Sunday, April 3, 2011

Snake Hunts

 When I was growing up I had a fascination with snakes. A lot of boys I knew liked snakes but not the way I liked snakes.I wanted to be a herpetologist. My friend Mark and I had regular snake hunts and we did this with regularity all through spring and summer. Fortunately for us there were ample woods and fields to hunt in and the snake population back then seemed well, bountiful I guess.
 I had built several snake cages and had them all filled shortly after the beginning of Spring each year. We caught the every day variety of garter snake pretty much whenever we wanted just to go find a snake. But some days fortune smiled upon us and I would come home with any of several varieties that unfortunately, I haven't come across in several years. Back then it was no big feat to catch a milk snake (and no- no, they do not milk cows I don't care who's grandpa saw it with his own eyes!), a corn snake (mostly named for the fact that they are often found in the rows of corn hunting field mice), a bull snake, blue racers ( there again, they really don't go any faster than any other similarly sized snake and as far as I know under most circumstances they certainly would not chase you!), a green snake (which are so good at camouflage that they may have been in the vicinity but my snake spotting eyes probably aren't as skilled as they once were) or even a hog-nosed snake. Now a hog-nosed snake is an awesome snake. They do have a little turned up snout thus the hog-nosed part. But they will also spread out their neck similar to what a cobra might do as a form of defense. Which is kind of weird because there are no cobras where hog-nosed snakes live so how did they even know? But when this doesn't work they'll roll over and play dead and quite convincingly I might add. If you doubt that you may look it up.
 So today as I came across this and two other blacksnakes on my walk through the woods I was once again taken back to my youth and the snake hunts. I'm not so sad that the days of the snake hunts are gone but it has been particularly saddening to me throughout the years that the species that were once so plentiful around here have either moved out due to the ever growing population or have just slowly dwindled in numbers so that any sighting would be considered a major event in the world of herpetology.
 Personally, I hope it's just my eyesight...

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