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New Garden Denizens


Who's a handsome boy, then?

So I was bending over to pull some miner’s lettuce that had come up in the raspberry bed, and saw a strip of mulch that was brighter and more regular than I was used to, whereupon several neurons fired and I took a step back and told Kevin to put the beagle inside Right Now, as it was this very handsome fellow you see above—Agkistrodon contortrix, the copperhead.

Given the choice of having any poisonous snake in the yard, it would absolutely be the copperhead, a mild-mannered retiring snake who would very much prefer to issue warning bites or venomless “dry bites”  when stepped on or pestered than anything else. My biggest fear was that the beagle would harass the snake into biting, and I suppose it’s possible I’ll step on one someday, but I’m honestly more worried about accidentally putting my hand on an assassin bug. Kevin’s kids don’t go outside unless the indoors is actively on fire, so that’s not an issue either.

This is the first time I’ve seen one in the yard (and if the black snake catches sight of him, it’ll be the last time) so I don’t know if he’s just passing through, or far more likely, has been living here for years and I just happened to catch sight of him today and won’t see him again for another couple of years.

I realize that my attitude may strike some as ridiculously casual, but Dad A) kept snakes when I was a kid and B) lived in one of the most rattlesnake-heavy areas in North America, with the end result that I spent a fair amount of my childhood living in the vicinity of snakes and have no particular fear of them. Trying to kill snakes is generally how people get bit, the snake has probably been there all along and we’ve never come into contact, ergo if I leave the snake alone, odds are very good that everything will just keep on keepin’ on.

Besides, look at that face!

I'm too sexy for my scales...

(Photo taken with a very long zoom lens.)

The other newcomer in the garden is rather less exciting, but still nice to have in a hey-the-system-works! kind of fashion—Acilius mediatus, a predacious diving beetle, has found my pond! Its offpsring are called “water tigers” and eat insect larvae, and hopefully will keep the future mosquitoes under control.

So that was exciting!


Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

I would have freaked the hell out.

Yet another reason why Ursula is way cooler than me. <3

Very beautiful!

I'm respectful of snakes. They do many good things.

Bet you they would even let you take a picture of them. Oh wait! This one did. What a good snake.

I love how focused snakes look. You look at, say, an iguana and they're all, "Yep, I'm a lizard, life's good, I'm chillin'." Not for him the 'life goals' or 'planning for retirement' nonsense, your average lizard. But a snake is a reptile that's got ambition. He's going places, baby. If he had hands, he'd be carrying a little briefcase.

(Insert your own lawyer joke here.)

But that is a particularly handsome example of the species, I will say. Thanks for getting a picture so we could all admire him from a distance.

(Insert your own lawyer joke here.)

Actually, I was going to insert one of the attorney drones from the early days of the "Schlock Mercenary" webcomic. They do carry briefcases, with their tails.

My dad also raised snakes, but only non-venomous ones. I have to admit that poisonous ones send me for the shovel. Especially when the cat dragged a live one into the house.

OTOH, we had a very nice 3ft+ black snake in the yard on Saturday. Fast, too - no chance for a pic. Made me happy, though.


All I've got is basement cats in my garden.

My father used to say the rattlesnake was a gentleman, as he warned you that he felt he might have to bite you, the copperhead was too lazy to bite you unless you left him no choice, and the cotton-mouth was a hateful sonuvabitch who'd swim two creeks and cross a road if he thought he'd get to lay a fang on you. That's exaggerated--rattlesnakes will bite without warning, and a cottonmouth will not go to quite that much trouble just to bite someone. But there's still some truth in it.

He is a handsome fellow, all scaly and fallen-leaf colored.

I don't ever want to encounter a Mohave Rattler.

The Az Dept of Game and Fish has reptiles they present for education.

All of the snakes were ignoring everything around them, except the Mohave which was actively trying to get through the plexiglass and OUT. Scary reptile.

Very cool.

I'm much more afraid that my backyard water will attract one of the desert toads. Those'll kill my dogs very slowly and painfully. And what dog can resist?

Lovely specimen. A few years ago I had to relocate twelve babies from the backyard, from under a pile of pine straw. My son thought it was the coolest thing that not only did I catch them using a makeshift snakehook but I had a reptile bag to put them in. We took all of them down to the woods opened the bag and watched as the babies slithered out and off into the underbrush.

He looks about two or three years old. His scales are still rather small which is usually a good indication of his age. If you have a resident king snake then he is likely passing through.

Edited at 2011-04-26 12:30 am (UTC)

Never seen any king snakes, but we do have at least two of the big black rat snakes resident in the area, so I wouldn't be surprised if this is a strictly temporary visit.

my first instinct is also to back away slowly and quietly when i notice a poisonous snake nearby.and given the choice (despite thinking rats are also neat in their own ways) id rather have snakes near my house,then rats in the walls...

I have two, sitting right next to my monitor. I hope they aren't reading all these comments about feeding their kith to the copperheads. =;.;=

What lovely photos. Copperheads don't seem to come as far north as Ontario, but we have rattlers. They are becoming scarce thanks to things like hiking trails through territories such as the Niagara Escarpment, and the Bruce Trail.

Mississauga rattler is still down in the lower part of the Niagara Region.
do we have other kinds here in ON?

What a beauty. We're supposed to have those around here, but I've never seen one. We got a lot of black rat snakes though.

why hello thar! fancy seeing you here

Oh, lovely! <3 What a gorgeous snake!

I'd say your garden is doing very well to be attracting such distinguished guests. (:

I had a pet snake when I was a kid (probably 8 or 9) - a hogs head that my mom had brought home from school, so snakes are not a big deal to me.

That boy is absolutely gorgeous! Good at keeping mice at bay, too.



Was yours also extremely cranky? Or is that just a Precious thing?

I don't think I've ever seen a photo of a copperhead, and your photos are excellent! That is indeed a most handsome fellow.

I grew up in gartersnakeland, with a rather large hedgerow of lilacs in the property behind ours where they liked to slither. My cat had other intentions, as she felt they made excellent offerings to the humans in order to keep her food coming. Which would be fine and dandy except for small children (me and my brother, at the time) and a mother who is so afraid of snakes that flicking your tongue at her will give her nightmares for a week.

It was also the home of western diamondbacks and some handsomely large bull snakes, but I never encountered either myself, which is probably why I continued to run barefoot even through fallen leaves.

Now I have "Copperhead Road" stuck in my head. :(