Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Unconscious Squirrel

I came out the front door yesterday after lunch to find a snake on the sidewalk at the bottom of the steps. It was about two feet long. It is a common ribbonsnake, which can be found throughout Maryland. They are harmless, but can be hard to handle because they are a nervous breed.

Here, you can see the markings on the body. They have yellowish light bands down both sides and along the back.

One of a snake's defenses is simply not moving, a tact used by a lot of different animals. But it can begin to feel like watching paint dry, so I gave it a little encouragement to move. He moved into a little patch of Veronica Repens on the lawn. Remember I told you a few days ago my lawn was a mess? We had planted this little spring flower hoping it would propagate along the garden walk. Instead, patches of it pop up out on the lawn far from where it was found originally. In fact, there is none where it was originally planted. Anyway, the snake sought shelter in the patch of Veronica because the grass was a little longer there from  mowing around it until after it finishes blooming.

While I was waiting and watching it, lo and behold, a squirrel comes out of the woods and starts hopping around on the lawn looking for the perfect place to dig a hole and hide some bit of food for a rainy day. As I was watching it, I was thinking, You don't suppose he could wander over this way and see the snake. From where I was standing, the pickets on the porch rails were between me and the squirrel. If I had tried to move, it would have spooked and run off, so I shot through the pickets instead.

Sure enough, the squirrel hopped over and dug a hole right near the tail of the snake. The snake was looking at him as though it was astonished by it's unconsciousness. Even though the squirrel had to be almost touching the snake, it never saw it and hopped off after burying it's food. The snake made no attempt to alert the squirrel to it's presence. That is two days in a row a little comedy of nature had me laughing.

Here are three other views I took before it slithered off into the woods.

The coloring in the first two pictures is off a little bit. The coloring in the picture just above is closer to the yellowish color of the lighter areas on the ribbonsnake.

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