Nature's Place

Snake …

Hiding under a web of tough plant stems, see the eye open, middle left. Well aware I am coming for it, unwilling to run with meal in place. Snakes are such confident creatures, rightly so. Carpet snakes are not known for being aggressive.

*Click on the pictures for a proper look … and click again

See the eyes wide open, waiting … she was reluctant to leave the safety of the pillow case so I had to prod her a few times. Carefully, so as not to cause more than a little encouragement, in order to get a shot or two as it emerged. She’s a beauty.

It emerged, I was in place with camera, it didn’t care. And off it went with a purpose, gotta get out of the clear sky above, eagles about, or kookaburras maybe. About 4 feet long and 1.5 inch across the head, still swollen with mouse. A little blurry because we are both moving, it was a lucky shot, and she’s smiling …

The rains started a while back and a few days into it the cat got jittery, hadn’t seen him like it before. It occurred to me the wet would be a time of migration for the native creatures so attributed his apparent anxiety to a passing snake, perhaps – I had seen a small one.

Weeks passed and he was still nervous about going out, either the back or the front deck, and I thought he just needed more time to get over it, whatever it was. But he wasn’t getting over it … he wouldn’t even go out on his own any more. And it was becoming problematic.

Then one day I was watering a pot on the deck and I noticed faint movement where no movement should be, it was a snake, with a belly full of mouse – I presume. It was wide awake and well aware of me nearby but obviously unwilling to take flight.

What to do … Looking inside I saw the primal fear of a body for snake, or any wild animal capable of inflicting damage, so I had to encourage myself, to figure out what to do with it, and do it. I would leave it be, but not with a scaredy cat in the house, it was making him unhappy and cat was here first.

I’ve seen it done on TV so I got a pillow case and put on leather gloves, but the snake was entwined in the stems of a plant by the cactus so I had to cut what looked like would make it easier to extract the snake without entanglement, if I could get a hold on the head end without hurting it, or me.

And so it was … I disturbed missy snake enough to get her to raise her head and gripped her firmly so as not to allow for accidents of bite, snake bite. Snake didn’t come without a struggle, though a minor one really. The digesting mouse would have sedated it too, I think.

I had its head end in one hand and the pillow case in the other while also using it to release its body from entanglement with the stems, it was easy enough, with room for error. It did try and hold on to one stem it could still easily entwine, but I had a will to remove it …

without harming it if possible. And all went well. They are powerful creatures, muscle tone like a tree trunk, unbending unless forced. But it never panicked, snake was calm throughout, more or less.

And so was I, more or less. It was a partnership, of a kind. The contrary kind. Into the car and off to the local bush, Eprapah, and release. Pillow case on the seat next to me seeming alive.

Once there I opened the pillow case and had to prod it out and once out it didn’t hesitate, off it went into the undergrowth, barely a chance for a clear shot.

Throughout she appeared to just take it in her stride, fight response disengaged, in it to the end, naturally.

Bye bye snake …

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look



Snake in the Grass

I was out walking through the tall dry grass one recent sunny day and was about to put my foot down when I caught a sense of something out of place – made me stop dead.

A shape that only one creature I know makes, a long and perfect double S. It was obviously a snake from the go but the oddest thing is it didn’t move when I nearly trod on it.

I stopped mid-stride and pulled back slowly and tested with my stick, an indispensable tool. When I was satisfied it wasn’t going to strike I got closer for a rare look at a snake in the wild.

It still didn’t move and I saw its eye was glazing over, a little milky, a sign of death long over. Inspecting it closely from head to ‘foot’ I could see what happened, why it died on this spot.

Its tail was wrapped in a dried out stalk of the long grass that grows here. The grass and tail were intertwined the way you see snakes mating on tv, sometimes, and it looked like the snake was trying to pull away.

But instead of untwining as snakes can, this one tried to pull straight off the grass and the grass cut into its tail, down to the bone, tighter and tighter the more the snake struggled.

And that’s how it died, struggling to live. Held firmly to the spot by a thread of grass wound tight around its tail.

Strange that the snake would have been caught so easily but that’s nature, you can’t take nature for granted.

It was a perfect death anyway. And a perfect life.

Who’s to say otherwise?

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge