Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Sad Demise Of A Grass Snake (not Samantha Helvetica)

So I'd not long been back from taking L to school this morning when Teddy started making a strange noise. Midway between excited and angry, it was a sound I hadn't heard from him before. It wasn't his "I've seen a pigeon" bark, or his "there's a squirrel!" enraged yelping, nor "Burglar Alert!" or "friend approaching." I went to investigate and discovered a fatally wounded grass snake lying at his feet. From the state of the patio and Teddy's face I'm afraid it was obvious he'd been chucking it around.

I felt very sad. As regular readers of the blog will know, last month we had a HUGE one in the garden who we (I) named Samantha Helvetica (see this post ), and I have been keeping an eye out for her, especially in this hot weather which is prime snake basking time, but have had no sign. However, this wasn't her, it was too small, but I did wonder whether it may perhaps have been a Samantha Helvetica Child? In which case there will be others about.

I took pictures because it isn't often that you get the chance to see these creatures that close up, and they are undeniably fascinating, and so different from the majority of the wildlife we are used to seeing on a more regular basis. 

I suspect the latent scientist in me is waking up, probably in preparation for my studies later this year, which is no bad thing. I've spent my life being drawn to and rooted in the arts, so adopting a more scientific approach will be an interesting challenge. I'm wondering how it will sit with my work as a healer, which is largely about sensing and being intuitive, but no doubt A Way Through Will Be Found, and perhaps utilising both approaches will be uniquely beneficial at times.

If you aren't a snake person it would probably be best to look no further!


Ted had disemboweled a central section, which meant I could see directly inside the snake. 



The classic yellow collar of the grass snake isn't so obvious in these photos. 
It was more so in the flesh




This is the underside of the snake- a completely different pattern to the top




Beautiful scales and markings


84cm or 33 inches long, so a reasonable size, but a lot smaller and narrower the SH














Grass Snakes are a protected species, and I'm particularly sad that Ted got to this one before I did, and that by the time I reached him he was beyond saving. However, having this contact does at least suggest that there are a number of Grass Snakes in the immediate area and hopefully the population is healthy enough to sustain the loss of the occasional member who ventures too close to a terrier's back garden.
My main concern now is that this is the second time Ted has shown no respect whatsoever for snakes and if he comes across an adder and treats it in that way that will not be good news for him. I shall have to be extra vigilant.

Contact like this does make you stop and think about what is in your garden that ordinarily you just never see. This is something I think about every time I put the moth box out too. Nature is great like that: full of surprises and treats.

14 comments:

  1. Oh CT that's sad, but thank you for a fascinating close up of Little Snake, something I would never have seen. As you know we have plenty of Adders here and they certainly would kill Teddy if he got bitten, as he's quite small.

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    1. That's my worry Suze. Just hoping we don't get any in the garden, I think I would fall apart if anything happened to Teddy.

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  2. What a shame. I love snakes. I nearly trod on an adder on Monday but failed to photograph it as I was too busy stopping Snippet from grabbing it. Beautiful thing slithered off into the long grass. I'm so glad to see it as none of us have seen one yet this year and only one lizard too. You're so right about what we don't see. The Bank Vole made me think about that too.

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    1. I've only ever seen one adder- a beautiful black one- on Canada common when L was little. Marvellous creatures. Just need to make sure T stays away from them.

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  3. Dogs will be dogs, I suppose...still sad, though. And less shocking, in my opinion, than the news that the number of animals killed in experiments has gone up by 8%.

    Stick to squirrels, Ted!

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    1. Crikey I thought we were past that sort of thing increasing as a nation. Hope your hols are continuing well. Seen any more hedgehog/ pheasants?? x

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  4. Oh Ted, Bracken would have done exactly the same. Or maybe he would have been too much of a wuss! Although a sad situation, it is so interesting to see a creature that otherwise is really secretive.

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    1. I had mixed emotions about it- would much prefer to see them safe and alive but appreciated the chance to get that close and study it. Hopefully as Bracken is bigger than T you won't need to worry too much about any potential adder encounters.

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  5. So sad about the grass snake - but thank you for posting the photos - they are so interesting. We have never had a grass snake in the garden. Snakes are such beautiful creatures! Definitely need to keep Teddy away from adders.

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    1. I've been reading up on them since seeing the previous one and apparently they are incredibly shy and nervous and they feel the vibration of approaching feet long before we get near them so you may have them and just not know it. If you have a pond and a compost heap it's quite likely. Beautiful things. I'm still feeling sad about it today. And def need to separate T and Adders :-)

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  6. No more hedgehog/pheasants, sadly, but Andy saw a barn owl/pigeon on a telegraph wire this morning!

    Holiday does progress well. Seaside today, and picnic in Sheringham Park. Hope all bides well with you (ooh, that was a bit Jane Austen, wasn't it!?)

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    1. Ahh, I see this habit of confusing species runs in the family. I suppose it's quite cool for the pigeon being mistaken for a barn owl, but I suspect the barn owl would be less chuffed :-)

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  7. Grass Snakes are such beautiful creatures aren't they and it's amazing to see one in such close detail, though the manner of its demise is somewhat unfortunate to say the least :-( However our cat has provided us with a better understanding of the rodents found around our little rural idyll thanks to his hunting though thankfully he's useless when it comes to hunting birds !

    PS. I've just been catching up with your blog and you have seen lots of interest lately. I loved all the butterflies and moths (I am so envious of your new trap !) though I'm not sure I would like to sort through 400+ moths every morning !

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    1. I do have to steal myself on a moth day now and set aside most of the day for going through them all! I've also learnt to accept that most of them will escape into the room once the lid is off and not worry about it because they're generally quite happy sleeping on walls and ceilings inside till nightfall. It's not a box you'd want unless you were used to them and didn't need a book to ID every one! I wouldn't be without my moths now and find I miss them on non-moth box days. What will I do over winter?? :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x