Friday, November 6, 2009

Post-Halloween Sugar Rush & Garter Snakes

Halloween was spent in New York this year; my Wolf, DMoon, Petester and myself got all dressed up 80s popstar style, trick-or-treated and sung by the roaring flames of a bonfire. It was magical, it was epic, it was cold.

As November rolled around, we groaned our way out of bed and into the forest for an adventure. Boys being boys, they brought along a pellet riffle. Why? To shoot at stuff. I don't think I'll ever completely understand boys, but I digress. We wandered through the forest, the boys targeting signs and painted trees, whilst I chose to silently pray we didn't come across a squirrel or anything else that could be considered a moving target.

We climbed up a pile of boulders and there, sunning itself on a sunlight rock, a common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). Unfortunately, my trigger happy boys made it dissapear before I could catch or 
Common Garter Snake
snap a picture of it. This snake is native to North America and is the most widely distributed snake we have. It can be found coast to coast from as south as Florida to the northern latitudes of the James Bay, Canada.
Garter snakes are known for the stripped pattern along their body, generally yellow and black but this is quite variable. The individual we caught a glimps of had orange strippes and was between 1-1.5ft long, it was a small garter snake since their average size is between 3-4ft.

How about some interesting facts. Garter snakes are not toxic to humans although they may release a foul-smelling liquid is you handle them too much. This species is ovoviviparous, a sweet word meaning that they give birth to live, wiggling, young - as opposed to laying eggs like most reptiles. Its diurnal, meaning it's out and about during the day. Last but not least, in addition to worms and amphibians (e.g. frogs and salamanders), they also like to munch on fish, rodents and small birds. How impressive would that be, to see a snake catch a bird.

I kept my eyes peeled for other garter snakes, but to no avail. I did however see skunk cabbages, a huge spider, jelly mold, a beech tree grove, a giant oak leaf and a mysterious red-berry plant. I'll tell you more about these sightings another time, along with some pictures and more fun facts.

Just as our forest ramble ended, so must this post for I must get on with the dishes. I end with our last encounter, another tribe of rambling humans. The alpha male of this tribe approached DMoon, who was carrying the riffle at the time, inquiring after the weapon. Musing over the possibility of shooting some squirrels, he asked if we had shot something to which I responded, "Not while I'm around". The alpha male, turned swiftly in my direction, gave me a once over and said, "You must be one of those Naturalists right?". Having never put much thought towards the question, this identification, although said in a condescending manor, turned out to be true. I am a Naturalist, a person that studied Natural History or a wildlife enthusiast. I guess this is what this blog is all about, the ramblings of a Naturalist. Thank you sir, who ever you are.

Take care!
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1 comment:

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