Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hope you're not afraid of snakes...

So, last Sunday I had gotten out the clearing saw, and was going to mow down some grasses/berry stalks in one of the garden areas.  I started the saw, left it to warm up, and turned around to move some sticks and branches off the area I was going to mow.  I almost stepped on a snake!  Now, I like snakes and don't want to hurt them.  It turned out to be a rubber boa.  I picked it up, intending to move it so I didn't smush or mow it, and almost stepped on another!  Weird.  I looked around for more, and found SEVEN of them in about a 10'x10' area.  Seven!  I think this is their breeding season, but it was still strange to see snakes out when it's so cold.

What a handful!



Rubber boas are native to the Western US.  Their skin does feel sort of rubbery.  It's looser than you find in most snakes, and their scales are quite small.  They have blunt tails that somewhat resemble a second head.  I'm pretty sure their primary food is rodents, though I've read that they will also eat reptile eggs and birds if they find them.  The theory is that their tails serve as a decoy "head" if they are attacked, and they use them to fend off the attacker (momma mouse perhaps).  I believe it, as most of the seven I picked up had pretty scarred tails.  Below is a tail shot of one of the larger boas.


They are very docile, and I've never had one even hiss at me.  They are supposed to get nearly 3' long, but all I've seen have been under 20" or so.  These guys were very cool.  After their photoshoot, I put them all back where I'd found them, and they slithered down rodent holes (or perhaps their own burrows) and were gone.  LJ has found a few over the last week, and I'm keeping an eye out for them so as to not smush any while I'm out working.  I found a garter snake too that day, but it wouldn't hold still for a picture.  :)

5 comments:

Paula said...

Wow is that a handful of snake!

I have a garter snake that lives in my yard and we startle each other every once in a while. I don't see him so much now that I have the bark down, but he used to be a real snake in the grass.

I think your rubber boas are pretty cool, and now if I see one I'll know what it is. I'm hoping the garter snake is still out there. It does seem weird that your snakes are out so early, but I heard a frog yesterday or the day before, so who knows? Maybe it's all attributable to global warming...

Rae said...

I'm pretty sure that late winter/early spring is when these boas breed, though I'd have to look it up to be certain. That's probably why they are out in such numbers. I'd never seen one in Oregon until last fall, on a different part of the property (nearly ran it over with the lawn mower). I found them occasionally in the mountains in CA. The cat I had at the time used to catch them and bring them in the house (along with scorpions). Seeing as he liked to leave that sort of gift by the bed, I was always careful to look before I got up. Lol. Remind me, next time I see you, to tell you about Churchee and the scorpion in the bathroom. That cat was crazy.

Robin said...

Okay so I am grossing out getting the willies just looking at that snake hand picture while my husband is going on about how awesome that picture is. :O

Rae said...

Lol, Robin. That's funny, because over the years I've found that guys are more likely to be freaked out by snakes than girls are. :)

This particular type of snake is really very cool. They're pretty slow moving, don't bite, and their scales are so small that their skin is almost squeaky. It's pretty neat.

kpannabecker said...

I've never heard of a rubber boa but they sure are pretty. That first picture sure is a handful of snake.

I agree, more men seem to be afraid of snakes than women. We have ringneck snakes that have babies every year in a cabin of ours. They don't bite either and don't get very big. We pick them up and put them outdoors but I know people who kill them. I don't get that at all.