Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Snake in a Tree

No, it's not the latest Hollywood movie title and snakes in trees are not unusual occurrences, but a Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) in a tree was a surprise.

On Friday, the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest hosted two students from Ashley Ridge High School's workplace shadow program. In the morning, we walked the 1.75-mile boardwalk through the old-growth, cypress-tupelo swamp and discuss the varied aspects of work at the center.  After lunch, since the young men came wearing snake boots, we walked out to see the beaver dam and generally explored the off-boardwalk areas. We headed back to the center along the south side of the boardwalk in order to explore the area where we had earlier seen two fawns.

As we were walking 25 feet from the boardwalk, one student said, "Snake."  We stopped. We had been watching the ground carefully, so we were somewhat surprised that we had missed it.  Camouflage is what makes some snakes difficult to see (bad news for prey), so missing a snake was not impossible.  We were still looking ahead when the student said, "No, back here."  We looked back where we had walked and saw nothing.  The student again gave direction, "No, up here."  The Timber Rattlesnake (1-1/2' to 2') in the images was above the ground between a vine and a sapling.  We only had the iPod Touch camera and the snake had moved elsewhere by the time we returned with a better camera.

We were also able to capture a brief video.

No matter how many times we walk out along the boardwalk, we invariably see something new or something old doing something new or in a different place.  Never a dull moment!

Images and video by Mark Musselman

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