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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Snakes, Spiders and Other Small Creatures

Can you see the little creature using it's camouflage abilities, in the pictures below?
This is a Click beetle. We used to play with them when I was a youngster ;) They are harmless, we used to (I still do) get a kick out of how they jump and click when they're on their back. They do this because they can't turn over with their feet, so they arch their back and flip over making a click sound, they can be scary looking with those big false eyes! ;)

A baby praying mantis....waiting for a meal to happen by.

(Upper pic) A small blue tailed skink....trying to get a sweet meal :( If you look to the right you can see an anole lizard trying to do the same.

(upper pic) A garden spider in my chicken pen

A garter snake that was hiding under a bucket in my chicken pen. This isn't the one I was after, but I'm glad I caught her, she was way over five feet long, I took her and the one below far away in a much wooded area and released them. They are totally harmless, but they were eating all of my chicken eggs! I rearranged the coop and so far no more snakes have been in there. ;0)
(upper pic) This little one is the one I was trying to catch, when I discovered the larger one!
(below pic) The release.....I still worry about them being in a new location :(  
(upper pic and below) This little guy is a bluffer! Poor thing, it's a baby/juvenile black rat snake and it's trying to make us think he's a bad poisonous snake, so we'll leave him alone. The sad part is most people kill poison snakes and even sadder is they kill any and all snakes they see. Last week I posted about adult and baby black rat snakes, this one is most probably related to the one that was in my yard. My husband and I had just finished up working in the bee hives when my adorable neighbor called me to come over and help identify a snake they had just caught. At first I wasn't positive that it was truly a black snake until it flattened itself out like a cobra and hissed at me. I've ran upon the adults before in the woods and they will act just like a cobra!

It's just a scare tactic though......I usually run the other way ;) I have total respect for nature and that includes snakes. They are a vital part of our eco system whether humans like it or not. It's just not fair to kill something so natural and a part of God's creation, just to turn around and try to take care of things on our own with chemicals and such! Makes no sense to me how people think sometimes! I'm known as the "weird one" by most, and I love it! ;)
If it weren't for nature lovers like myself......this world would be SO EMPTY!!!!
(upper pic) A garden (banana) spider in my friends garden, the pic below is one on my Mom's porch, arent they lovely ladies?
I hope you will take the time when you're outside to stop and notice the little things God has created for us to enjoy. Don't be scared or afraid, learn about your surroundings, read about the things you find or see. You'll *bee* surprised at how much more you start to enjoy the great outdoors and the joys of nature that God intended for us to enjoy.

Until Next Time....
Explore your surroundings!
Julie ;)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Black Snakes/ Adults and Babies

Last summer I spotted this adult black snake crawling across the yard. It looks as though it just finished a good meal. Last summer I didn't know anything about this snake except that it was black and non-poisonous. It left me alone and I would leave it alone.
Snakes are really such misunderstood creatures.......
Sometimes I feel we have a lot in common. ;)
They don't bother anyone, as a matter of fact snakes are just as scared of us as we are of them. To them we are the predators, well I suppose we ARE the predators, as most people kill them rather eagerly. A couple of months ago I was weeding around some plants and noticed a slight movement.... this one really scared me because it caught me off guard. I just let it stay there and I went on my way..... Can you see it? (picture below) you can click on the pictures for larger viewing.
Then today, after gardening all day around this bush, something caught my eye. I thought it was a piece of dead knotty branch and when I got closer to remove it, I realized it was a snake! Had it been there all day?!? I ran to get my camera so I could identify it. Then I thought it would be better to catch it in a glass jar and bring it to the computer with me for better ID.
I searched for what seemed an hour or more. There just isn't a lot of photos or information on baby snakes. I surfed from site to site, Utube videos, blogs, etc. then I stumbled upon two really great blog sites and that's how I knew beyond a doubt that this is a baby black rat snake! I then remembered the adult black snakes I had seen in the yard.
At first it was a toss up because it looked like it could be an Eastern milk snake...or a King I was really glad to get a positive ID.

I would like to thank the authors and photographers of the sites, they were so helpful! Their pics were wonderful and clear.
Check them out sometime!

I learned a lot about these black snakes today....I have rodents here that are becoming a pest for me and these snakes are here because they are hungry and the food is plentiful. They eat moles, voles, frogs, lizards (I wasn't to happy about that one) and other snakes, even the poison ones. So to me they are keepers and are welcome in my yard!
They are like any predator (in the natural world) they only kill what they can eat, no waste and no gluttons.
The baby snakes have marks on their underside, except for the upper inch or so, it's plain white.
This one is a little over a foot and as round as a pencil. It looks bigger in the pics but it is very tiny!
After identifying it I took it back to the bush where I found it and released it. I'll be looking out for it when I go out there from now on! ;)
Black snakes can lay up to 30 small eggs, in a woody area, but very few make it. I have lots of birds here and a few chickens so I'm sure they have a hard time living here.

I couldn't help myself from taking so many pictures of this tiny helpless creature. It stayed up in the bush for about an hour then it slithered down and on across my small compost pile.......

where it disappeared between the tarp. I'll make extra sure I'm careful out here from now on. You can click on the pics to make them larger.
I also learned something else about them, the pupils of their eyes are round not slatted meaning again non poisonous.
Please before you grab a hoe or shovel to kill something....look it up, identify it......after all, it has just as much of a right to live as you do!! Even if it is "just a snake"! Snakes are very beneficial to our environment.
I think we have thrown our planet life out of "kilter" by being so uninformed and afraid of things. We kill too many helpful things and suffer because of it. THEN pesticides and poisons have to come into the picture....GEEZE!!! Just let nature take care of itself, the rewards will be greater than our harmful efforts!
Until next time!