venom so weak that it is no threat to humans. 'Harmless' does not mean the snake will not bite. Snakes do not have feet with claws that they can scratch you with, but they do have needle-sharp teeth and, if threatened, most will readily bite.

The saliva of some snakes slows coagulation so lacerations from their teeth may weep more blood than you might expect. If you are bitten by a harmless snake, you may wish to wash the saliva off and treat the wound with a antiseptic or antibiotic just the way you would the bite of any other animal.

The corn snake is primarily active at night. It is both a terrestrial borrower and extremely good climber. It is found under rocks and logs, and in trees under bark and within palm fronds. It feeds on lizards, frogs, rodents, and birds and their eggs. It lays eggs. Breeding occurs from April-June, 3-40 eggs are laid during the summer, and newborns hatch from July-September. It can live up to 22 years in captivity. The name, 'Corn Snake', is a holdover from the days when southern farmers stored harvested ears of corn in a wood frame or log building called a crib. Rats and mice came to the corncrib to feed on the corn, and corn snakes came to feed on the rodents. It is hard to imagine a better man-made habitat, with rafters and logs on which the snakes could climb and hide, and they paid for using it by eating the pesky rodents.

So basically we ran over a perfectly good snake that had probably just laid some eggs in a hidden spot somewhere. He/She could have protected our neighborhood from pesky rodents. Instead, we ran over him. Sad.

So this post is for you, poor little corn snake. You shall live on fiercely in the dangerous tales told about you by our neighbor.

1 comment:

Dawn Marie said...

No snake is a good snake. Just my thoughts.
Happy Birthday, little one.

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