Friday, April 28, 2006

Distracted Driving



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I stop for snakes in the road whenever my schedule allows. This means morning road snakes are immune to my catching or shooing them off the road as I am always hurtling towards work at the last minute and need the job too much to get fired over my linear friends.

On the way home, or on weekends...well, that is a different story. So, a few evenings ago I was driving home from a trip to town and I spotted this beautiful ratsnake soaking up the last heat of the day from the asphalt road. He didn't move as I slowed to a stop and I knew he would not last long, stretched out in the middle of the road like that.

Had I been farther from home, I might have just ushered him off the road to safety, but he was less than a mile from my house, and I like having ratsnakes around the place.

Since we were both so close to sanctuary, I grabbed him and slid back in the Jeep. He wrapped conveniently around my hand. I had nothing to put him in, but it wasn't far so I held him in my left hand while I steered and shifted gears with the right. (Note to self: remember to toss pillow case in Jeep for this kind of stuff).

At my driveway, I passed my neighbor going home also. He waved, I waved my snake. His eyes got big...his hand stopped in mid-wave.




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At the house, I took the snake, still wrapped around my hand, over to a wild grape vine and let him crawl onto it. This totally wild snake gently unwound from my fingers and flowed up the vine. Never once did he attempt to bite me.

Even if snakes aren't your thing, you have to admit it is pretty amazing the way these ratsnakes can climb using only their abs and a set of belly scales.

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After he had unwound from my arm, I walked towards the house, stopped, and looked back. He was there, but so nicely camouflaged that if I didn't have prior knowledge of his location, I don't think I would have noticed him on that vine.

When I got in the house, I told my wife about bringing another snake home to the place.

I just never get tired of watching her roll her eyes as she shakes her head...

19 comments:

Laura said...

I just had to laugh. My hub does the exact same thing! I can't count the number of times he'll pull over to the side of the road to pick up a snake and either take him home or move him to a new location.

When winter is over up in North Fla, it was common to see sluggish snakes sort of waking up from hibernation. Our dogs ran over a friggin rattle snake on our land up there; they were very, very lucky that he was so cold from the night before that he didn't strike out at them.

Just thought I'd add that hub once entered a golf tournament with a group of guys from work. He's not real into golf, however. I guess I wasn't surprised when he called the kids on the way home and told them that he was bringing home a "surprise", which was a ratsnake that he'd caught and put it into his golf bag!

Like your wife, I just have to roll my eyes and shake my head sometimes.
Hope the lil guy comes back to pay you a visit!

Wayne said...

yeah yeah yeah!!! And what a beautiful animal he is too. I love encountering snakes. For about five consecutive years I could count on seeing in the late spring a black morph kingsnake that would cross our driveway back and forth. I could tell it was the same one every year because of a nasty scar he had. Every year I'd find him and pick him up and enjoy the cuddling for a few minutes and then release him.

Last spring I found him (I'm pretty sure it was him), squashed by a car and apparently thrown into the bushes by the side of the road.

pablo said...

I'll stop for snakes and let them pass, though I won't collect and fondle them. I'm not particularly afeared of them, I just usually have something else to do. However, the last little bit of road to Roundrock is through a meadow, and the grasses are trying to reclaim this road. Thus I am often driving through tall grass for several hundred feet in or out of our woods. Usually it is a smooth ride (there is a gravel road underneath all of that grass), but sometimes I bump over something and hear a crunch. I fear it is a turtle or snake, though I don't stop to find out. I'd be too sad.

roger said...

let's hear it for the snake patrol! as part of the group (humans) who build such dangerous attractions (roads) for snakes, i feel an obligation to move them (the snakes) off the roads when i can. i have been known to move dead animals off to the bushes to grant them a more dignified place of death.

thingfish23 said...

Have you read, Fc, about the numbers of people who will swerve their vehicles in order to hit a snake in the road? I remember when I was a kid, I read a story about that. Some crew put a rubber snake in the road, then counted the number of cars that actually tried to hit the damned thing. It was astronomical, mind blowing, and sad.

Not long after, I was in my neighborhood and saw a garbage truck driver stop his truck, get out, capture a hognosed snake that he saw (I hadn't spotted it yet), put the snake under the wheel of his truck, and crush it on purpose.

What an ass.

Hick said...

I have to say that I was rolling my eyes and shaking my head as I read your post. I'm not a big snake fan (I wouldn't touch one willingly) and I am afraid of the rattlers that we have around here, but I am impressed with the size of some of our good King Snakes and I'm very impressed with the speed of the racers (I'm not sure of their technical names.)

