6.06.2007

Second Chance

One of our maintenance mechanics called me on the radio while I was deep in the swamp. He had seen a snake cross the parking lot and then become entangled in some netting that the contractors had put down to help control erosion. I knew it would take me about 45 minutes to reach his location, so I asked him to shade the snake to try to help keep it from overheating. Much to his credit, for he has no particular love of snakes, he managed to put a protective cover over the very stressed animal. When I arrived the snake was in pretty rough shape but was still able to move its head around. I cut it loose with my pocket knife and brushed off the fire ants that had gathered on it. When I picked it up it didn't struggle - very untypical behavior for a banded water snake (Nerodia fasciata); they like to bite :)

I put the snake down near the water in a sheltered area and hoped for the best. When I checked the next morning, the snake was gone. Whether it recovered and swam away or some other critter made a meal of it, at least it didn't die caught up in that netting. I absolutely hate that stuff! Currently I am trying to get permission to remove the netting but I won't know until Friday. As soon as I get the go-ahead I will gleefully rip all that stuff up.

Oh, and many thanks to the MM for taking the picture of the snake's belly while I held it. Our bandeds are unusally marked, so I try to get pictures whenever I can.
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10 comments:

WrenaissanceWoman said...

I didn't appreciate snakes or spiders when I was younger, but now admire both for their place in the ecosystem. I choose to believe your guy recovered and left the scene before becoming dinner du jour - I like happy endings, so why not?

Anonymous said...

Much evidence of fire ant predation on your ground dwellers?

The prospect of being trapped by erosion netting in the sun while RIFA sting and gnaw you to death is pretty nightmare-inducing . . .

pablo said...

Nice rescue work. I think I would have done the same thing.

Cathy said...

You are so brave and such a friend to creatures. Wow.

Floridacracker said...

The bird netting they sell for berry crop protection is murder on snakes also. I've rescued so many black racers who were hopelessly bound up in it.
I don't use it anymore.

swamp4me said...

WW-
I, too, like happy endings :)

anonymous,
We don't have a huge number of fire ants, thank goodness. The ones we do have seem to be confined to the sandy areas along our roads. I haven't found any mounds out in the swamp proper.

pablo,
I don't think you would have done the same thing -- I know you would have. You're just that kind of guy :)

cathy,
I don't know about brave...but thanks!

FC,
I tried to convince the powers that be that it wasn't a good idea to use the netting but I didn't get very far. Now I have our resource biologists on my side so maybe, just maybe, I'll be allowed to take the nasty netting up.

meresy_g said...

I wonder how many snakes and other animals die from that netting. That is pretty much standard issue nationwide for any kind of stream restoration work. And then once the areas it protects reseeds, I don't think it ever gets removed.

swamp4me said...

meresy_g,
Last summer I found a mud turtle trapped in it - just hung up by one foot. The poor thing simply cooked in the 90+ degree weather. The netting is supposed to break down after a time but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere...

Jacki said...

I worked at a summer camp through college running the nature center, and one year a whole mess of banded water snakes hatched right outside the building. A great teaching opportunity, if it weren't for the fact that those snakes were the meanest things ever!

swamp4me said...

jacki,
Juvenile snakes do tend to be a little testy - particularly juvenile water snakes.