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

Jekyll and Hyde Doggie

Lucy hypnotizes us with her “people eyes.”

Don’y let Lucy’s cutie cuteness fool you.

I am an accessory to aggravated assault and I blame Lucy!

My former sweet, little angel has never shown an interest in birds. Chipmunks? Yes. Squirrels? Definitely. Groundhogs? Think fatality. In the animal kingdom-also-known-as-my-backyard, she saves growling and running around the yard 30 mph for small, skittish mammals. Birds are barely worth a low huff, wet nose, or tail twitch.

Our vet thinks Lucy is a part Border Collie, part Black-Lab (aka. Labracollie), which explains why she loves to retrieve tennis balls and herd young children. When Lucy herds, she uses a “soft mouth” and wet nose, bonking and nipping as if to say, “Hey, you sheep, you cows, cluster!”

When Lucy’s outside, she surveys the meadow (umm, yard) from the porch, alerting us to cars and passersby. I’ve read that Border Collies hypnotize herds with their intense, brown eyes, and I believe it. Lucy stares at us intensely with her “people eyes,” hypnotizing us with her inner thoughts. (“Give me meat.” or “Play ball with me.”)

A few days ago, we spotted a Blue Jay fledgling on our driveway. It was all fuzzy down and short feathers. I was fascinated. (Hon, do you know me at all?) I squatted down. It stared at me. I inched closer. It squeaked. I came a little closer. It hop hop hopped down the driveway. Adorable! Lucy was indifferent. Since birds were never a cause for maniacal barking or hypnotism, how was I to know she was secretly Jekyll and Hyde?

The next day, Lucy and I spotted the fledgling on the sidewalk. “There you are,” I said. “Aren’t you cute?” I said. “We won’t hurt you,” I said. Lucy lowered her head as if to sniff the bird, so I let her get a bit closer. All of a sudden, she lunged and grabbed the bird!

After yanking Lucy’s collar while screaming, “Bad dog!”, I picked up the baby bird* who wasn’t bitten or bleeding but limp-ish. Oh no! Did Lucy break its neck or pick it up with a “soft mouth?” Was the bird was just shaken up, stunned and going to come-to later? I searched the internet to find out if birds play dead, and found that some people witnessed this phenomenon, but without confirmation by an expert, it seemed like a wish.

When I returned to the scene of the crime later that day, the baby bird was gone. Did a cat find it? Or a fox? Or–maybe, just maybe–as soon as we left, it perked its little head up and hopped away?

One can only hope.

Adorable Baby Jay.

* It’s a myth that if you touch a baby bird, the mommy won’t take care of it anymore. Click here to read more.

Source: Live Science

I’d love to hear if your “sweet little angels” are harboring killer instincts.