Monday, May 12, 2008

Snaeggke

He was at my feet when I first noticed him.
Deja vu all over again.

The huge grey ratsnake was stretched out beneath the pen of Miss FluffyFoot, the featherfooted hen who lives alone due to her inability to hold her own with the other banties. I knew what he was after ... she had two eggs in her pen and he could smell them.

Miss FluffyFoot never sits on her eggs, so I grabbed one and crouched down to offer it to the big snake. He sniffed it, but I think my scent threw him off, as he pulled away slowly and began to climb up to the chicken pen.


He moved smoothly up the post supporting Miss FluffyFoot's pen ...


... and flowed silently into the interior.





Miss FluffyFoot tried her intimidating stare on him, but ... she's pretty silly looking with those feathered feet and frankly, she's just not good at intimidating anyone.

The snake ignored her, tongue flicking as he homed in on an egg.


There were some frustrating moments for the snake as the egg would roll away each time he attempted to grab it.

He was very persistent though.


Finally, he pinned it against the chicken waterer and gained some purchase on the egg.



Then, he demonstrated the wonder of snake jaw mechanics.


What is this equivalent to ... swallowing a watermelon whole?
He made it look pretty easy and actually ate both eggs while I watched and shot photo after photo.


He's over the hump now.


At this point, I reached out and gently tugged the hay out of his mouth. He didn't seem to mind one bit.

One egg down, one to go.


He worked the egg just a little farther back and then coiled on himself to crush it.


You could clearly hear the eggshell collapse through his scaly skin. He rested only a moment, and then slid over to the second egg, tongue flicking gently against the shell.


It was about then that I heard sweet daughter Emma call to me from the house.

"Dad?"


"Back here honey."


"I'm getting ready to go and ..."


"Come back here, come see what I've found ..." I interrupted.


She walked back to where I was, her eyes got big, and together we watched in amazement as this big, wild, wonderful animal did it all over again.
Another fine Father/Daughter moment and one I know she will never forget.
Definitely worth the price of admission.

35 comments:

Smilin-buddha said...

There is another snake. Called the Egg eater. Its eats the egg whole. Crushes it internally and that spits out the shell. Awesome picture. I wish I had close to that amount of nature in my yard. Great shots. Thanks

tai haku said...

Those are some sweet pictures FC. That's a really nicely patterned grey rat too with those nice clear chainlink patterns.

threecollie said...

Absolutely amazing photographs. I can't imagine how you will ever top them. I am most thankful to Miss Sara that you got to take them.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Agggh! I love this!

He's gonna have to crush those eggs if he's to get back out through chicken wire. The chicken faceoff shot is priceless.

Doug Taron said...

What an amazing sequence of photos. It's a gorgeous snake. I really like the action shots of the snake eating.

David said...

Now that's an impressive post! Well done and thanks! How long did you end up following the snake? It gives the impression of a very slow process.

JG said...

What an amazing series of photos...thanks for sharing these

robin andrea said...

A fantastic set of photos, fc. What great timing.

Laura said...

Whoa, can't wait to show these to Rick! Excellent close-ups, too.

And how did he get back out of the cage again? :)

freste2715 said...

You gotta be fregging kidding me. Wow! You serpently have an amazing experience to boas about. I can't imagine anything remotely exciting on any scalation in the West. S/he had some nice scrambled eggs for breakfast. What about bacon and coffee? Fangs for such a great morning, FC. Anaconda tell all my coworkers to visit this site!

island timer said...

FANTASTIC!!!

I've been admiring your work here in blogger land for weeks.

Ceratinly enjoying them all.

Cheers!

Jen said...

Incredible! Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing. But I'm glad it didn't happen in my backyard. I'd rather appreciate this one from afar. Snakes still give me the willies even if I do know they're not after me.

Dan said...

Holy moly, what great photos!

thingfish23 said...

I am SO jealous. We STILL only have black racrs and ring-necks around - at least that I've seen. If we had more rat snakes, we'd have less RATS around the coop. I had to resort to traps. Poison was not an option.

I believe it was Rurality that posted about this phenomenon a while back as well. I was jealous then, and I'm jealous now.

I did find a very nice scorpion at work today, though, and may have even saved it from the exterminator poisons. It's still pretty lively after a thorough rinse.

Kimberlee said...

Wow! You weren't kidding when you promised "one of the coolest critter encounters ever!" I am SO IMPRESSED that you were able to capture the whole process without frightening the snake. Amazing!

We're starting summer school today and I'll HAVE to show this to my kids...they'll go nuts!

Anonymous said...

Another amazing lesson and phtos to match. Very interesting. It would appear this snakes is fairly...abiable?
momadness

Anonymous said...

Well, it appears my typing is off today. I meant photos, snake and amiable. Mondays. Sheesh.
momadness

ldybug said...

Unreal! I'm starting to think you sit outside with a camera all day and wait for these things to happen.

Leslie said...

Spectacular! I knew snakes ate eggs, and I've seen snakes eat some surprisingly large things, but I *didn't* know they could coil back on the (swallowed) egg and crush it. WAY cool.

Floridacracker said...

SmilinB,
I thought you might like a good snake series!

Tai,
Greys seem to outnumber reds around here. This one seems so completely at ease around us.

3C,
It may take something involving a shark or gator to top this cool critter ;)

Julie,
It was so cool to watch and the snake just acted like I wasn't there.

