4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses

4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses
“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” ~Langston Hughes *pictured: '4Shoes Bookends'

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Snakey Point of View

The 4Shoes is not so many miles from one of Nature's Great Wonders - the Narcisse Snake Dens. Each May thousands upon thousands of red-sided garter snakes emerge from their wintering caves -- it is a true natural wonder. 

Because Narcisse is the red-sided garter snake capital of the world, the area is also home to more ravens than anywhere else in Canada; ravens LOVE garter snake livers! They will kill the snake, flip it over & eat just the livers, then leave the rest behind. Ravens kill even more snakes than do cars; in the ditches for quite a long stretch of road around the dens are little, foot high fences designed to channel the snakes away from trying to sun themselves on or cross the treacherous highway. 

After coming above ground, the snakes drapes themselves over the rocks to warm up in the sun & prepare to breed; the males emerge first, lay in wait for the females, & then form massive snake mating 'balls' around any female they come across. Snakes are not too choosy... occasionally a male snake will give off a false pheremone to entice the other males to form a 'ball' around him so that he may be warmed faster.  Sneaky Snakes!

Once the mating season is over, the snakes go their separate ways, until the fall when they follow scent trails back to the dens to over-winter together & conserve warmth. Interestingly, mama garters give birth to their live babies & keep right on moving! Baby garters do not return to the dens until their second year (finding them by the same scent trails) & will over-winter their first year wherever they can find a likely place (inside bale of hay is common - don't ask me how I know that!); the theory is that the first year snakes actually freeze & then come back to life in Spring like woodfrogs do. 

I happily leave the snakes alone to do their much appreciated job of eating things that are far more objectionable to me, like bugs & small rodents. 
Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that the Saint has an entirely different point of view...

7 comments:

  1. Another reason to love ravens! Just kidding. I would actually like to see them.

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    1. The ravens here are enormous, especially in comparison to crows. We also have bald eagles here, who also like the taste of snake.

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    2. I bet they are big if they can handle eating snakes!

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  2. That's why I love Germany, our nature is so plain and easy to handle. Fascinating but scary topic.

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    1. Privileged to be Canadian, I am lucky to live within a huge scale of variety - variety in climates, rural vs urban or suburban, & so many wild animals that roam free.
      Just here on our own property I have actually seen black bears, timber wolves, coyotes, racoon, skunks, deer, etc, to say nothing of the hundreds of bird species & small animals such a squirrels (both red & grey here) or of the animals that I know to be in the vicinity but not seen with my own eyes.

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  3. I'm not a big fan of snakes but they do have a job in nature. I think Ravens are fascinating birds. Surprised to hear they only eat the livers.

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    1. I understand from the guides at the dens that, while in other places they might not be able to be so picky, here the ravens have so much to eat that they can afford to be wastrels. Have you ever heard that ravens are quite good mimics, in addition to other talents?

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