Hello everyone. I know I’ve been very, very quiet but I’m sorting out my daily calendar and hope to put back what I took down, but also write new content.
Snakes and I have a long and varied history. My first interaction was when I was a child, and I was walking with a sister down a hill back to school. I heard my bio-ma yell something and turned to see a Ute moving off the road and onto the pea gravel edging close to where we were walking.
The driver slammed on their brakes and came to a stop.
Bio-ma was running down the road screaming and yelling until she reached us. The driver, a man, got out and, and after bio-ma had her daughter, the other one, in her arms, she calmed enough to as ask, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
He pointed to his front tire, I don’t recall which one, and there was a dead snake under it.
“Never seen anythin’ like it,” he said (paraphrasing), pointing to the sister and I, “the damn thing was following them.”
Growing up in Australia everyone is semi aware of snakes, though I have come to find some are completely ignorant to them, but that’s another story.
The next vivid memory was when I was sitting up a fruit tree eating fruit when a large brown slithered by. You can read the entire story about this in my digital memoir, Food of the Trees.
There have been other times, lots in fact, but where I live now, Tasmania, that’s where the funniest interactions have occurred. I walked around the side of the house one day, towards the back, when I saw something long, and black flip into the air, slam back to earth, and slither off. I might have had a heart attack if I didn’t find it so funny.
There she was resting in the beautiful afternoon sun after a swim in the lake and some inconsiderate human disturbed her peace.
The next memorable adventure was when we first moved the chook pen closer to the house, and we added a nice verandah area and above ground garden to… oh, I don’t know… maybe grow our own food? The joke is, we have 200 acres, and it’s granite and clay so digging holes in the ground to erect proper fencing is impossible. So, everything we do grow gets eaten by an assortment of beautiful wild life.
So, one day I walked out the front door, then opened the snake proof gate to our newly snake proofed area, when something off to my right caught my eye and I turned to see a Tiger lazing in the sun. When he heard me, he slithered into a hole a rat you could strap a saddle on had dug… in and under our new snake proofed garden and sitting area. He stayed while I threw scraps to the chooks and watched as I walked back into the house.
For some reason I was in and out all day. Every time I stepped out, the Tiger snake would be lying in the same spot, and every time he slithered back into the hole. The last time I swear I almost heard its hissing sigh.
“Jessss ssstay in sssside.”
Eventually I called a snake handler. We looked everywhere, but the snake had moved on.
I have other Tiger snake stories, but there are two Copper head stories that are interesting.
One occurred in the early days when the new chook shed was erected. I walked out early one morning to let the chooks out. It was a lovely day, so I really kind of strolled there. If you knew me, you’d find that my stroll looks very much the same as my walking, trotting, running, though I do carry a big stick, a dick if you will (walking stick) and use it to alert any snakes to my presence. So, I opened the solid, nothing’s chewing through that, door to their coop, but the girls didn’t fly out using my head as a jumping point like usual.
I cautiously stuck my head in and off to my left on a chair in the coop was a Copperhead. It was coiled on the chair and had its head raised. It looked inquisitive and the girls were all playing possum. The Copperhead was casually looking around and instead of the usual hissing like the Tigers, it slowly moved towards me. I didn’t make any sudden movements when it moved to a hair’s breadth from my face, and took a sniff then moved away again.
I took that moment to step back and was ready to leave the yard, I have a healthy respect for nature, when Rodney the rooster made a mad dash between my legs. That gave the girls permission to “Flee the coop,” and they began to fly over me, into me and on top of me.
Two days ago I was making my way around the other side of the house where the empty water tanks live, when I saw another Copperhead. If I wasn’t in the habit of walking outside looking down, I would have stood on if.
So here’s the point to this story.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Copperheads are the cool dudes of the snake world (In Australia). Yes, they’re deadly poisonous, but there’s more chance of surviving a Copperhead bite than a Tiger snakes. Copperheads deliver a dry bite, so I’m told.
The Copperhead didn’t’ rear back. It didn’t hiss, it just stopped and lay in the ground staring at me, as did I, only, in reverse. It had a sort of, “Hey, dude, watch it. I don’ wanna bite ya, so phew to ya stoppin’… so… whadawe do now?”
“I can wait,” I said and turned and went back inside.
“Phew! Thank dude.”
Now, I’m unsure, but think the Tiger snake who frequented for over five years, searching for an easy meal of chicks and baby rats in our roof, may have been taken out this year by a large European Raven. She began hanging around me as I fed the chooks and Peacocks/hens/chicks, and started nesting in our roof three-years ago.
It was interesting listening to her lift tin the roof to make enough room to get in and out.
This year she decided to forgo the annual ritual massacre Syd, yes we named him, and the rats brought upon her chicks, and dealt with the situation herself.
The first thing we realised when we moved to Tasmania twenty-years ago, was everything, bar the Kangaroos, was much bigger: rats, mosquitos, spiders… it was disconcerting to hear the ceiling creak and groan under Syd’s all-you-can-eat belt as he slithered above us.
The ceiling erupts into beautiful bird song when the chicks hatch, but with the screams and the pounding footsteps of river rats, and the creaking ceiling under Syd’s slither… well, let’s just say the massacre is horrific.
I think this year the Raven either killed Syd in the roof, or picked him up in her enormous black beak and carried him out through her doorway carved through rock, block and tin, cut him in half and fed him to the Peacocks/hens/chicks, because he’s not been in the roof since. And a Copperhead has taken his territory. Whatever happened, the ritual massacre did not occur this year.