Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Texas Rat Snake: A Second Chance

This nice little Texas rat snake was hit by a car yesterday and miraculously survived. I was driving near Spicewood Springs and saw the poor thing trying to cross the street. He was in my lane so I skillfully dodged and whipped into a parking lot. As I jumped out and made for the street I saw another car whiz by and the snake recoil suddenly. It looked as if the car had run him over. Suddenly he started toward the parking lot again. I intercepted him just as he was about to disappear under a parked car. As I picked up the snake I could tell he was disoriented.
I continued on my way holding the snake in my left hand and steering with the right. He was fairly calm and didn't even try to bite, but he seemed to have trouble breathing. His mouth was open and I could see a small string of blood inside. The ocular scale covering his right eye was also slightly damaged and they eye seemed to have suffered some trauma. As I arrived at my destination, he died. Or so I thought. I placed his body in an empty Sonic cup and brought it inside to show my wife. By the time I found her, the snake was moving around again and flicking his tongue. He must have just been terribly stunned or lost consciousness.
It's been over 24 hours and the snake seems to be doing fine. I haven't decided whether to relocate him (he can't go back to the neighborhood where I found him) or keep him to use in my educational programs. I think he'll make at least one show: Science Night at Caraway Elementary is tomorrow night.
This Texas rat snake is about 3 feet long and displays the typical coloration and pattern. They can grow to over 6 feet in length. Temperaments range from fairly docile to very aggressive. I've encountered both ends of the spectrum, but most seem to fall somewhere in between. Texas rat snakes are non-venomous and very beneficial to humans. They snakes are very common throughout their range and perform the vital service of consuming huge numbers of rodents that might otherwise spread out of control.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you gave the guy a second chance! One of my coworkers recently saw a snake at the office and had someone kill it. Word got upstairs to me that a DIAMONDBACK with a COFFIN SHAPED HEAD had been seen CRAWLING UP the building wall. I promptly went outside to find the body (followed by a coworker who is TERRIFIED of snakes, apparently even dead ones since she made me hold her hand and swear to her that no nests were nearby and the snake's cousin would not come for revenge...not making that up). It was a medium sized Texas rat snake that had recently eaten. I was so sad for him and made sure to tell everyone in the office their mistake in killing such a beautiful and beneficial creature (and the range of diamondbacks)


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