Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Snake Called "Hiss"

Hiss became part of our family 2 times this past summer. The first time we found him was during a tee ball game. I should have been watching the game, but I slipped away for a couple innings to the nearby woods and flipped some boards and rocks (I can't resist). When I flipped the rock that Hiss was under, it sounded like someone started letting the air out of a tire. He was a real windbag. He had a cool personality. After hissing loudly, he would then snuggle up against your warm skin. The kids loved him. I brought Hiss home because construction was closing in on all 4 sides of his habitat and I figured my relocation would be friendlier than what would happen when someone else found him (Note: a 6.5 foot snake skin was found near some construction discard. This was probably from Hiss's mama). Even though gopher snakes are very common in Utah, every kid within miles of our home came to see the snake that hissed. After a while and for no apparent reason, Hiss quit eating. I tried a lot of tactics to get him to eat, but he wouldn't. I realized that it was time to return him to the wild, but on the day that I went to release him in a good spot I couldn't find him anywhere. The clamps were on the cage properly, but somehow he had squeezed out of the small corner crack or something. After a couple months went by, we had forgotten about Hiss. Then my mother-in-law came over one day and found him on our front porch. He was a little bigger, so he had been eating something. He also had a recent flesh wound on his back that looked like chew marks. This wound was probably from a mama mouse defending her babies. Finding him again was cool, but we still had to find him a home. We let him go on an outing in a perfect spot that was a long way away from roads. I flipped some rocks and found a mouse nest under one. That was the perfect new home for Hiss. Most of the pictures were taken on the day we released him. We wish him well and maybe we will see him again. Perhaps there will be another Hiss post next summer. (Note: Hiss is a Gopher Snake and his pattern of light and dark rectangles is typical of the countless Gopher Snakes around here)

Should've Hibernated

Finding herps in Utah in late September or into October is usually tough, but with the temps and absence of snow in the valley the herps are still active. Unfortunately for the Gopher Snake pictured, the long nap should have come sooner, or if I could have crossed his path first I could have escorted him off the road. My sister in Tallahassee told me the other day when I called that she has about 15 green Tree Frogs on her window and that she has witnessed an Oak Snake climbing the trim to catch them. If I can get her to catch that on camera, it will definitely show up on this blog. As for the snake hunts, I might be down to the last few of the season around here. At least I have my pet snakes to observe, hold, etc.