...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


slithering at the pond

I was hauling a bale of barley straw over to the pond, 
(because I read that it prevents algae growth...)
and stumbled upon some northern water snakes mating.

As someone who is generally quite squeamish of snakes,
imagine my shrieks of unpleasant surprise
when I stumbled upon this...
I dropped the bale I was hauling and I hauled myself straight back into the house!

Then I calmed down.
And I got the camera.

And I decided that from a distance, it was quite fascinating.

In my little bit of research I learned that
Northern water snakes
 nerodia sipedon
are non-poisonous and native to North America.  

They can be up to 4-5' long.
They are quick to flee from any perceived danger,
but very defensive, and they will bite.

They feed on minnows and worms and frogs 
and crayfish and salamanders and small turtles
and even mice.

They get eaten by foxes, raccoons, opossum, skunks,
snapping turtles, large birds, bullfrogs, and other snakes ...

All of this mating made me wonder about the birth process for this type of snake...
Each female can bear a whole lot of baby snakes - some sources say up to 100,
more conservative sites say up to 30... 
When they're born they're about 7"-9" long.
They fend for themselves from birth.

I can't really deal with the thought of having hundreds of snakes in our little pond.
That just seems crazy...   they can't all possibly coexist.  
Maybe some move on to other areas, and some get eaten by predators.

But most sites say that snakes are a good sign in your pond 
and that you should let them be...
They're part of the ecosystem, 
an essential link that keeps everything in check.

Last summer I injured a frog with the lawn mower.
I was so upset, I didn't know what to do for the frog,
I thought maybe I should kill it 
because it might be in awful pain and there was almost no chance it would survive... 
While I was trying to decide what to do,
the water snake wasted no time,
maybe it sensed the frog's injury or smelled it's blood.
It slithered right up through the water lilies and
swallowed the injured frog whole within a few gulps.

Somehow brutal and merciful at once.

Nature is a wild thing.

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