Puppies and kittens and rainbows …

puppies

Apparently, big black rat snakes aren’t everyone’s favorite creatures. Hence, the above photo of adorable puppies.

They’re not my puppies, mind you, as I have no puppies, nor even a dog.

It’s simply a way to put something on this blog so that yesterday’s image of a large black rat snake – which I personally found fascinating – would no longer be the first thing folks saw when they clicked on this site.

I sensed a tiny bit of negativity toward snakes after posting the image of a five-foot reptile (see comments in yesterday’s post) that I caught in Newberry County, SC.

Or perhaps it was Mrs. Cotton Boll’s reaction, via email: “You are nuts! I hope you put that yellow jacket and all clothing directly in the washing machine. This freaked me out!”

Of course, I had failed to inform Mrs. Cotton Boll of my success in the snake-catching department the previous day, knowing that she is deathly afraid of our no-legged friends.

She is a regular reader of this blog, but I had failed to anticipate her response to a seeing a large constricting snake, particularly one wrapped around her husband’s wrist and hand.

Needless to say, a Hazmat team was dispatched to decontaminate all clothing that may have come into contact with said black rat snake, and I was politely but firmly admonished.

Actually, Mrs. Cotton Boll is a pretty good sport, given my proclivity for capturing odd wild beasts and her distaste of same. Of course, she did know what she was getting herself into when she said “I do.”

Florida pythons getting bigger and bigger

usa-florida-python

If it’s true that fear of snakes is among the most common phobias known to humans – and personal experience would indicate this is the case among nearly every adult woman and most men – then the Greater Everglades Chamber of Commerce has some mighty big obstacles to overcome.

Earlier this week, officials in the Sunshine State said they shot and killed a Burmese python in the Everglades that stretched more than 18 feet and weighed 150 pounds.

If confirmed, it would make it the largest snake ever captured in the famed wetlands region of Florida, which is noted for its wildlife, particularly reptiles.

The Burmese python is able to thrive in the Everglades because it’s an invasive species with no natural predators in the area.

“The number of pythons has skyrocketed, with more than 300 pythons being removed from the Everglades every year since 2007,” according to the online publication LiveScience. “Researchers don’t know their true numbers but estimate at least tens of thousands of the giant snakes inhabit the National Everglades Park.”

Tens of thousands?!? Even non-herpetophobes get creeped out by those numbers.

The snakes are wiping out native wildlife like bobcats, foxes and raccoons, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

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Snake in the grass bites snake on foot

copperhead

Pity the poor Maryland woman who was hit with a $55,000 medical bill after being treated for a venomous snake bite.

Pity her not for being bitten – she was treated at a Bethesda, Md., hospital and is now doing fine – but for her apparent lack of common sense or, more likely, lack of gratitude.

Jules Weiss, according to a story aired on WRC-TV in Washington, DC, had stopped to take a photo at an overlook along the George Washington Parkway. On the way back to her car, she felt something bite her.

Turns out it was a Copperhead, although the story makes it sound as though Weiss wasn’t aware of being bitten by a venomous snake. (How she didn’t happen to see the snake after it bit her isn’t addressed in the story.)

“It felt just like a bee sting,” she told the station. “There were two fang marks with liquid coming out.”

So what did the former emergency medical technician do? Nothing, apparently. It was only an hour later that she noticed her foot had turned “grayish” and started to swell.

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There’s nothing like a pet that can kill you

gaboon viper fangs

A Utah man is in a bit of hot water after firefighters, responding to a report of a blaze, found half a dozen venomous snakes among 28 serpents in the individual’s home, located in Clearfield, north of Salt Lake City.

The unidentified individual did not have a permit for the venomous snakes, which were uninjured in the fire.

The vipers, which were kept in cages in a separate room, included five rattlesnakes, and, rather astonishingly, a gaboon viper, one of the most deadly snakes known to man.

Gaboon vipers, which grow up to six feet in length, are native to sub-Saharan Africa, have fangs up to two inches long and possess the highest venom yield of any snake in the world.

