Until it's not.
Yesterday as I was walking across the sun-baked corral I kicked up a 13-lined ground squirrel.
When I say kicked up, I mean that I approached the ground squirrel close enough to make it skitter away from me, not that I actually kicked it.
The little rodent dashed off to the shelter of an old, mostly buried tractor tire. I watched it run away and take cover. "Hmm," I thought, "he must have a hole there. Good place now that I think about it because the soil must be soft and easy to dig in."
As I watched I could see his tail flicking up and down. "Must be digging in," I thought.
Then I noticed that one of his back legs was kicking. All I could see was of him was the flicking tail and a kicking back leg. "That's firetrucking weird," I thought.
Then I saw the multicolored glint of sunlight reflecting from scales. "Ah-ha!"
My camera was in my pickup, several hundred yards away. I dashed. You just don't see snakes predating stuff every day and I wanted to record it for posterity. Or sensationalism. Whatever.
As I sprinted past the tire-snake-rodent combo I noted that the snake was almost certainly a bull snake. Because it looked -- the part I could see -- like a bull snake. Slightly different color and shape than a rattlesnake, and far too large to be a racer or garter snake. I also noticed that the snake's color was bright and vibrant, rather than dull and dusty. Which likely meant that it had shed its skin in the not so distant past.
When I returned to the tire, all excited to get some images and video, I approached too quickly and made too much noise. Before I could focus the camera the snake disappeared. The last thing I saw was the backside of the ground squirrel being dragged down out of sight.
"I thought you said it was some kind of squirrel, dude!"
This morning I went back to the tire and found that the snake was still there. He was likely lethargic with the cool of the morning and with the ongoing digestion of a large meal. He was probably in a perfect place for his condition, out of sight of potential predators. He had good overhead cover, which would keep him safe from hawks, and he was close to the ranch house, barn and people and therefore off the beaten path for coyotes. Fortunately for him, the scariest of all predators had found him but was neither hungry nor in a snake-killing mood.
|Round pupil, no IR pit.|
|No cataract on this side!|
Anyway, the moral of the story is the moral of the story of life.
It's all rainbows and unicorns.
Until it's not.