Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Snakes About

It was a pretty full week, this past one. The highlight: I got to handle a Gopher snake (Pituophis sp.) found outside of the building where I work. It was late afternoon on a not-particularly-hot sort of day (low 80's). Someone came and got me from the drudgery that comes with writer's block during the 4 O'Clock lull... They knew it'd make my day (they were right). I'm no reptile biologist, but right away you can see that the head is small and narrow, and lacking venom glands; he's a constrictor. The snake was incredibly docile, given the small audience of humans close by. He remained unmoved with his "chin" resting on a rock. So I got right up close, laid on the ground and snapped photos to my heart's content.

The staff wanted him relocated, though, so I touched his tail to test the waters -- he didn't respond at all. Goody. There is nothing like the feel of a snake. Or even the presence of a snake. I suspect a lot of people would agree with that, but perhaps for differing reasons (!).

I gently, respectfully picked his 3' long body up by the tail region and placed him in a waiting bucket. He remained perfectly calm before suddenly launching himself right back out, a feat he made look effortless. I was happy to get to hold him again, and with minor protesting back in he went (with a lid this time). In moments he was relocated to an area of our facility with less foot traffic and plenty of prey. Being a constrictor, most everyone was glad to keep him around. I didn't get peed on, the snake got a nice home. Great day all around.


Max said...

It's amazing how some bull snakes are so docile and others are hyper-agressive. Have you ever seen one shake it's tail and hiss to imitate a rattler?

JP said...

I have not, but read they can vary in temperament. Clearly you have some southwest stories to share, Max!