April 27, 2011

Squirrels a Bother? Get a Snake

I heard a thud in the front yard as I checked new transplants in the Upper Garden, as if a dead limb had hit the ground. When I went to check, Buffy was barking at something. I called her to the house when I saw a snake's head rise from a pile of something greyish.

If you can't make head or tail of this, it is a White Oak Rat Snake Elaphe obsoleta spiloides wrapped around the body of a squirrel. Squirrel's tail and hind feet are at left. Neither head is visible as Snake is trying to swallow Squirrel. Squirrel is very still and green bottle flies are already here.
I suspect Snake lay in wait along an oak limb above, blending in well. He struck Mr. Squirrel as he came in reach. The thud was them hitting the ground where Snake's plan was to finish off his meal.

Disturbed, Snake hissed his displeasure at me. You can tell he is not a rattlesnake because there is no pit between his beady little eyes, besides the different markings that distinguish a Rat Snake.

Satisfied that I'm coming no closer, he gave a little smile with his forked tongue still out.

Then he returned to his meal.

I left him alone to swallow Squirrel, intending to go back and get pictures of Mr. Snake (Miss Snake?) when he was all lumpy and full. When I went back he was gone and there was no sign of the Squirrel.

Two snakes in two days! Yesterday's snake was a Corn Snake. Fortunately both are of the Elaphe family and welcome in the garden to take care of rodents and such.

 I'm careful where I put my hands and feet. While not poisonous, rat snakes will bite and the bite can get infected or we can react to the venom they use to kill their prey the way one is allergic to bee stings.


ramblingwoods said...

Welcome to Nature Notes..I am so happy to see your blog... Wow... It must have been a very large snake to take down a gray squirrel... amazing.. Michelle

MyMaracas said...

Good timing, to have been there just when this happened. Amazing shots.

I've always been puzzled that I haven't seen a snake here yet. We're in the country, part wetland, full of frogs and mice and squirrels and birds. You'd think we'd be knee-deep in 'em - not that I'm complaining about it, mind you.

Heather at Dusty Bay said...

Oh yikes!! I know it's the circle of life and everything but... well NOT IN MY GARDEN, thankyouverymuch.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling me about this blog and post. A little gruesome, but really interesting. I never heard of a White Oak Rat Snake, yet we have Rat Snakes here in NY. He is a big one. What a way to go...imagine being that squirrel.

eileeninmd said...

Amazing photos. It must have been a big snake to go after a squirrel. Thanks for sharing.

trav4adventures said...

Oh,my! When I first saw your snake, I did a double take...looking at the head. Then, his tail was a blur. I found a young red diamondback rattlesnake on the mountain road a few weekends ago. I pulled over, grabbed a stick (to remove him from the road), but two cars ran over it before I could get to him. He was dying, but I was able to at least get him off the road and observe him. I did a post about it. Come see. Yes, he had a triangular head! But, he was a youngster and only had a button at the end of his tail, so I wouldn't have heard him rattle! I'm glad I at least had a chance to observe him (he never made an aggressive move toward me...), but I am sad that one of God's creatures was so thoughtlessly run over. Rattlesnakes, like other snakes, keep the rodents in control. We just have to be aware of their presence.

trav4adventures said...

Here's the link to my snake story:

Andrea said...

It is a big snake, i thought it is a python. We also have lots of python here which swallow chicks and chicken. Are you not afraid of them in your backyard? You should see my post now, also a snake, and you might be surprised at the fate of our snake!

Desperate Gardener said...

Wow you weren't kidding! I've got to show this post to my grandma!

I Blog Here & Here too