8.28.2009

A Matter of Perspective

Late yesterday afternoon I was hard at work, desperately trying to get the work schedule completed for September and October. It's something I have been trying to accomplish for the past two weeks without success. One thing after another has interrupted me, including a blue screen error on a very important computer in our network (oh, the horror!). While I was working, probably scowling at the computer, there came a timid tap on the glass of the office door. I glanced up to see a gentleman peering in at me and it was obvious that he had a question to ask but was reluctant to interrupt me. Visitor questions always take precedence over just about anything else and I am never upset to be interrupted by someone who wants to know something about the park or a plant or an animal...he had questions about all three.

We chatted for a bit and I was able to answer all of his questions except one. He and his wife were geocachers and they were working they way from their home in New Jersey to their vacation destination in Emerald Isle, NC, finding caches all along the way. There is one cache immediately adjacent to the park and I am familiar with the location. (By the way, if you are a geocacher, please don't place a cache on a state park in NC without permission!) He told me that when they found the cache and prepared to sign the log book they got what he considered an unpleasant surprise -- a snake! The couple said it looked like a coral snake, orange with white stripes circling the body. I told them that we were a bit too far north for a coral and asked them if they noticed any black on the snake. One said no, the other said yes. Not unusual when two people see the same snake and try to describe it ;)

I told them I would go check it out. At this point I was cautiously optimistic about the possible identity of the snake and I grabbed a container just in case I was correct. The couple needed to be on their way so they gave me their email address and I promised to send them an ID if the snake was still in the cache. They left and I walked over to check the cache...

The snake was still there and, for me, it was the most pleasant of surprises. As I had hoped, the snake turned out to be a Scarlet Kingsnake, Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides. Scarlet kings are secretive little snakes and very hard to find. It put a huge smile on my face to find one in a mailbox of all places!

The snake was a beauty. I handled it briefly, took a few hurried shots and then let it go. A pleasant surprise indeed and a great way to end an otherwise frustrating day.



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Click on the photo below to appreciate just how pretty this little snake is.
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Be free! Live long and reproduce.
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14 comments:

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

It really is beautiful.
As someone who is more than a little uninformed regarding snakes, Don't all snakes have teeth and did you need to worry about a bite?

Sally said...

Very nice, and great photos! We have milk snakes here, similar but tiny... and also rarely seen. Congrats on a great observation.

Ellen Rathbone said...

What a loverly snake!!! And how thoughtful of the man to come in to report it, rather than just killing it on sight, as too many folks would do!

Do you share with people the rhyme: "Red and black, friend of Jack; Red and yellow, kill a fellow"? I find this is a great way to tell the benign from the venomous...not that it's a problem up here in the north where most of our snakes sport camouflage colors.

Caroline said...

Spectacular serpent!

sweet bay said...

What a nice story! The snake is beautiful.

Woodswalker said...

That snake is so beautiful, it's hard to believe it's real. Thanks for the photos.

Floridacracker said...

A beauty!

Hugh said...

How fun--a great story. This kind of work pays well in some ways that matter.

Pablo said...

Do you think that snake stumbled into the cache? Do you think the snake might get back in there again deliberately.

jason said...

An absolute beauty! Glad you got to see it and spend a bit of time with it. And a great way to interrupt a tedious day...

It was terribly funny that you pointed out the differing descriptions from people who saw the same snake. Isn't that the truth!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a cross between old Slick and Maize. What a beautiful snake!! Too bad Treebeard wasn't there to enjoy your moments of happiness, but I'm sure he is enjoying the pictures as we all are.

SIL and Ratdog

swamp4me said...

Lynne,
While it is true that all snakes have teeth, I wasn't worried about being bitten by this one. It did tap my hand a few times as I reached for it but it never opened its mouth. Even if it had tried to bite me it couldn't have inflicted much damage, it's mouth was much too small.

Sally,
I've never seen a milksnake -- it's on my wish list though!

Ellen,
It was particularly good of him considering he hated snakes!! And I do share that rhyme with folks. Some people seem to be convinced that every snake they see is venomous. Such a pity.

Caroline,
My thoughts exactly!

sweet bay,
I do enjoy a story with a happy ending :)

Woodswalker,
I was quite surprised to find it in a mailbox -- one usually finds them under logs. Oh, wait! It was under a log after all - the geocaching log ;)

FC,
True that!

Hugh,
Yep, it was one of those things that reminds me that I do love my job.

Pablo,
I think the snake found the box all by itself. It is not your typical mailbox and it is not in your typical mailbox location. As to whether it will return --- that remains to be seen. I will check the box from time to time.

jason,
It gave me lift I sorely needed! And it was amusing listening to the varied descriptions from the two eyewitnesses ;)

SIL and Ratdog,
Slick would happily eat this little fellow! Treebeard was quite jealous ;)

denapple said...

Swampy, I just finished four days of training as a Certified Interpretive Guide, and this is just the sort of thing we talked about. You are always an expert about everything to those with questions. I've passed this one on to our instructor who will appreciate it.

swamp4me said...

denapple,
Congratulations on your certification! I know you will do a great job.