Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Creatures of Habit

A week or so ago I was riding my bike to work and as I came around a corner I heard something that sounded like a snake. You might not think that snakes make much noise, let alone a distinctive noise. I can't put my finger on it, but it is recognizably different from other animals, presumably related to the way they move.

I stopped and put down my bike and walked back to see if I could see anything. I was actually a bit surprised to see a snake on the edge of the path. I figured even if I had heard correctly that it would have disappeared into the bushes.

It had obviously been sunning on the warm ashphalt path. Cool mornings with warm sun are a good time to see snakes around here.

I slowly moved closer, expecting it to take off. Usually they're pretty nervous and wary of people. It was alert but allowed me to get to where I was crouching down beside it. It had started to move away but its tail was still on the path.

Out of curiosity I reached out and stroked it's tail. Surprisingly, it still didn't take off. I wondered if there was something wrong with it, but when I stood up it disappeared rapidly into the bushes. It was maybe just a little sluggish from the cold night.

Today, when I rode by the same spot, on another cool but sunny morning, I heard something again. Sure enough, there was a snake again, in the same spot.

I'm pretty sure it's the same individual since it's one of the largest, fattest garter snakes I've seen. If it was spring I'd assume it was a pregnant female, but I don't think that's the case this time of year.

I hadn't thought of snakes as creatures of habit, but it makes sense that they would remember good spots and reuse them. I'll have to keep my eye out for it.

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