Thursday, May 12, 2005

You again!

Yesterday morning Jasmine sounded her "Snake! It's a snake!" bark again. This time at least she had the sense to be angry with the non-biting end of the gray rat snake. His mouth was otherwise occupied anyway.

Wayne from Niches asked in previous comments if rat snakes ate eggs. Yes they do.

The blue one he's swallowing is a Mallard egg, which is a bit larger and heavier than a chicken egg.

Pretty amazing.

Tell-tale lump:

While his business end was busy, I sneaked a peek at his belly.

And got a closer look at his scales. I hadn't noticed the slight ridges the other day.

Not too hard to get into the duck pen.

Obviously I need to start removing the duck eggs first thing in the morning. We feed them to the dog so it's not a big loss, I just don't want the snake getting into the habit. If he keeps it up I'm afraid he's going to find the chicken coop.

Of course I'm not really sure if this is the same individual from earlier in the week - not sure how territorial they are. (I tried Googling it but kept coming up with herpetophile Fred from Fragments from Floyd instead.)

We saw another large gray rat snake close to the creek last night. They must be doing well this year.


Wayne Hughes said...

Those are absolutely amazing pictures. Congratulations! That's one photogenic snake.

It's a shame though - rat snakes are good feeders on noxious pests. I guess it's a matter of easy pickings.

Anonymous said...

Mallard eggs? So are they wild ducks? Or are they domesticated? Are you raising Mallards or merely giving them undisturbed nesting space?

This really is a blog that merits visiting every single day! Thank you.

shannon said...

Those ARE great pics! Most snakes are territorial - just not sure how big a rat snake's territory is :)Considering how rarely snakes eat, even if there is a bountiful supply of eggs, I woudln't worry too much about losing chicken eggs to him...he probably is feasting on eggs this time of year and will move on once all the baby rats and mice come out on their own to "explore". We'll see if Ripley learned her lesson about the beehive NOT being a good place to sniff, evn though it does smell like honey!

Anvilcloud said...

These photos are totally awesome -- as the younger generation might say.

robin andrea said...

Beautiful photographs. Do you ever send links to the Modulator? On Fridays he hosts the Ark, and posts links to all the finest animal shots. These photos are spectacular and should be seen by lots of animal lovers, and lovers of such fine artistry.
If you are interested:
You can post the link in comments on Friday, or you can send him an email.
Great stuff here, as usual.

Rurality said...

Thanks y'all.

Wayne I moved him back to his bramble, which is right by where we found him under the bush hog several times last summer... assuming it's the same individual. Hopefully he'll get back to work on the rats.

Pablo, this one is a domestic Mallard. She looks just the same as a wild one, but doesn't fly unless something is chasing her. She waddles around with our Indian Runner ducks, trying to keep up. We did have 3 Mallards, but the coyotes got 2 of them in one night, before we realized we'd need to pen them after dark.

Thanks Shannon, that's good to know. I was about to start trying to find someone who'd want him as a pet! He really does seem awfully docile. I'm still not going to pick him up without a long stick though. :) Oh man I'd hate to see Jasmine near a beehive!

RD, I hadn't heard of that before, I'll check it out, thanks. You are too kind!

I was just outside a minute ago and saw either a Cooper's or a Sharp-shinned Hawk carrying off a baby snake! Not sure which hawk it was, since it was that in-between size (and I'm not good at telling them apart anyway).

Also heard the first Yellow-billed cuckoo of the season and, I think, a Pie-billed grebe.

Anonymous said...

It's hard not to feel sorry for the mallard mom, though I know it's life and snake's gotta eat too!

roger said...

great pix indeed!!!

i'm assuming you tasted the duck eggs and found them wanting. also that the dog gets the eggs sans shells so she (jasmine sounds feminine) doesn't equate eggs with food. wouldn't do to have jasmine sneaking a chicken egg snack.

we have the same confusion id'ing those two hawks.

Karen said...

Very good pictures! As a city slicker I thoroughly enjoyed them. (My first impulse was to yell, "shoot it!")

Here via Hick's blog. She loves ya!

I'm going to check out your handmade soap website. Is there a blog post where you talk about how your home business came about? I quit my desk job in April and am now pondering options (including home-based businesses!)

Charles said...

I’m beginning to suspect that you work for National Geographic or Audubon. If you post an Ivory Bill pic and start in about how your dog alerted you to it, I’m going to be VERY suspicious. I’m not sure of what, but I’ll be suspicious.

Rurality said...

Noivory, this Mallard mom isn't sad at all... she has no brooding instinct at all apparently. I was hoping she might hatch out some eggs for us, but she's not a bit interested so far. At this point I'm not sure we need any more ducks anyway though. They have gone back to their old ways and don't want any part of the ponds!

