Beating the Odds (Again)

This was my lucky day.  I was moving a potted plant that had rooted itself to the patio.  With a gloved hand, I carefully pulled up each rooted plantlet.  When I picked up the pot, I found a familiar critter all cuddled up under the plant.  I believe it was the same Copperhead I had seen earlier. How I wasn’t bitten, I’ll never know.  I certainly beat the odds once more.

Snakes of the Good Kind and One Bad Kind

Spring brings many critters to the garden, which includes snakes.  I probably see more snakes in the Spring than any other time. I found a juvenile Rat Snake in the warm stones in the front yard. They eat rodents, lizards or toads, but will climb trees to eat eggs from bird nests.  I can always tell when the birds spot a Rat Snake, as they all gather and scream at it. This snake is not venomous to humans, but could bite and pass disease.

These two Ribbon Snakes have paired up for the season.  The large one has recently had a feeding. I came across her a few days later and got an eyeful of what exactly she likes to eat.  I’m not posting that photo.  These snakes are also called garden or green snakes. They are not venomous and eat garden pests.

And now the snake of the bad kind.  This is a Copperhead and helps by eating bugs and rodents, but is venomous to humans. Most people live after being bit.  This young snake was curled up in my planter. A reminder to look first. I have also found Copperheads to be mostly chill and like to watch whatever I’m doing.

(Sorry about the quality of these photos, as they were snapped quickly with my phone.)

Before I got around to posting this, the young Copperhead (I think it is the same one) decided to visit the back porch.  Naturally, it found a nice corner near the door my husband would be coming through soon. My husband, who is not into nature as much as I am, always has these snake encounters and this is the second time one waited for him at the garage door.

Copperheads have a very distinctive  Hershey Kiss pattern on their skin.

My tip for making snakes move without hurting them is to gently hose them with water or even throwing bowls of water on them.  Unfortunately, this youngster was a bit clueless, as many young are, and came towards me instead of away when I threw water on it.

Second Spring in the Garden

I came across this baby Copperhead that seems to be going through a difficult molt. This photo was taken in the morning.

I checked on the snake late in afternoon and it was still on the same rock.  Its tail is in a new position, so I knew it was alive.  No, I did not poke it to check.  Molting or the preferred description, shedding or the scientific word ecdysis, seems to be hard work.  I did some research and it said a snake in captivity can be helped by its owner.  With a Copperhead, I decided to let nature take its course.  It seems late in the year for babies, but…

there are lots of baby lizards, anoles and geckos, around.  This green anole greets me every morning from its home on a potted plant by my door.

The garden has been full of these yellow Cloudless Sulphur butterflies.  There were at least 7 flying around. They were not very interested in posing for photos, so this is the best shot I was able to get.

Quite a few Gulf Fritillary butterflies have been visiting. They had been gone from the garden for a few years and just started coming back last Fall. The Bottle Brush decided to put out a few flowers attracting the butterflies and bees.

My Japanese Anemone has been struggling all year, but has finally bloomed.

My Confederate Rose is still blooming and giving me joy every day.  With the cooler weather, it is skipping the light pink color and going directly to dark rose.  Here in the Gulf Coast area, this time of year is often called our second Spring and it certainly seems that way with baby animals and newly blooming flowers.


Snakes in Gardens


For some reason I am seeing Copperhead Snakes everywhere.  Usually, they are around mostly in the Spring, but there seems to be a new brood of snakelets this Fall.  The first photo, taken on September 10th, is a medium sized one, probably a juvenile.  I was cleaning out a bed when I spotted it.


While volunteering at our botanical garden on the 13th, I was pulling weeds around this baby Copperhead that was molting.


On September 19th, this big snake was exploring outside my kitchen window.


It caught my eye because the rabbit was also in the same bed and was acting strangely.  The only predators for Copperheads are the occasional hawk and  humans.  But I swear I saw a rabbit kill a Copperhead once, the rabbit had blood on it and the snake was dead.


This was an interesting situation and I watched it play out while safely inside taking  photos through the window. The rabbit took a non aggressive stance and kept an eye on the snake until it moved on.  When all was clear, the rabbit went back to its favorite napping spot under the Camellias.


Two days later, I spotted a little head from the other side of a flower pot, but it turned out to be a rather large Five-lined Skink.

All in One Day


I was checking a bed in the backyard when I hear a loud ruckus on the other side of the fence.  A flock of Bluejays were screaming and  Chickadees were joining in.  I was hoping to see a Barred Owl or an Eagle, but the birds were low in the trees and looking at the ground.  The animal upsetting them was a Rat Snake.


The Rat Snake was slinking away and going for cover.  He looks lumpy and maybe just ate. The brave little Chickadees were right above him and didn’t seem to mind me being there.  Rat Snakes can crawl up trees and eat eggs and baby birds.  This one was quite long and they can get up to 6 feet in length.  According to my research, they curl up and defend themselves, are not venomous, but will bite. This snake allowed me to snap quite a few photos with my phone.  I have encountered them before and never found the Rat Snakes vicious and they usually slither away.


Next, I headed to the front yard to collect Poppy seeds.  I noticed this Copperhead right before I stepped on the rock.  It is still a baby and I have been told they are more venomous than adults.  I find Copperheads just like to watch.


And not as scary, I found a Crawfish hole.  Apparently, there are various kinds of these creatures, but are all very similar.  They can also be called Crayfish.  Crayfish is the name an English scientist gave to them and Crawfish is the American name and used in the South.  Crawfish it shall be.  Unwelcomed   critters seemed to show up in the garden all in one day.

Chores Interrupted


Some plants were not watered this morning.  A young Copperhead Snake was on the back porch, nicely curled up in a plant saucer.  It did not mind the photo shoot at all.

A “Chocolate Kiss” Morning


There are many ways to jolt yourself awake in the morning.  I was out early feeding the birds, when I noticed a tree branch had fallen into a bed.  I started to grab it and spotted a coiled snake with a distinct pattern of chocolate kisses on its side.  A sure sign that the creature was a venomous Copperhead.  No more coffee was needed!