Tuesday, May 08, 2007

An unexpected visitor....

On May 1st I was outside myself late in the afternoon at the farm. I was driving the tractor in front of the barn and I saw something move in the grass. I quickly realized it was a snake. Not a big snake, maybe only 18 inches long and little bigger then a pencil around. I stopped the tractor and ran inside to get my camera... hoping that the snake would stay put until I get back.

Well, he did and I got a few good shots before it began to move along. I moved over to the big tree between the kid's playground and the woods. I was a little surprised to see him go right up the tree. I snapped a few more photos and then left him alone and went back to work.

Meanwhile, we have been so busy that I had forgotten about the little snake until today when Neil called out to me when I was in the barn. He and Evan were watching a snake in the same place I saw one last week. It looked just the same but this one was only about 12 inches long. Evan and I watched it move along toward the chicken coop end of the barn.

Here is one of the photos from last week...

I figured I should find out what kind of snake it was for sure... even though I thought I knew what it was. So, I went to the "Snakes of North Carolina" web site. I was glad to discover it was what I thought it was: a juvenile Black Rat Snake. Here is a photo from the web site and the description:

Description: Black Rat Snakes (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta) range between 3.3 ft. and 6.6 ft. (1.02-2.03 m) in length. As the common name infers, the dorsal coloration of the Black Rat snake is black. Some specimens are solid black, some have faint blotches on the their dorsum, and others' dorsums are patterned with light fleckingbetween the scales. Juveniles have dark dorsal patterns on light gray backgrounds. The ventralside of these snakes is white or gray and frequently it is mottled with gray.

Range/Habitat: Black Rat Snakes are common in the mountains and Piedmont. They interbreed with Yellow Rat Snakes in the northeastern Coastal Plain. Yellow Rat snakes are common throughout the eastern Coastal Plain. Both subspecies inhabit wooded areas and nearby habitat.

Reproduction: Rat Snakes in the Carolinas breed from April to June and during the fall. The female lays between 5 and 40 elongated eggs between June and August.

Prey: Rat snakes are excellent climbers and they are frequently found in trees. Their arboreal nature enables them to feed on birds and their eggs. They also eat small mammals and lizards.

Behavior: Rat Snakes may crawl away when they are confronted but often they remain motionless and sometimes kink their body. If escape is not possible they may vibrate their tails and strike.

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