DPR I'm ashamed to admit that we haven't actually tried the duck eggs. We just don't much like the way they smell! I should try it though, I know. We cook them for Jasmine. Unfortunately she has sometimes helped herself to a duck egg snack when they've occasionally laid one later in the day. If she ever starts showing an interest in the coop we may have to do some additional training.

Hi Karen, I'm a Karen too. :) I don't think I've ever blogged about that but there is a little info on the "About Us" page on the soap site. For me, it really helped that my husband had already had his own business. There's a lot to running a small business... normally you have to learn it all since you can't afford to hire things out in the beginning (accounting, etc). But I have really enjoyed it. I took a couple of short classes about it too. One was put on by the Small Business Admin - not sure if they still do that type of thing or not.

Charles - har dee har har. I can't even get a decent pic of a bird at the feeder! But thanks.

Happy and Blue 2 said...

You should put a beach ball in the nest..

Karen Schmautz said...

I looked at your pictures and I blogged about them at my blog but I forgot to comment on your site.


You'll never scare me away from here...I love your photos.

fred said...

The ridges you noticed on the scales are called "keels" and help to make rat snakes such good climbers, giving them a bit of extra purchase on trees, fences, or chicken coops!

Anonymous said...


Don't think I've ever seen a snake that big in person. We mostly have little garden snakes, although out west I"ve seen a few rattlers. Nothing that sucks down whole eggs like that.

Rurality said...

H&B, now that would make an interesting picture!

Thanks for blogging about my blog, Hick! Would you believe that I am thinking about blogging even in my dreams now?! Last night I dreamed that I saw some very interesting little green turtles. Their defence mechanism was that they looked like little piles of green poop when they closed themselves up in their shells! In the dream I thought, "I've got to get my camera and put this on my blog!" LOL.

Hey thanks Fred, I should have known I could depend on you for herp info! I didn't appreciate Botany & Zoology classes in high school so I'm having to learn it all over again.

Jerry - me neither, before these guys. Well except for one rattlesnake at our old neighbor's house. That one was almost this big. Thank goodness these are not mean ones. I think I may have over-estimated his length a bit the first time I wrote about him... he may be closer to 5 feet than 6 feet. But I'm not going to try to stretch him out to be sure. :)

Anonymous said...

OOOooooooh! Pretty snake! What great shots you got too!

Rat snakes are fairly mellow, IME. So are their close relatives, corn snakes (which are also "rat snakes") -- my first snake was a gorgeous corn snake, approximately the color of the wild ones by the Georgia-Florida border.

I have a ball python now; he's even more laid-back, kinda ol'-hound-dog in affect, so I call him Shep. The nice thing about constrictors is that they're cuddly.

blue2go said...

Such cool pictures! And I love your attitude, too, live and let live--not--kill it, it's a snake! We had Ruone (sp?) ducks when I was a kid that looked exactly like wild Mallards. They weren't good mothers so my Dad put the eggs under a hen to hatch more ducks. The poor hen didn't know what to do with her strange babies but was a good mom to them!
My mother used the duck eggs for baking, she said they were the best!

Elena said...

Your post reminds me of The Crows of Pearblossom by Aldous Huxley. It was one of my favorite children's books growing up.
Thank you so much for the beautiful photos. I love your blog.

Rurality said...

Thanks Ron! He is pretty... I just wish we weren't seeing quite so much of him. Cuddly, huh? I don't guess I've ever cuddled a snake! :)

Blue2go, I've seen pictures of the Rouens (or however you spell it!) - they really seem like heavy birds. We've only had one broody hen this spring, which surprised me a little. I thought there would be several. I'd heard that before about the duck eggs being good for baking. I think it's because they are less watery. One of hubby's friends is married to a woman from the Philipines. She says a lot of her recipes call for duck eggs, so I guess we'll start saving some for her.

Thanks Elena, somehow I have managed to miss that one. I googled it though, and it looks very interesting.

Ed said...

How on earth did you do that, Karen? That's really wonderful work. Did I ever ask you what gear you use?

Weary Hag said...

WOWSER! Excellent post and incredible pics!
I'm here via Hick's post and I'm glad I stopped by. I'm slow to return sometimes because of all the blogs I visit daily, but you'll see me back again for sure.
Those are some amazing snake pics.

(city-slicker here - lovin the country-style posts)

Rurality said...

Thanks Ed & WearyHag.

Ed it's a Sony Mavica CD1000. I yearn for more pixels, but they're not in the budget just yet.

AidansDad said...

The Crows of PearBlossom. I have been looking for this book title for over 10 years. Thank you for taking pictures of the snake and egg, Thank you to google and thank you Elena for posting to the blog

gtm said...

I've been feeding an Aodaisho (Japanese Rat Snake) quail eggs. Since they sell these at supermarkets here it is a lot easier than frozen mice.
These snakes are all over the place here in Kamakura.

So if you want a snake that eats eggs, you don't need an exotic African species, your local rat snake will probably do quite well on small bird's eggs.