Category Archives: reptiles

New Babies

On July 17th, my new babies arrived. There are four of them. These photos were taken three days later. Two of them are Cuckoo Maran (top left), the other two are Easter Eggers which are Ameraucanas crossed with just about any other breed which is why the chicks look different. Easter Eggers can produce eggs in a range of colors (one color per bird).  The one thing these two chicks have in common is that it appears they’ll have cheek tufts.  The chicks started out in the bathtub, but after two weeks, they were already showing some flight capabilities.

As planned at that point, we moved them out to the brooder in the garage. I had modified the brooder to give it a couple of windows so the chicks could see outside when the garage door was open. We were admiring the little girls when Sara (good friend and chicken fan) noticed a visitor outside the garage door.

 

The rat snake was moving by, so I attempted to encourage it. Unfortunately, instead of fleeing away, it turned and fled for the garage. Of course I couldn’t leave it in there with the baby chickens, so I put on my gloves and tried to pull it out from between two bags of concrete. You might be surprised at how much strength a constrictor can bring to bear if it doesn’t want to be moved. Sara had to move one of the concrete bags to break it’s hold. You’ll be happy to know that no snake, chicken or human was hurt in the incident. I released the snake a couple of hundred yards from the house, then proceeded to pile heavy weights on the lid of the brooder

So far, we’ve had no further snake sightings near the brooder and the chicks are getting more and more bold. Four more weeks, and they’ll be joining the big girls in the coop.

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Hazards

D’Argo alerted me to a problem today and quick action averted a fatality. I had apparently lost track of some garden netting and it had blown into the corner of the porch among some fallen leaves, camouflaging it. D’Argo was fussing about something, and after staring in the same direction for a while I realized I was looking at two snakes thrashing about in the netting. After double checking my initial identification (it’s a new snake for Windhaven), I picked up the netting. When I did, the smaller of the two snakes slid out safely and slithered off into the shrubbery. The second snake was much bigger and was entangled in the netting. Sadly, I believe they were mating and I interrupted their nuptials. However, with Peter’s assistance cutting the netting, the Eastern Hognose Snake (notice the upturned nose) was extricated unharmed .

I released it just outside the gate (I didn’t have any shoes on) and when I returned to move it, it flipped over into the classic Hognose “possum act”. It was less than convincing since I saw the snake go into this pose and that it decided to close its mouth as an afterthought.

I moved the snake to a safer location and it tried to play possum again, this time twisting its jaw for a truly demented look. Would you mess with that?

Surprise!

With temperatures soaring above one hundred every day, we’ve been walking the dogs after dark. By then the temperatures have dropped into the mid-nineties. The disadvantage of course is that wildlife, that had been hiding during the scorching weather, come out to hunt. This evening we surprised this pretty snake on our front porch. I was equally surprised to find it was a Western Pygmy Rattlesnake. You can see quite clearly that not all rattlesnakes have a rattle. This one was still young, between six and eight inches. I managed to snap off a few shots before it made a rapid side winding slither under the holly shrub.

Windhaven Wildlife

Now that the cooler weather has arrived, I’ve been getting some of the gardens under control. Unfortunately,this also means displaced wildlife. While weeding the melon patch, I came across a snake, but couldn’t get a good look. A couple of days later, when I was mowing, I rescued this beauty from in front of the mower. I’m pretty sure it’s the same snake from the melon patch, and it challenged my identification skills. I finally eliminated all but a juvenile yellowbelly racer (not illustrated in my reptile guide, and therein lay the challenge). He was a lovely and surprisingly calm snake, but happy to be let go again, into some safer vegetation. Mowing can result in quite a few tragedies (frogs, hidden in the grass, have occasionally leapt into the blades), I’m glad this one was averted.

I’ve posted a picture of the Green Lynx Spider before, but this one was a particularly lovely specimen, replete with eggs. I displaced her from the wildly overgrown mint patch, so I placed her among the potted plants. She is on my Meyers lemon tree in this picture, but later moved to the blueberries.

I had to clear out the cucumber plants from the back garden, so I can refurbish the bed. That exposed several chrysalises attached to the plants and cage. Apparently, the Black Swallowtail caterpillars, having fed on my bronze fennel, decided that the cucumber plants would be a great place to metamorphose. The squash bugs had different plans, and had nearly killed the plants, exposing the chrysalises. I moved a couple of pupae to the shade of a rosemary bush, but the one on the cage had to stay as is.

I’ve been digging a trench around the back garden to install a weed/gopher barrier, and as sure as the sky is blue, the next morning I found wildlife in the trench. Of course the gophers had tried their best to fill in the trench, but I also found this perfectly camouflaged toad, hunting trapped insects.

This little creature, a lovely praying mantis, blending in to the concrete background, was checking out my construction material. It stood there, swaying slightly doing it’s best “I am a dead leaf” pose, while I set the camera in front of it on the wood. I love my little digital camera. This shot would have been much more awkward if I’d had to actually look though a viewfinder.