Saturday, June 27, 2015

June 27, 2015 - Eastern Milk Snake


There are no poisonous snakes in Maine, but that doesn’t stop some people from being scared half to death of them.  I have never been afraid of snakes.  Now, spiders are another thing altogether . . .

This is an Eastern Milk Snake, and it is common from Maine to Ontario, Canada.  It eats rodents, birds, eggs, and frogs.  Because it is a kingsnake, it uses constriction to kill its prey and will also eat other snakes.  It has a habit of shaking its tail when threatened, which this one did to me, and so it’s often confused with a rattlesnake.  However, there are no rattlesnakes in Maine, and that’s a good thing.  This fellow was quite large, actually very much so, and I wish I could have caught him as a specimen because they don’t usually get quite this big.  He had to be four feet long, perhaps longer, and that means he must have been at least three years old.

The Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum).

An encounter with a snake is always a momentary occurrence, and today was no exception.  This photo was the best I could get with only a few seconds to react.  Snakes control their body temperature by basking in the sun or sneaking into the shade when overheated, which is what this fellow was doing when I found him.  He had clearly had enough sun and was looking for cooler ground, even though it was only 65 degrees today.  I tried to keep quiet and move slowly, and this made him pause for a second, but he simply didn’t trust me.

I guess I don’t blame him.  People are not usually very nice to snakes, but I think there’s so much we could learn from them.  For starters, I’d sure like to know how to shed my skin, wouldn’t you?  Imagine growing and changing, as we all do, and then getting rid of your old fa├žade and creating a whole new one.  Imagine a nice, new, shiny you.  Perhaps this is something we can already do, at least figuratively.  Anytime we sincerely wish to change, when we’ve outgrown or become disillusioned with who we are, we are free to shed our old habits and don new habits.  Perhaps we could keep in mind our friends, the snakes, when we are trying to change, and we could envision ourselves stepping out of the old, outworn person we once were and into the new person we now are.

It’s something to think about anyway.  Perhaps we should be nicer to snakes and they might teach us their secrets.



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