The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Baby snakes in the straw

Snake in the straw

We made a mistake this year and left our straw cache out at the parking area under a tarp.  It's been so wet that there was no easy time to haul the bales in, so we figured we'd just get them as we needed them.  Unfortunately, the wind blew the tarp back and got most of the bales damp, so they're now extremely difficult to haul (even though Mark's still carrying through with the endeavor).

On the plus side, those slightly-decomposing bales seem to have provided the perfect habitat for baby black rat snakes.  Mark found some eggs between two bales in September, and thrust them further into the pile since he didn't know what else to do with them.  The eggs must have hatched in the interim, because two little snakes turned up in the straw Thursday.  Kayla isn't a fan of snakes, and wasn't terribly thrilled to have her mulching job include snake patrol, but I think even she could tell that these guys are too cute to really be afraid of.

Baby black rat snake

Actually, I thought, at first, that this was an entirely new species for our farm, until Kayla keyed the snake out in my field guide and discovered that baby rat snakes look nothing like adults.  Who would have thought this prettily-patterned snake is going to be solid black above by the time it gets two feet long?

(By the way, Kayla, you guessed right --- these guys did just hatch.  Newly-hatched black rat snakes are twelve inches long.  Hard to imagine all that length folded up into a two-inch egg!)

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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At the Nature Center we have a juvenile black rat snake. I named him Climber because they spend a lot of time in trees, also because the Cherokee word for that species is translated as The Climber. He is seriously one of the friendliest snakes I've ever held, including my sisters pet pythons. Tell Kayla that when my grandmother was growing up in the Smokies, seeing black rat snakes was good luck, they eat rodents and aren't aggressive. Climber has nearly lost his spots, I feel like I've seen some baby pictures of a close friend! I think the only snake species I like better than Black rat snakes are the tiny northern Brown. SO. ADORABLE.
Comment by Emily from Bristol Fri Oct 4 08:49:18 2013

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