Friday, July 27, 2007

Really Fast Food!

As the group of children from MUSC's STARS program were getting their orientation for the swamp at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, one young man asked, "Is that a snake?" He was pointing high and back at the building, so it surely was a stick on the roof or some other "Bet you think I'm a snake" swamp prop. However, as the image cleary shows, it was a Greenish Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta x quadrivittata) draped in the rain gutter.

Greenish Rat Snakes are superb climbers, so the snake's presence on the low roof was not alarming or impressive. However, the snake's focus of attention was ambitious to say the least. The second image shows where the snake was looking...a newly-installed hummingbird feeder on the second floor window. Again, getting to the location would not be impressive for a Greenish Rat Snake, but trying to catch a visiting meal would be a challenge. Unquestionably, that is "fast food". In the end, the snake gave a gaping (enough to drive a rat in) yawn to the crowd below, dropped into the gutter and began its exit from the area.

The hummingbirds have reason to be cautious. Smaller predators than snakes have dined on hummingbirds (praying mantis, praying mantis, spiders/dragonflies/frogs/fish) and some snakes are capable of grabbing bats out of the air (here).

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