Thursday, April 19, 2012

Snake in the Yard

Some people might run screaming if they looked down to see a snake in their backyard, but for me it was a moment of soaring gratification.

Our yard is in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Most wild creatures have to be pushy to find a piece of real estate not overwhelmed by people. Gradually over the 19 years we have lived here we have restored native plants and tried to recreate habitat for California wildlife. Our goal was to create a wildlife refuge in our small yard.

CA slender salamanders, food for ring-necked snake
First the California slender salamanders made their presence known. Allen’s hummingbirds and Bewick’s wrens came to nest. Band-tailed pigeons and California towhees started making daily stops, while white-crowned sparrows, dark-eyed juncos and ruby-crowned kinglets began coming to spend the winter.

The birds brought native plant seeds, black nightshade, and attracted predatory birds like the Cooper’s hawk and red-shouldered hawk. The red-shouldered hawk dropped a western fence lizard into the yard. It took up residence. The western fence lizards have thrived.

And now a ring-necked snake, just a bit bigger around than a pencil and about 18” long, has arrived to hunt the young lizards and the salamanders. There is a natural balance settling over the yard. It  just proves that if you create habitat, wildlife will come.

Sorry there’s no photo. When I saw the snake moving gracefully through the grass, I thought about getting the camera. But I decided to just watch it gradually disappear into a bush and relished a moment of wildness in my “city” backyard.  Next time I'll take a picture, until then, check one of my favorite herp websites for photos

1 comment:

jengod said...

WONDERFUL! I would love a snake. Our alligator lizard died, but hopefully we'll get another one soon. :)