Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spiders and snakes

Without the spiders, and only one snake.

Without the romance, too.

Pretty thin offering, eh?

BTW, during yesterday's junk/treasure adventure I took, according to my gear fit, more than 10,000 steps totaling something over five miles. It also recorded 51 flights of stairs negotiated. Had I not begun getting back into shape a while back I'd have been unable to hang at all. As it is, I'm a bit sore in muscles which I haven't been working, but that soreness gives me an idea for further improvement.

This little guy (or gal) was sunning on the hard dirt near a gate as I checked cows last evening.

Bull snakes are neat, in my opinion. They are non-venomous constrictors and are very different than the prairie rattlesnake which also makes its home in this part of the world. Bull snakes are more slender and have a much greater length to girth ratio than prairie rattlers. Their coloration is considerably different as well.

The bull snake's head is oval, its face lacks the pits characteristic of a pit viper like the rattlesnake, and its pupils are round rather than vertically slit.

Nevertheless the bull snake has a similar camouflage pattern to the prairie rattlesnake, and as the two snakes are usually similar in size, bull snakes are often mistaken for rattlesnakes. When they feel threatened, bull snakes aggressively mimic rattlesnake behavior. They vibrate their rattle-less tails, and if the tip of their tail happens to vibrate in dried leaves or grass the sound it makes is somewhat akin to a rattle. They coil up and raise their head in a threat pose. They also tighten neck muscles which cause their head to appear triangular shaped rather than lozenge shaped.

All in all, it's a clever ruse. I suspect it works pretty well with some predators, which is a good thing for the snake. Unfortunately for the snake it also works very well on humans. Instead of running away, though, humans tend to kill the snake. In that sense the rattlesnake mimicry backfires and does more harm to the snake than good.

Despite heavy predation by humans, neither bull snakes nor rattlesnakes are in any danger of being driven to extinction. Both kind of snakes eat rodents, and this is part of the reason why we're not overrun with rats and mice in this part of the world.

I'm always glad to see bull snakes on the ranch. Rattlesnakes too. Their presence is a sign of a healthy ecosystem.


  1. You been talking to the NSA, Shaun?
    See Tomorrow.

    1. Hmm. Sounds ominous.

      I haven't been talking to them but I'm sure they've been listening. When they find the time between ransomware walking operations, that is.

  2. Snakes ergh...

    You and Juvat, it's like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom up in here!

    1. We need somebody to jump out of the helo and tackle the snakes. Someone named Jim, or perhaps, a Sergeant!