Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time to feed "Einie" - thinking of snakes

Today we need to buy another mouse to feed Einstein, my son's pet corn snake (the red one pictured here), and I started looking through our snake pictures from the last few summers. We caught the yellow-bellied racer (with the yellow belly, duh, and greenish back) near the Greenville Y, around twelve miles from Quincy. We just kept it long enough for photo ops then let it go, which is what we usually do with wild snakes. Our corn snake was bred in captivity. The gopher snake, AKA bull snake, was found in the school yard near Leggett. We kept it and fed it for a few weeks, then released it where we caught it. Note the painting of Einstein in the background of my classroom. Maybe that inspired my son to name his snake Einstein - Einie for short. The other two photos are of a ring-neck snake, found in our back yard in Leggett. Virtually all the non-venomous wild snakes are easily hand-tamed. The gopher snake might strike and bite when first caught, but nearly always calms down quickly and gets used to being held. Same with the racers, although if you keep them as pets for a while, you need to keep them fed and watered. If they are hungry or thirsty they understandably get angry. Snakes are descended from reptiles that had legs, and in some species the vestigial pelvic girdle and leg bones are still present, barely. We find their feeding behavior and locomotive skills remarkable and snakes are always great conversation starters, for better or worse. We hope more people learn to like them.

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