Monday, April 08, 2019

The Snake in the Garden

ring-necked snake juvenile

Today was the day to see our resident snake. It's a ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus). This serpent is harmless to people and an important member of our backyard ecosystem. It eats lizards and their eggs, salamanders, and a range of invertebrates.

The first time I spotted one was in 2012. A year later we found part of a dead individual, though it appeared to be smaller. The last time we had a good look was in 2015 when we found a juvenile. More about ring-necked snakes (2015)

Video of ring-necked snake

clivia provides shelter for the shy snake
Last year there was only a fleeting glimpse as it slide between some plants and disappeared under a large rock. 

Today the ring-necked snake was about 45 cm or 1.5 feet long. I don't know for sure that it is the same individual, but it's not impossible. If it was, it had grown from the width of a slim pen to that of a fine felt-point marker. It still is thinner than a human pinkie finger. 

The ring-necked snake was reclining on a warm garden stepping stone until I came walking along and disturbed it. Quickly it fled for the protection of the clivia. Snakes are generally shy creatures trying to survive in a world where they are demonized. Most snakes are not a threat to people at all.

I admit that I am just as startled as anyone else when a slender snake moves past my blundering foot. But then, I stop, observe, and see that it is my ring-necked friend and I have nothing to fear. The ring-necked snake is a beautiful creature. I watched it go about its business and marked the day because it will probably be 365 days or more before I see it again.

Not a snake! Look closely and you'll see legs. Alligator lizard.
Other snakes - gopher snake; wild gopher snake eating rodent
Lizards: western fence lizard, alligator lizard
Slender salamanders

Creating Native Habitat for Wildlife and You

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