We know living where we do that venomous snakes are just part of the package. We’ve seen or heard copperheads and diamondbacks on occasion, but not in our yard. Not ’til a couple of weeks ago that is. We know we have snake burrows under the front porch which house nonvenomous long Eastern coachwhips and hognose snakes. So looking down off the deck, there was a new snakeskin pattern coiled in the grass. “Hey!” I yelled to my husband. “We’ve got a new snake and I think he’s venomous!” He spotted the rattle — and right then we had our first timber rattler — or at least the first one we know of.

Timber rattler
Timber rattler curled up in a warm spot on the south side of the house.

Happy herp day!

Now that it’s warmer, the herps on the hill are becoming more visible. We were so glad to see the appearance a young eastern coachwhip after spotting a freshly shed skin last night.

We used to have a bevy of coachwhips and hognose snakes in a complex of burrows under the front porch. However, we did not see any last spring or summer, which coincided with the appearance of two large fire ant mounds within a few feet of the burrow openings. We don’t know if those two are related, but Amdro took care of the fire ants last fall and now a snake reappears.

Snake season 2014 is now open

Our first snake sighting — at least of one near the house — happened on Wednesday.  A little water snake warming himself on the concrete road  that runs near the neighborhood pond. We just missed running him over and stopped the car to get out and my husband moved him to a safer location. He wan’t terribly appreciative of the gesture and lunged at the air near my husband’s legs. (After getting home, we had to looked him up be sure he wasn’t a copperhead.)

The sighting was to the day we posted last year’s “Opening day for snake season. And two years to the day after posting “Snakes in the garden.” At least our neighborhood snakes seem to be consistent.


water snake coiling

Weekly photo challenge: Pattern

This week’s challenge is “pattern.” Nature always provides her share.

More patterns can be found here:

And of course, the main challenge page:

Checkered future

The spell of desperately hot, dry 100-degree days has been broken by a couple of cold fronts, bringing rain and temps in the 70s and 80s. When the rain finally stopped, wildlife emerged; deer wandering the woods and a young hognose warming himself on the stones lining the driveway. Hognoses wear an enormous variety of colors and have a very unique set of defensive behaviors that include, at one end, playing dead. At the other end of the spectrum is its cobra-like threat that has earned it the nickname “puff adder.”

WARMING — A young hognose emerges for a bit of a warmup after hours of cooling thunderstorms.
SCALING THE ROCKS — Hognose eventually wound his way back into his lair.

Shed my skin

We often peer down from the deck, in hopes of catching a glimpse our under-porch neighbors enjoying the sun. While we didn’t see our serpentine neighbors today, we did find they’d left us yet another beautiful gift.  And unlike last month’s find, this summer solstice present was complete, including head, eye scales and lower jaw. The former owner was much more slender and quite a bit longer: 6 feet and counting.

EMPTY HEADED — Where our serpent friend left his head.
MEASURING UP — The snake skin against the tape measure. The tail ends past the 6-foot mark on this tape measure.