Monday, December 3, 2012

Cold weather sightings

When fall arrives we herp loving individuals know that snake sightings will begin to be few and far between. The best we can hope for is the occasional warm day and rare sightings of some of the hardier snakes, like garter snakes. November 17 brought such a day, the temperature warmed to 73 degrees, the sun was out and the garter snakes were basking.

I drove to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge with some friends and our trip proved productive for snakes, with a grand total of two garter snakes spotted on the 10 mile auto tour. This might not sound like much, but for Missouri this is great. Typically in November it is 30 degrees with no hope of spotting a snake.

My young friend Gage absolutely loves snakes and can't resist an opportunity to look for them just like me. I am always happy to have him join me on outings as his enthusiasm is contagious.

This was the largest of the two snakes we found and Gage jumped out the car to capture it and get it off the road to safety. The snake thanked both of us, first by musking Gage, then biting me. We both laughed at the feisty nature of the snake and then let it go in the grasses next to the road.

We drove on and found a small juvenile basking in the road. It was barely 8 inches in length and quite calm, which is highly unusual for garter snakes. We carefully moved it to safety.

So while I dread cold weather and the lack of snakes available to find for the next 5 months, I will take satisfaction in the rare warm day and the anticipation of a spotting. I will also use this time to read and learn more about the herps I love.

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