Last week, right about the time my post about venomous snakes came out (gotta love the scheduled post), I was hanging out in the woods with some fellow Scout dads, working on cooking a steak dinner on a giant charcoal grill.  As it turned out, my recent homework on snakes came in extremely handy.

Steaks

I realized I was missing some paperwork needed for a post-steak meeting, so ran back to camp to get it.  When I returned, all my fellow steak chefs were hanging around by a shed, and not the grill.  Hmmmm…..

“A big copperhead just went in there”, came the explanation.  Two Scouts had come around the corner, yelled, and the snake took off under the door of the shed.  The Ranger (maintenance, facility and wild-pest-eradication guy rolled into one) had been called, and all our chefs were guarding the shed watching for either the snake, or more Scouts not paying attention, or both.

I was bummed to have missed the wildlife encounter, by also perplexed – copperheads, as I wrote last week, are dangerous precisely because they DON’T typically run away.  They freeze, relying on camouflage.  Bites are often a surprise by a snake you never saw.  One of the leaders said, ” It was a beautiful snake.  Here, I got a picture!”.  Wow!  Smartphones sure do come in handy.

Corn_Snake,_NPSPhoto_(9255026919)-CropHe showed me a picture of the snake’s body stretched out along the shed.  I don’t have the picture, but it resembled the shot here – a slender snake, mostly beige, with dark brown, reddish bands, outlined in black.  Couldn’t see the head.

Slender, bands outlined as if with a sharpie…  It was NOT a copperhead – had to be it’s maligned cousin, the Eastern Corn Snake.  Thus started the discussion on why I was so sure (and thankfully, I had just brushed up on this, so I could defend my position with confidence even though I was the only one in the group not to have seen it).

By the time the Ranger showed up, our collective story had changed – corn snake.  His response, certainly happy not to have to deal with a pit viper – “Great, let’s just leave him alone and maybe he can take care of the mice in there.”

And all’s well for us, AND the snake – except of course that the Scouts missed the lesson!

Get Out There
Troy
flying-squirrel.org

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