Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Everyone is welcome at a picnic

Yet another great article by Charlotte Hubbard:

Over the 4th of July weekend, we were joined by an elegantly slender, bright green reptile who quietly watched us from the rafters of the picnic shelter. The rough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus) made an appropriately dainty appearance, though she stretched almost 30 inches in length. We would not have noticed her had my husband not looked up as the rain began to tap against the shelter’s tin roof.

I call our little visitor she as females tend to be larger, and June through July is egg laying time for this species. Maybe she was looking for a cozy location for her dozen or so eggs. The rough green snake moves slowly and deliberately through the vines and bushes stalking its invertebrate and small amphibian prey, often mimicking the movement of branches swaying in the breeze. This behavior helps the rough green snake become totally one with its surroundings and enables it to be a stealthier predator.

She danced her slow and elegant dance for us as we stood quietly looking up at this vibrant visitor. I was filled with curiosity, wanting to find out all about this beautiful creature. There is plenty to know: great climber, shy and easily stressed, social enough to share nests with other females, one of the few snakes to feast on insects with only an occasional tree frog ( But also there is lots of information out there about how to buy these beautiful reptiles in the pet trade. Unfortunately, this gentle creature is often collected for sale and suffers much stress and mortality in the process.

This encounter with our picnic guest left me wondering how I can promote curiosity about and commitment to our unexpected visitors. How can we as humans move away from an attitude of ownership toward one of stewardship?

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