Doug,
I edited out a bunch. I took so many shots that it's like a flip book movie if I include them all.


David,
I just crouched down in the doorway of the pen. The time seemed to fly. Once he was occupied, I put the camera on macro and put it right in his face for these shots.


JG,
You are welcome, but I could not wait to share them!


Robin,
Pure serendipity ... well, almost. I do keep my camera with me, but the part where I show up just as the hungry snake does is serendipitous.

Laura,
A few moments later that last bulge was gone as he crunched the egg.
Hope Rick enjoys them.

Freste,
LOL! You are the punmaster, but I suppose you have herp that before.
;)


Island Timer,
Glad you commented! Welcome.

Jen,
I understand. I'm just glad you appreciate snakes even if they give you the willies. That's how I am about spiders.


Dan,
That sounds good. Welcome.

ThingFish,
You have a big heart rescuing a scorpion.I hope the patient makes it.
As long as it's native :)

Kimberlee,
I'd love PF photos to be used in that way. Hope your kids enjoy. If they have any FL photo requests, let me know and I'll try to get a post up just for them. If you think they'd like that.

Momadness,
My Monday was pretty decent today, but I sure can relate to the typing/misbehaving fingers problem.
:)

Idybug,
No, my schedule doesn't allow that ... dang it.
I do keep my camera close and the rest is just being there I guess. This whole incident only took about 20 minutes and I just stumbled upon it.

Leslie,
It was the only quick move in the whole process. Just a few loops thrown over the egg section and crunch!

nina said...

I've watched snakes climb for birds' nest eggs, but never ones so LARGE! You've done a great job documenting this--what's next?

Cathy S. said...

Way cool! FYI, my mother in law was born and raised in Two Egg.

Floridacracker said...

Nina,
Thanks! Welcome to Pure Florida! I'm not sure how I'm going to top this little gift of serendipity!

Cathy S,
No way!
I couldn't resist that linkage.

Susan said...

I like how Miss Fluffy-foot is looking so totally chickenish (dumb and dumber) while the snake eats her potential offspring.

I suppose some animals have to be stupid to keep the food chain in motion.

GREAT PHOTOS!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Keep an eye on Ms. Fluffy foot. A large rat snake finished my Dad's hen off. She was sitting on a nest full of eggs. He went to check on her and she was dead. He thinks the snake constricted her? And took the eggs or all he could stuff down. What do you think? I've seen them squeeze baby rabbits?

crackercowlady said...

Great post, FC! I look forward to each of your posts, and have even included your blog on my website (www.crackercow.com) so others can enjoy your wonderful encounters with nature. But this one was fantastic. (The closest I ever got to viewing this kind of adventure in nature was in Panama when a wild boa caught a "slow crow".) Unbelievable! another time, a vine snake actually caught a hummingbird. Talk about fast! thanks for sharing shots most of us will never get to experience! Barb

Sharon said...

Wow, that is one huge snake. I have always been amazed to see a snake swallow an egg like that. Pretty cool :)

Larry said...

Aw, FC, you've outdone yourself! What a wonderful photo-sequence!

I've always heard of snakes eating eggs, but to actually see the process!

This is just Good Stuff, and those who look down upon bloggers as journalistic Second-Class Citizens need to see this post.

SophieMae said...

DAWG! Amazingly splendiferous... Hard to come up with worthy superlatives. Yep, outdone yourownself, fur shur.

Love the frame games title! I always start my Sunday paper foraging with those.

And the tip of the penly hat to Two Egg... possibly my favourite Flarda tiny town... if only someone would reopen the store... my last Two Egg tee is threadbare. *sigh*

Rurality said...

I should probably warn you that the snake that did this at our place ended up with a chicken halfway down its throat the next time we saw him. No way could he have really swallowed it... I don't think... but he sure did kill it.

SwampAngel65 said...

WOW! That was just too cool! Great, GREAT pics!!! You DO realize how lucky you are to live where you do, don't you?

Of course you do...

I am so jealous.

Thunder Dave said...

Excellent series of shots! That's textbook worthy stuff there!

Floridacracker said...

Susan,
LOL! Chickens definitely are NOT geniuses.

Anon,
It seems very possible. I've found big ratsnakes in the hen pens before, but have never had any hen deaths from them.

Barb,
Thanks! Pretty amazing to think of anything catching a hummer.

Sharon,
He's a good 5 feet.

Larry,
Thank you.
Somebody looks down on us?
The nerve.
A million independent William Randolph Hearsts are out there keeping it real and knitting the world together with their blogs.
Pretty amazing times.

Sophie,
My students love those word puzzles as little warm ups. I always cheat and look at the answer first so I APPEAR smarter than they are :)
Glad you enjoyed the series!


Rurality,
I have no doubt this snake could take a chicken, not eat it, but definitely constrict it.


Swampangel,
I do, I really do.
It's actually a big responsibility.
I don't want to do anything to mess it up.

ThunderD,
Glad to see you are okay.

Kimberlee said...

Just wanted to let you know that your egg-eating snake has officially WOWed kids approximately 300 miles above the Arctic Circle! When you consider that they contend with foxes, wolverines, and bears...that's quite an accomplishment.

I like your idea that bloggers are "knitting the world together with their blogs." That's exactly right. And this post illustrates that perfectly!

Floridacracker said...

Kimberlee,
You just made my day!
Now I'm off to MY classroom ... with my snake pictures!