Monday, September 14, 2009

Fun with Nature, #18

Our Snake Skin Discovery

Have you ever found a few topics of study weren't those you chose yourself, rather they came calling and through them they invited you in to their world of mystery and wonder?

The big wide world of snakes opened up for us during two separate surprise visits from very long garter snakes slithering about while we were working outdoors in the front of our property. My "Fun with Nature #15" which you can READ ABOUT HERE offered my readers a complete saga of our adventure when our son decided to fill some of his time in hot pursuit of capturing said victim. :-)

The Snake Hunter

A few weeks ago our son discovered a large snake skin inside of our garage, near the door. When he first announced it to the rest of us, we thought "Nah!", and just shook our heads and snickered.

Our joker extraordinaire, he usually played tricks on us but when his face expresssed that "look" of shock on his face, I knew he was for real.

Two of us grabbed our shoes and went out to check on the recent discovery. Sure enough, a snake had entered our garage, maybe he was there awhile, maybe not. We had had a situation with a few wee mice roaming the outskirts of the garage area during the night which we had hoped was rectified, maybe this snake had originally entered in there because he was hunting them. Hmmm...

But how did he get in? Did we leave the larger doors open one too many times for too long a time? No idea. But he had definitely been visiting us there. Quickly I snatched it up and took it outdoors where I personally felt it belonged for a long observation time, camera in hand of course. (wink) Together we took turns chatting about what we were thinking, some holding it for a closer look, some refusing to do so.

After reading through our nature books on snakes again, we discovered a snake can shed its skin every few months for a new smoother one.

Noted was the fact it usually rubbed its head on a sharp rock or a branch to tear the old skin. Then it crawls around until the old skin is peeled off - inside out!

Through the years we have found snake skins, though never whole long strips of them. Of interest was this particular skin of course, but when I noticed the two wee holes where the snake's eyes had been, I became filled with wonder and wanted to run to research even more about these slithering and sometimes slimy things.

Here are a few more facts about these reptiles;
  • - A healthy snake can shed its skin bimonthly, a sign of growth and good health.
  • - One can tell a snake is about to shed its skin by observing its eyes because they will begin to look a bit cloudy.
  • - A snake will lose complete interest in eating until after its skin is fully shed.
  • - The shedding process takes a day or two.
  • - If a snake is having difficulty in shedding its skin, it is a sign of poor moisture so one is encouraged to spray water on the snake to assist it.
  • - Other mammals collect snake skins to mask their smells from predators.

And even more information....
  • - These snakes make cheap pets and provide exciting entertainment with feeding times.
  • - He is an efficient hunter with a diet preference of; fish, small mammals (mice!), small frogs, slugs and leeches. They are actually our friends in this way right?
  • - Hundreds of these guys will overwinter together in an underground hibernaculum (fancy word huh?), emerging in spring to mate and then disperse.
  • - A single female can give birth to 3-83 young in a single litter (eewwww)
  • - Colors and patterns of their skins vary from dark olive green to black, stripes, checkers, yellow, red or brown.
  • -They are often found in meadows and throughout southern Ontario where we live.
  • - Naturally our acreage is an attractive place for such reptiles to visit and feel right at home, but gee...
Check out an abundance of garter snake information at THIS WEBSITE HERE for more.

As far as discovering garter snakes on our property, I would much rather find them than the Bermese Pythons found in our local zoo, you know the one they bring out for the live shows and encourage people to stroke and pet? Hooey!

Bermese Python (found at our local zoo)

And as always, you can check out and read more of our previous "Fun with Nature" and/or "Nature Study" posts by CLICKING HERE.