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Great photo story! I love that you stop to pick up snakes. I think I would too, if I ever had the opportunity.

When I rode my bike to and from work in California, it meant riding through a fantastically long and winding meadow, often traversed by reckless, death-defying ground squirrels. It was easy to avoid them on the uphill ride, but on the downhill ride they would wait on the side of the bike path and dart out just in time to make us riders very uncomfortable. One day, I was zooming down the hill (dpr used to take the hill at 40 mph!) I felt my tires ride over something, and turned around to see a squirrel in the middle of the bikepath. I told myself that it had to have been hit before I ever arrived, and that I had nothing to do with its demise. I have always hoped and believed that that was true.

Thingfish's story is too sad and horrible for words.

Leslie said...

How does a pillow case help you drive and shift with one hand? I figure it's for gathering togehther various body parts after the horrible crash.

That's a beautiful snake. I've known people that would kill any snake they saw, regardless of what kind it was. Ignorance infuriates and saddens me.

threecollie said...

Great snake pictures! The kids and I like snakes too and enjoy the milk snakes, ring necks and garters that are common here (although the rattlers can stay on the other side of the river).

And that was a typo in my other comment. I know that it is stereo..really I do.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

What a coincidence, I got bit by a snake just around noon today...I startled it.
I was reading all of your comments and it's amazing how many of your followers love snakes...where are all these people? I seem to be the weirdo who picks up snakes around here for relocation to safer places. I don't know anyone who lives around here that will pickup and fondle a snake, but me.
Unfortunately, I have picked up copperheads & one timber rattler because I can't identify one snake from another...they all look nice to me.
I've only been bitten twice and apparently they weren't poisoness snakes.

ps. If it has a distinctive rattle on the end of its tail, and shakes it, I do leave those alone.

Tjilpi said...

By his colouring I take it that he is a non-venomous python, rather than a viper?

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

Now every time I wave to someone driving down the road (especially in Florida), I'm going to be looking for a snake wrapped around their arm.

Floridacracker said...

Laura,
I'm with your husband, if I was on a golf course (ha!) I'd be looking for snakes and frogs around the water hazards.

Wayne,
You can tell someone really likes snakes if they use the word cuddle in the same sentence as snake. Sorry about that kingsnake, at least you got to enjoy him for a while.

Hick,
I know you are not a snakeophile. I haven't figured out a way to signal "snake picture ahead" on this blog :)

DPR,
the warm road on the cool evening is murder on these guys. nice to know so many folks do help them out.

Thingfish,
Not surprised at all. That garbage man must have had a very smooth brain.

RD,
Accidents happen. I've run over my share of snakes through bad luck, bad timing, inattention by me and the snake... Makes the rescues all the more satisfying.
Be careful on those bikes wild thing.

Leslie,
You toss the snake in it and knot the top...snake can still breathe, but not climb up into the dashboard and die...another story.

Threecollie,
I only catch the nonpoisonous ones. Nothing to prove here, although the poisonous ones do get a shoo (with a long stick) off the road.

Abandoned,
If you're going to insist on getting bit, you need to get a good snake guide! Be careful gal.

Tjilpi,
Yes, more or less . He's a constrictor like pythons and their clan. Very docile...mostly and many of these are raised on snake farms as a popular reptile pet.

Hal,
Snake in the hand beats riding in a car with a gator attached to your knee...yes, been there done that too. Sheesh, I swear this is all true.

Buffy said...

*closes eyes*

I cant even look at the pictures.

Floridacracker said...

Buffy,
Hey I understand. I feel the same way about cauliflower.

Thanks for commenting! :)

swamp4me said...

Good man. But then, we already knew that...

Wayne said...

Cuddling snakes, and indeed I meant that!

A docile snake is wonderful to hold in your hands. We don't have to be overly sentimental here - they don't care who you are, they only have reptilian brains. But they love your heat and if they don't feel threatened they'll be perfectly content to bask in the grasp of a friendly mammalian.

And how nice it is. The feel of a snake's dry, soothing skin combined with the working musculature of a body that is completely dissimilar to ours is without equal.

When I see a snake that I know to be not poisonous or high tempered, my first inclination is always to pick it up.

John Cowart said...

I have a ratsnake living in and around my toolshed.

I wonder why garden snakes won't run from a lawm mower? I've mulched two this spring already because I didn't see them till they were already cut up. I always move them aside if I do see them, but they just blend into the ground too well.

Any suggestions?

Floridacracker said...

Swampy,
Aww shucks maam...

Wayne,
I know what you mean. Don't expect affection, but they are still neat to hold.

John,
This time of year they may have had romance on their brain. It makes us less focused on other things...