Snake in the Grass

Brown phase black rat snake?

In eighteen summers on Goose Creek, this is the first rat snake (of scores) that was not black. Most have no hint of a pattern on the dorsal surface; this one does.

We’ve transported four snakes to other parts after catching them eating our eggs (well, our hens’ eggs) and then spotted another thirty feet of rat snake at various places about the farm.

We saw fewer brown water snakes this year, right many queen snakes near the creek, and not a single corn snake. And no copperheads–which thankfully have been rare: four in 18 summers.

And now the day of the snake is almost passed again for another year. And I’m pleased to have spotted this one next to the barn rock foundation–in the grass, except that the day before, I’d taken away his usual hiding cover with the string trimmer.


About fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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