Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gray Rat Snake

Saturday I came in the gate to go in the downstairs back door and this is what was waiting for me, stretched out in front of the back door.

It was huge, about 4 feet long and I don't know my snakes that well and seeing dark blotches on it I thought it could be a copperhead. I screamed for JD who also thought it could be a copperhead. So I stood at the top of the retaining wall to watch it while he went in and checked the internet. We determined that it had round pupils and was thus not a poisonous snake and was in fact a gray rat snake. So we decided to live and let live and just watched it crawl back under the dog house where it has probably been living all year and is probably hatching babies right now. The fact is we have a LOT of mice and rats around here. Our two cats do a wonderful job of catching them but I guess they could always use some help. One of my chores every morning is to go out and shovel the dead rodents off the steps and out of the yard. Always several mice and sometimes rats, rats the size of squirrels. I think they're catching them in the bushes across the street; they couldn't possibly be living in the yard.

That was really gross, who admits to having rats?

The thing about the snake though; I THINK HE WAS TRYING TO GET IN THE HOUSE. Rat snakes will do that. They're often found in the rafters of barns and my sister found an enormous black one in her kitchen cabinets one day. They ended up tearing the cabinets out to get to him.

So he's still out there and now I am very very cautious when I open the back door.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Notes From the Front Yard

photo from Editor B, Flickr

I wasn't fast enough to get my own photo but I saw one of these yesterday in a flower container in the yard. I thought it was an earthworm until I saw its head. I went inside and googled it and found out it is a hammerhead worm, a type of planerian. It doesn't eat plants but one variety does eat earthworms and is capable of decimating an earthworm population. The one I saw was about 4 inches long but they can grow up to 10 inches. Thought to originate in Malaysia they are now spreading around the world, probably in imported potted plants. If you see one don't kill it by chopping it up; every piece will turn into another worm. Here's more information on Dave's Garden; you can see in the forum that 2009 is the first year they are reported in Alabama.

And here's one of the few plants that is happy in my yard - an evergreen wisteria I planted last year. It's not really evergreen in this zone but it did come back. This wisteria is not invasive at all and easily contained.

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