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Field Collecting/Observing Sightings of herps in the wild, where-tos and how-tos, as well as photos of herps in their native environment.

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Old 08-05-2013, 09:55 PM   #1
Gray rat snake infestation

Saturday Connie comes into the den to tell me that there is a gray rat snake at one of the hummingbird feeders. She's all worried that he's going to snag one of the hummingbirds that we now have as dependents. So I go on out there, and sure enough, there he sits, looking hopeful that one of the little birds won't notice him hanging down looking like a twig. He didn't move much the whole time I was taking photos of him, probably thinking "Man, GO AWAY! I'm trying to get some lunch here!"

He apparently thought my hand was prey as he tagged me when I reached up to grab him, but as soon as I had him in my hands, he acted like nothing was wrong. He squirmed a little bit but didn't get very excitable about being handled. Didn't even musk me. So I walked him down to a section of our land near some bamboo where there was a pile of bush Connie and I had been clearing, and released him there.

So this morning I'm looking out the side door of the house at the same hummingbird feeder and I noticed what looked like a twig laying on the feeder. At first I thought a storm had just knocked a twig there, and I was thinking it was probably scaring off the hummingbirds thinking it was a snake. Hey, wait a minute! It WAS a snake. He was coiled up in the center depression of the feeder, and as best I can tell, it's the same one I caught and released two days ago.

How in the heck he figured out how to get back to the same exact spot is pretty baffling. It's not like it was a straight path to where I released him, and it's not even close, nor direct line of sight.

Anyway, one of the hummingbirds actually buzzed him, so I'm glad he didn't wind up a meal for the gray rat snake. But I rushed on out there before his luck would change and I'd have Connie screaming bloody murder.

So I grabbed him up again. He didn't even try to bite this time, so I guess he's gotten used to the routine pretty quickly. Took him back and released him but a little further away this time. He seemed to enjoy being carried, so I can see where this is going....

I expect he'll be back. We had another larger one a couple of years ago at one of the other feeders that I had to catch and release 5 or 6 times. I finally had to bag him up and drive him out into the forest to release him so he would stay gone for good.

And then when I was walking from the old reptile building to the house, I spotted ANOTHER gray rat snake laying around a wagon under the carport. This one is different looking, so it's not the pest having made his way back already. He was a little bit larger, too, and a but paler colored. He went and climbed up into another wagon with some of Connie's pineapple plants on it, so I left him be. No sense slicing my arms to ribbons trying to get him out of that stuff. I'm sure he'll turn up somewhere else soon enough.

So apparently we have a few gray rat snakes prowling around here. These two are approximately the same size, so I guess they are probably siblings. Too bad we don't have the mouse colony any longer or I'd toss them a meal for their troubles before sending them on their way.

But I do hope they don't snag one of "our" birds at the feeders. Connie would be REAL upset to find one with a big lump in him sitting in one of the feeders one morning.
Old 08-05-2013, 10:33 PM   #2
Mooing Tricycle
Clever little things colubrids are! They are always my favorite.
Old 08-07-2013, 03:22 PM   #3
Well, the gray rat snake found his way back and was hanging at the feeder again this morning. So Connie found an old snake bag over in the other building and we caught him and bagged him up. He didn't even flinch when I grabbed him, so apparently he's getting used to this routine. We then took a drive out to the edge of the national forest and sent him on his way. Hopefully he won't find his way back from there too. That's about three-quarters of a mile he'll have to traverse to find us again.
Old 08-07-2013, 03:28 PM   #4
I give him three days, tops.

Neat story though, and I'm sure your hummers appreciate the help.
Old 08-07-2013, 04:14 PM   #5
Yeah, just what we need. A gray rat snake named "Lassie".
Old 08-09-2013, 12:41 PM   #6
Saw another one, somewhat larger, on the other side of the house this morning. Near the other bird feeders we have over there that we can see from the bedroom window. He got underneath the porch before I could get out there to grab him. So got to keep an eye out for him as well. Not sure if this is the same one I saw under the carport several days ago, but he looked about the same size.
Old 08-09-2013, 01:00 PM   #7
You could restart the mouse colony, and feed them so they won't bother the hummingbirds. This is the age of equal treatment and no losers, after all - you can't feed one group, while allowing another to be hungry.
Old 08-09-2013, 01:17 PM   #8
Yeah, I hear that.... At least they are a nice politically neutral color.........
Old 08-09-2013, 02:24 PM   #9
Celtic Constrictors
That's really funny. I live on the outskirts of a large city and seldom see herps in the wild other than the occasional skink or two. When I was younger I would catch horned lizards, garter snakes, collared lizards, and so many other animals just in my back yard.

I can't wait to move back to the country. Your "problem" is one I wouldn't mind having. Rather deal with snakes and birds than people, if you catch my drift.
Old 08-09-2013, 05:24 PM   #10
Yeah, but when you live out among the wildlife, you find yourself compelled to have a hand in events, no matter how much you would rather not. Obviously I like snakes, but it's just something heartbreaking about seeing parent birds fluttering around all distressed and finding a snake coiled up in their nest with it's belly filled with the eggs or babies. Yeah, I KNOW it's just nature, but dang it, when the birds start building nests HERE around our house, it feels like they are OUR birds. We're not feeding the birds just to fatten them up for something to eat. The snakes can go eat someone else's birds.

Matter of fact Connie found a baby racer hanging out by the garage. Right near where "her" baby fence lizards are hanging out. So I've got another snake in a bag to run on out to the forest. We can't allow him to eat OUR lizards, now can we?

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