The snake’s bite can, not surprisingly, have a rather distasteful effect on humans, including: rapid and conspicuous swelling, intense pain, severe shock, defecation, urination, swelling of the tongue and eyelids, convulsions and unconsciousness. In addition, there may be sudden hypotension, heart damage and shortness of breath. The victim’s blood may become incoagulable with internal bleeding that may lead to vomiting of blood.

(I know what you’re thinking: Urination, defecation and vomiting of blood – now that’s a good time.)

Also, local tissue damage may require surgical excision and possibly amputation. Healing may be slow and fatalities during the recovery period are not uncommon.

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Where not to get a vacation timeshare

golden lancehead

Thirty miles off the coast of Brazil and less than 100 miles from São Paulo, one of the world’s largest and most congested cities, lies a 110-acre subtropical island called Ilha de Queimada Grande. Sounds perfect for an idyllic retreat, right?

No, not in this case. Ilha de Queimada Grande has a population of exactly zero. That would be because the Brazilian Navy prohibits anyone from landing on the island.

Even fans of limited government would have to agree that the reason is a good one: Ilha de Queimada Grande is literally infested with one of most venomous species of snakes known to man, the golden lancehead.

How infested, you ask? To the tune of one golden lancehead per square meter. For those of you who struggle with the metric system, that’s roughly one bad snake every 3-1/2 feet.

Some researchers have estimated that as many as five golden lancehead per square meter can be found on Ilha de Queimada Grande, according to Atlas Obscura. (The island, also known colloquially in English as Snake Island, is covered with jungle, hence the high density as the vipers  inhabit trees and the island floor.)

The lancehead genus of snakes is responsible for 90 percent of Brazilian snakebite-related fatalities.

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How I outfoxed a 6-ounce bird and four eggs

Killdeer 008 a

My 2013 Mess with Nature Tour found me in a small churchyard in a neighboring South Carolina county this past weekend, where I came across a clutch of killdeer eggs and one very aggravated mama killdeer.

Prior adventures this summer in the never-ending quest to snare (and release) God’s creations include catching a baby turkey, catching and being bitten by two separate black snakes, catching but not being bitten by any of half a dozen Eastern box turtles, being outsmarted by several baby moorhens, along with numerous run-ins with lizards, skinks and anoles.

The latest occurred while I was in a quiet graveyard off a two-lane state highway. The cemetery, enclosed by a beautiful old stone wall, was without trees and had little vegetation except grass.

As I wandered about, an adult killdeer about 15 feet in front of me suddenly began plying its “broken-wing” routine, squawking and struggling to keep its balance.

Thinking there were babies about, I quickly scanned the area, but saw none. With nothing but headstones in the graveyard I knew there was nowhere to hide, so I determined there must be a clutch of eggs somewhere close.

I scoured the ground along a 20-square-foot patch of ground, but found nothing, so I then tried a bit of triangulation, seeing which movement caused the killdeer to come back toward me most rapidly.

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Critters, daughters & other wonders of nature

Newberry Fairfield 19 20 May 2013 283

Hot, muggy weather returned to my realm this past weekend, and with it came an abundance of wildlife.

Yesterday, while spending the day with Daughter No. 4, we caught four turtles, one rat snake, one glass lizard, wildflowers galore, and, the highlight of the day, a baby turkey, or poult.

(Of course, we rang up a big fat zero on the day’s stated goal: catching fish.)

Now, no offense to aficionados of turtles, snakes or glass lizards, but catching the baby turkey was definitely the highlight.

While driving in a rural part of a rural county toward mid-afternoon we spied a hen on the side of the road. My daughter also caught sight of several youngsters, so I stopped the car and set off into the underbrush while she grabbed the camera.

The hen immediately began clucking and trotting in large circles around me, trying to draw me away from her babies. My daughter began taking pictures every time the hen ventured near her while I crouched in the brush stock still, trying to catch sight or sound of the youngsters.

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