Thursday, January 26, 2012

Watersnake Rescue

The most incredible thing happened today. I got a phone call at work from a man who told me that his sister and her husband were clearing weeds and brush out of a ditch in front of their home. There was some water in the ditch at one end and they noticed  something under the ice. It looked snake-like. Upon closer inspection, it was indeed a SNAKE! It was suspended underneath two inches of ice and still alive!!! They broke the ice and tried to free the snake only to discover that its tail was encased in ice and it was stuck unable to move. So they continued to carefully chop ice until they managed to free the entire snake. They brought it inside so that it could gradually warm up. It began moving around. He was concerned about releasing it after everything it had been through only to die of exposure. So I assured him that if he brought it to me I would keep it until April. At 10:30 this morning he brought into my office. I was able to identify it as a Northern Watersnake, which is a very common and feisty snake in Missouri.

I was completely fascinated by this situation. A snake out in winter? A snake buried in ice and still alive? How long had it been there? How did it end up in this predicament? Will it ultimately succumb to death from the stress?

We figured the snake had to be under that ice for a minimum of 24 hours given the recent weather conditions. We've had unusual weather this winter, certainly not the typical cold that we generally have. Several days have topped out near 60 degrees and many more days in the 50's. Although the night time lows have been in the 20's or 30's for over a week now. How could this snake survive such extreme conditions? It must be a tribute to the hardiness of this species, or maybe this is a fluke.

I brought the snake home to photograph it. I took it out of the cloth bag I carried it home in and proceeded to show it to my daughter (who is used to me bringing all sorts of things home and shoving them in her face to see). The snake suddenly perked up and shot out of my hand onto the kitchen table and straight into my daughters lap! She shrieked, the snake hit the floor. I grabbed the snake up off the floor only to have it sling musk all over me and my daughter. She shrieked "MOM!!!!" and ran into the other room. I just shrugged and said "sorry." She started gagging at the smell, which made me laugh as I put the snake safely back into the cloth bag.
Never a dull moment around here!

If the snakes actions are anything to go by it should be fine and survive to be released. I am curious though if anyone else has found a snake in a similar situation.

1 comment:

  1. Here's another instance of a Northern Water Snake in midwinter ice: