Friday, August 24, 2007

Spiders and Snakes

Spent a morning exploring a portion of Turkey Creek Trail with my brother and his son. As we hiked we found the trail to be shrouded with webs of golden silk and garden spiders. A person afflicted with arachnophobia would've gone off the deep end had they seen what we saw. They were everywhere, most smack in the middle of the trail and with me leading the way I ended up covered in spider's silk.
These large spiders can have an ominous appearance due to their size and they do have fangs, but they're basically harmless and are not poisonous. I lightly tapped an area of one of the webs and the spider raced to the very spot. Creepy.........

My brother was the snake magnet for the day spotting two. The first one moved away so quickly I was unable to catch or identify it. Its backside was mostly a brownish color with no discernible markings. We searched for several minutes around the brush it escaped into with no luck. The other was a nice diamond-backed water snake that was as thick as my forearm. If you've ever encountered one of these chunky snakes you know that they can be pretty aggressive when accosted. This particular one, often mistaken for a cottonmouth, has a habit of flaring its head out giving it a triangular or "poisonous snake" appearance.
It was lying motionless on the edge of some brush and was in the process of shedding its skin (ecdysis). I knew this due to its dull appearance and the fact that its eyes were opaque. During this time snakes are more vulnerable and aggressive due to their vision being impaired. Sensing our scent or vibration it began to retreat into the brush so I grabbed its tail and pulled into the open. As I did this I got "musked" which is a normal occurrence when handling most non-venomous snakes and is used as their first line of defense. Musk glands are located near the cloaca that spew the funk all over you when handling them and believe me it's not a very pleasant odor. I tried cleaning it off with anti-bacterial wipes, but the odor prevailed. As soon as it was entirely exposed it went on the defense rearing up to strike.......and strike it did hitting me twice in the leg. The speed of its strike was scary fast and solid. The first attempt just grazed me but the second time its teeth became hung up in the nylon fabric of my pants leg. Pulling back violently it released itself and prepared for another strike if needed. I checked my leg and found that it didn't connect. What a rush......to me anyway, but my brother almost had a stroke. He just knew it was poisonous.

NOTE: The focus of this hike was to get my nephew Garet "outside" to experience what is out there. To peak his interest in the wild things that make up the beauty of this planet. Kids his age nowadays are unfortunately more interested in other things such as video games, etc. and really have no idea what surrounds them. It is our duty as adults to get our children and grandchildren back to nature for they are the future protectors of what, unfortunately, is headed for a collision course with disaster. They are our only hope.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Larry said...

Cool post, its probably a good thing the snakes vision was blurred. I agree about the value of Nature for our kids. I think they are loosing touch with it. Theres a gret book out now on that topic by Richard Louve "Last Child in the Woods".

7:21 PM  

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