Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rearing Racer

Spring is almost here, and with three dogs to walk now (Mom brought her darling pooch Abby) I'm spending a bit more time in the yard. Yesterday afternoon I went out with Skye and Cole to take a little stroll, and happened to notice on my way back to the porch how many leaves the old oak tree has been shedding:



Luckily I decided to examine the leaves at the moment, or I would have stepped on someone's head:



I'm not afraid of snakes, but I do like some warning before I meet one. Mr. Black Racer here played dead so well the dogs didn't even notice him when I hurried them inside. I was almost afraid he was deceased, but as soon as I came out with the camera he rattled his tail in the leaves and put on his tough guy act by rearing up:



I found out later via Internet research that this is classic behavior for a black racer when they're startled or feeling threatened.



Snakes are pretty amazing critters, and I love to photograph them. This species is non-venomous but I've read that they will bite if they feel cornered or threatened, so I kept a safe distance and took all the pics by zoom.



He stayed upright in full rearing rage and gave me the stink eye until I retreated, and only then did he slither away. I've never seen a snake do that so I'm delighted I got the pics.

Anything interesting showing up in your yard or garden yet? Let us know in comments.

25 comments:

  1. Ren Benton7:16 AM

    A racer likes to swim in the azaleas outside the front window and pokes his head up like the Loch Ness monster, so when I catch him sunbathing on the porch, I shoo him away with a Scottish accent. We're buddies as long as he stays outside.

    I wasn't quite so cool the time a corn snake got in the house, and I am endlessly grateful there is no video of me capably managing the situation with a dustpan and cardboard box while screaming my head off for the five minutes that took and for about three hours after.

    Dude, you have THE WHOLE OUTSIDE. Let me have my tiny little critter-free sanctuary, please.

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    1. Yikes! You get extra points for evicting the slithery one. We've been lucky so far; the racers will sometimes sneak onto our porch or in the garage but they've yet to get in the house. I don't think they'd last too long with two dogs and a cat patrolling the premises.

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  2. I've always loved snakes. One of my favorite memories was me sneaking snakes to school and letting them loose in the boys bathroom. Of course I was the ONLY person who was willing to go in and "rescue" the boys from the big bad gopher snake. In retrospect I feel sorry for the snake. ~grins~

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    1. My third grade teachers had a pet king snake and brought it in to show the class; she told us how valuable snakes were to the ecology of the Everglades. Then she let us each gently touch the snake's hide. I've been in love ever since. :)

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  3. My garden, thus far, only has crocuses (croci?) poking up and starting to bloom. For Valentine's Day. In Indiana. The rest of the common urban wildlife (squirrels, rabbits and the occasional possum) still seem to be hibernating for the most part.

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    1. I think a couple of your squirrels are vacationing here, Bethany, and they're cleaning out my bird feeders.

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  4. Last fall, we had some garters living under my newly planted rosebushes (they liked to slink under the mulch and paper), but I haven't seen them yet.

    I'm a little worried about the tomato vine bunny--it made a nest down there, so I left all the vines in place (yes, I am a softie). I saw her as recently as a month ago, but now she's not there. I hope the local hawks didn't get her!

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    1. Aw, you are a softie, Vom. We have a fox den at the edge of our property; they usually have their little ones in early spring. The farmers like to shoot them (and I imagine if I had chickens I wouldn't love them so much) but it's so neat to see the pups cavorting about the fence at dusk.

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  5. He's beautiful. The only thing in my yard at the moment is snow, although a massive tarp did blow in with the blizzard over the weekend.

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    1. Wild tarp is endandered, you know. :)

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    2. Endangered, I mean. Ha.

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  6. Our racers have a white stripe down their sides. I had one that would pace the lawn tractor in part of our meadow. That's why they are called racers.

    I was walking up the steps from our basement in the fall and glanced down. An almost six-foot black snake was right beside me, looking at me. I kept moving, got some heavy garden gloves and a two-foot tong I use for grilling, then returned to the basement past the snake to unlock the outside door and shove it open. I picked up the snake near the neck with the tongs and gently tossed it outside, then slammed the door shut. After that, I freaked out. Even though the snake was harmless, I don't like them in my space.

    I have also had a poisonous copperhead in my bedroom and a huge bull snake in the greenhouse. Bull snakes are the actors of the snake world. When you bother them, they will lift and flair their head like a cobra, then coil and rattle their tail like a rattler, then do an impression of a copperhead striking. If none of that works, they play dead since they aren't poisonous. If they weren't so big, they'd be funny.

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    1. I'm imagining how loudly I'd scream if I found a copperhead in my bedroom. Windows would definitely shatter. You are brave, lady.

      We have one dark snake we've spotted from a distance a few times that is at least six feet long; I found part of his molted skin caught on our fence and it was four inches longer than me (I'm 5'3"). He stays away from the house and people so he might be a racer.

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  7. Anne V.11:22 AM

    I'm paranoid about snakes out here in TX. We live in rocky desert that is the perfect hiding place for venomous critters. We have a lot of rattlers, scorpions, and the occasional tarantula.

    My husband has given me white hairs describing his meetings with these guys while he's out in the field working. He's nearly stepped on rattlers while hiking and he poked at one who was trying to hibernate in an abandoned house last winter.

    You got some great shots of this guy though!

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    1. I used to be phobic about spiders until I educated myself on them. Now I'm just mildly apprehensive (we've been infested with black widows a couple times now so I think I have some cause.)

      Your husband must be fearless. Mine is too; he even handles evicting coral snakes from our garden without a qualm. Me, I need a Hazmat suit.

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  8. Okay, I'm sorry, but that cobra pose just totally creeps me out. I don't really mind snakes as long as I either have a heads up they're in my space, or a head start if they're coming at me.

    I can't wait for the Turkey Vultures to come gliding back to the area after their winter vacation down south. It means spring when they suddenly appear, drifting in lazy circles over the valley.

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    1. It was a bit startling to see him rear up so high -- and even more so to see him hold himself in the air like that for a good five minutes. Snakes must have awesome muscles. ;)

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  9. Cool! Our hummingbirds have been hanging around, waiting for me to repair their feeder and figure out how to re-hang it now that there is no longer a deck under it to help me reach. The deer have been around, but I haven't caught them in the yard since before Christmas - they don't seem to like going out in the rain. And the rest of the birds are everywhere, as usual.

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    1. Hummingbirds are gorgeous. I saw one silvery-blue fellow the first summer we were at this house (my first sighting ever, too) but I think my cats scared them off after that. I remember thinking Wow the dragonflies around here are enormous before I realized it was actually a bird.

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  10. Yikes! I'm terrified of snakes, all snakes, dead snakes, fake snakes, photographs of snakes... It's so bad that a friend had to come to my rescue when I accidently wandered over to the snake section of a pet store. I froze there, too afraid to move.

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    1. I'm the same way with horses, Rae. Love to take photos of them (from a safe distance), watch them on tv, but get me within two hundred feet of one and I crumple like a used tissue.

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  11. When I was a little girl, about 3 or 4 years old, I'm told I had a pet blue racer that lived in the garden. Dad said I'd run at him, then he'd slither after me, making me laugh. I have a faint memory of it.
    Yep, I am the odd one in the family :-}

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    1. You must be a snake charmer, Diana. My daughter is the same with lizards. She even made a pet of one that would run to her when she called it.

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  12. At least it wasn't a Burmese python! Nothing besides a very silly pheasant running amok here.

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    1. No pythons or boas here, thank heavens. Further south they're starting to hunt them as they've bred like crazy.

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