Friday, July 19, 2013

It's too darn hot and the best-laid plans...

Black rat snake
 My blogging plans don't always work out. I was all prepared today to complain about the extreme heat that's overbearing and brutal here on Roundtop Mountain.  I was going to complain about how awful the heat was yesterday during Adventure Camp--though the kids had a good time and caught oodles of crayfish.  I even took a hazy photo this morning in an attempt to show a bit of what so much heat looks like. But then this black rat snake turned up and my plans changed.

I found the above rat snake just a few feet onto the paved road.  It had likely been at or near the pond that was only about 20 feet behind it.  Probably it was returning to someplace relatively cool to sleep away the heat of the day after a night of doing whatever rat snakes do in miserably hot summer weather.

So there it was on an access road where traffic is not heavy but likely eventually.  The snake was about 4 feet long, not as thick around the middle as some I've seen.  I saw the last foot or so of one up at my cabin last week.  Perhaps it was the same one, but the area holds enough black snakes that it doesn't necessarily need to be, though that snake and this one were certainly about the same length. By the way, when I was a kid these were called just "black snakes" but the species is really a rat snake or commonly called a black rat snake.

This black snake had stopped on the road, stretched part way across it on a curve.  It's a good thing I stopped to take a photo of the haze or I might have accidentally driven over it.  That would have ruined my day for sure.  In any event, that didn't happen and the snake showed no immediate signs of removing itself from the road.  It was time to herd it to a safer spot.

First I had to find a stick of a certain length.  After all, it's a rather good-sized snake.  And though I live in the forest, when you are looking for a stick of a certain length, they never seem to be handy.  I found short sticks and entire branches close at hand but not what I was looking for. Eventually the stick was found, a branch really, with many side twigs and of a not-very-straight shape, but it would have to do.

Now black rat snakes can be a touch, well, touchy.  They aren't shy about holding their ground, and they always seem a bit grumpy, sort of like me before that first cup of coffee.  This one was no exception and started to raise its head and coil up, not the response I wanted. So I touched the snake with my stick, and fortunately, that got it moving.  Every time the snake stopped, which was often, I encouraged it.  The snake was in little hurry, but at least it finally got off the road and into the woods. It was headed straight towards the paintball headquarters, and I hope it doesn't linger there or that it stays out of sight should that activity be active this evening. 

A lot of people have an aversion to snakes and think the only good one is a dead one.  I'm not one of those people, and I am more favorably disposed to black rat snakes than a few of them I'd just as soon not see.  So, this morning readers are spared my planned rant about the terrible heat. And the heat is supposed to break tomorrow, so it will be old news when I post again.


The Furry Gnome said...

Good work!

Cathy said...

Good for you for sparing that snake life.

Is it fall yet? Today and yesterday was just plain awful with the heat. I was so hoping that a t-storm would come through last night. Well, it went North of us and I got watch a bit of light show. Maybe tomorrow

Scott said...

Northern rural Arkansas seems to be box turtle heaven. Kali and I must have rescued 30 turtles from country roads during a 3-hour drive there a few years ago. At least we didn't have to use sticks!

Let's hope we get some relief from this miserable weather and don't lose power in the process so that we have to sit in our house without air conditioning while the humidity's 100% outside!