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Friday, May 26, 2017

Violet Sees a Snake

Written by  Dr. Tony Calo
A friendly, helpful Rat Snake A friendly, helpful Rat Snake

Connor loves yard work and gardening. He spends most of his free time digging, planting, trimming, watering, fertilizing. He has built beautiful stone walls in several locations throughout our property. He has supplied the yard with trees, bird houses, and native plants to encourage birds and butterflies to visit us. He has made the yard as inviting as possible to the wild creatures that live in our neighborhood.

Because he is outside so often, Violet, Daisy, and Henry get to spend a large amount of time outside as well. They are his trusty companions in the yard. He watches over them and they watch over him. Connor’s love of being outside is very advantageous to our dogs. In other words, he has made the yard just as inviting to our non-wild creatures as he has for the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. Even in our little yard in Baltimore, Connor has created a wonderful environment that is full of beauty and adventure.

One such adventure occurred this weekend. Connor was diligently working on moving daffodil bulbs (he has a penchant for not leaving the plants in one spot for too long), when he realized that little Violet was overly attentive to one row of hedges next to our driveway. At first, he didn’t think much of it. Violet can find something as simple as a rock or a stick interesting and it is not unusual for her to stare. After a few minutes though, the other dogs were just as interested in that spot. Connor went to investigate. He moved the dogs away and took a look for himself. When he saw the object of Violet’s attention, he let out a cute but loud gasp. It was loud enough that it drew me out of the house and over to him and the dogs. What we were all looking at was a very still and very large black snake. It was in curled position and was doing his (or her) best to not be noticed. Not being noticed, however, is very difficult with Violet around. We watched the snake for a while and as quietly as possible, we even took a few pictures of it. Connor likes to catalog all of the wildlife he finds in our yard. Once we were satisfied that he was not going to bother us, we took the dogs to another part of the yard to give the snake the peace to continue resting or slither away or to do whatever snakes like to do in Baltimore.

Later that evening, Connor and I took to Google to learn more about our legless visitor. Based on our pictures, we identified the snake as a Black Rat Snake. If we want to be fancy, we could call the snake by its scientific name Elaphe obsoleta (or Pantherophis obsoletus if you’re really fancy) but I am not even sure how to pronounce it. The rat snake is one of the largest of the native Maryland snakes. It can grow up to 80 inches in length. Our snake friend in our yard was easily five feet long. These snakes are generally considered to be non-aggressive and if left alone, they will leave you alone. These snakes are very good at helping keep the local rat and rodent population in check which is one reason that we hope our snake friend sticks around. Connor plans to build a pile of sawdust and rotten logs in hopes a rat snake might lay eggs there, and perhaps we will have future generations of neighborhood snakes. If that happens, then Violet will have lots of little snake friends to sit and state at.

Please feel free to write Violet’s Vet with any pet questions– This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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