Second Snake Sighting and Top Ten Cool Rattlesnake Facts

Eastern Garden Snake found in front of my house.

Another Snake Sighting!

I’ve seen many different animals while living in New Jersey, especially since my house abuts the South Mountain Reservation. Want to know what I’ve spotted? Check out Animal Kingdom in the Suburbs. But, I’ve never seen skunks despite smelling them, and I’ve never seen a snake…until last week.

While walking Lucy, my neighbors (shout out to Jeanne and Jim) said there was a snake on the road ahead. I kept an eye out, but it must have moved on. I returned home to see our cat Midnight batting what looked like a small branch. It wasn’t a branch? It was a small snake! I figured it was a harmless garter snake so, you guessed it hon, I picked it up! So cool! It was smooth and surprisingly warm. Another neighbor (shout out to Heather) was walking her bear–umm, I mean giant, black, fluffy dog Gracie–when she said, “What have you got there?” She thought the snake was cool, too.

You know who wasn’t that interested in this exciting finding? Lucy and Gracie! They were all like sniff, sniff, done. But Midnight stayed half hidden in his “jungle” (the garden in front of my house), watching. Why? Because he wanted to finish the job he started! That poor, little snake had an injury–a wound on its underside with a spot of blood. Midnight wasn’t just playing with it. 😦

I nestled the little snake in dense brush. I hope its’ wound heals and returns to doing whatever it is Eastern Garden Snakes do.

How strange that I go for years without seeing a wild snake, and in the span of a month, there are two in my path? Hmmm, is it a sign or coincidence?

The other snake I came upon was, you may remember, coiled and rattling in New Mexico. Hon, of course I wanted to know more about rattlesnakes! Wouldn’t you?

Top Ten Cool Rattlesnake Facts:

  1. “Rattles are segments of keratin that fit loosely inside one another at the end of the snake’s tail. These segments knock against each other to produce a buzzing sound when the snake holds its tail vertically and vibrates the rattle. Each time a rattlesnake sheds its skin it adds another segment to the rattle.”(Source: Madison, Wisconsin herpotologist Sara Viernum.)
  2. In addition to rattling, rattlesnakes warn by hissing.
  3. Snakes do not communicate with each other by hissing since they’re deaf to airborne sounds. Their hiss is a warning for animals that can hear.
  4. There are 32 different species of rattlesnakes.
  5. The snakes can are found everywhere from sea level to a high elevation of 11,000 feet (3,353 m).
  6. Several generations of rattlesnakes will use the same dens.
  7. “Mothers can store sperm for months before fertilizing the eggs, and then they carry babies for about three months.”
  8. “Rattlesnakes are ovoviviparous, which means that eggs incubate inside the mother’s body. Babies are born live, encased in a thin membrane that they puncture after being born.”
  9. “The digestive process can take several days, and rattlesnakes become sluggish and hide during this time. Adult rattlers eat about every two weeks.”
  10. Rattlesnakes most distinctive features are their triangular heads and vertical pupils.

Sources: Rattlesnake facts: Live Science and Reptiles Magazine; Photo of Western Tanager: South Dakota Birds and Birding

Dog, Cat, Mouse–Caught!

The Immobile Mouse!

The temperature was dropping, the water in the bowl had turned into a block of ice, and Midnight-the-Barn-Cat was looking skinnier than usual despite being fed twice a day. So, just like in my post “Cat and Mouse and Chipmunk,” I played cat and mouse–I became the cat and the cat became the mouse. Caught!

Outside, Midnight wants to be seen and acknowledged, but not picked up and pet. He’s like a tiny jaguar:  prowling, pouncing, hiding and hunting. He’s a very good hunter! Inside, Midnight turns into a mush, lifting his chin for scratches, cuddling contentedly on my lap, and squeaking when he’s had enough. Purr and squeak!

Insert the mouse.

Living in an historic house, you get used to mice in the winter and insects year-round. Good thing I’m not afraid of little animals and won’t kill a spider. If the lifespan of a field mouse is a few years, then the mouse in our house should get a world record because it’s been wintering here for about eight years. When Lucy spots the mouse, she does nothing! Her nonchalance says, “Oh, it’s you again. Please, help yourself to my food,” which is why I thought bringing Midnight inside would accomplish two things:  he’d warm up and the mouse would high-tail it out of here. Wrong!

I started composing a poem in my head about the dog, cat, mouse situation. I got as far as “Dog peeks, cat squeaks, and mouse sneaks.” “Can’t resist” and “coexist” were floating around along with “warm house” and “cheeky mouse,” but then…

there was the mouse being watched over by Midnight! Caught!

Upon inspection, I couldn’t tell if the mouse was immobile because it was in shock or because it had internal injuries. There were no bite marks or scratches. My guess? Midnight thought it was a toy. Then again, he is a good hunter. I picked up the mouse, warmed it, pet it, talked to it–eyes so shiny eyes and paws so tiny–and set it free outside. Poor thing! 

I thought the mouse matter was put to rest, but then…

…A DIFFERENT mouse was rooting around in Lucy’s food bowl!

“Midnight? Where are you!”

Cat and Mouse and Chipmunk

 

When I’m the cat and the cat’s the mouse!

The only time I can get Midnight in the house is when I play cat and mouse with him! One of the times (there have been several) he toyed with a fledgling, I left a door open, he wandered inside and blam! I shut the door, trapping him inside. This way, when I returned the baby bird to the brush under its nest, it had a fighting chance. Hon, don’t cry, “Poor Midnight” since the cat has a dog-free zone filled with a comfy bed, scratching post, a couch, and lots of cuddles and kisses. Now, if only Midnight would get the message…

Staring Contest

The staring contest between Lucy in Midnight is funny! I love the pics above, which show them concentrating, but with roles reversed. Lucy has accepted Midnight, chasing all other cats off the property. Isn’t that nice of her? Now, if only Midnight would get the message…

This has not been a good summer for small animals!

It seems like every few days, we come across a deceased bird or small animal! What the heck is going on?! I don’t think it’s all Midnight’s doing. I wrote this tribute to one of those sad creatures.

Chipmunk Eulogy

Chipmunk would no longer chat,

Scurry like an acrobatic,

Or stand on base or be at bat.

Sad to say, he was laid out flat,

Thin and gone and, oh no, splat!

I wiped a tear and tipped my hat

Checked my car.

Did I do that?

Couldn’t be.

I blame the cat!