Eat Up, Me Hearty, Yo Ho!

There are a lot of young snakes and lizards out this time of year. Good timing actually, since the monsoon season had a couple months to encourage bountiful vegetation which in turn inspired prolific output of insects and rodents. Enough food to fill the belly and promote growth before hibernating during our long, cold winter. Yeah, so the last part I may have exaggerated a bit.

This young Gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer) was in my carport this evening. Hopefully it will catch and consume any small rodents before they start chewing on the wiring in my Prius. In case you haven’t heard, Toyota and several other auto makers use soy-based coating for some of their wiring systems (no matter what you may think of tofu, rodents apparently find it delicious).

I recently had some minor rodent damage to my car repaired. Thankfully, it was under $100. However, it did prevent my windshield wipers from functioning which I discovered when driving home, at night, in an intense monsoon storm. What could possibly go wrong in a situation like that?!

So, eat up, me hearty, yo ho!img_0900

Gophersnake, 10-12 inches long

Cheeky Bugger!

This past spring I noticed that a family of Rock Squirrels had moved into my front yard under a yucca. I watched their young romp and scamper and grow. Over time they’ve become quite acclimated and clearly view my yard and front porch as their territory.

Recently, they’ve taken to playing on the outside sill of my living room window. They seem to understand that my cats can’t harm them through the glass. While it is entertaining to watch their antics it is a teensy bit unnerving to look over and find them watching me.

Red on Yellow…

I grew up with this saying, “Red on yellow, kill a fellow. Red on black, friend of Jack.”¬† It is supposed to help you tell the difference between a venomous Coralsnake and a harmless Kingsnake. A handy little rhyme but not all that reliable since there are other snakes that look deceptively similar.

And truly, though the Sonoran Coralsnake (Micruroides euryxanthus) does carry a powerful neurotoxin there has not been one recorded case of human death from a Coralsnake bite. Likely because you’d practically have to stick your pinky in its mouth in order to get bit by this small snake – they only measure 2′ feet long.

I was quite excited to see this colorful creature slithering on my back porch tonight. First one I’ve noted on my property and it makes me happy to know that there is suitable habitat for it here. Of course, I would prefer if it lived just a little bit further away from my house…

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History Mystery

Help! I have a cool, rusty metal object and I don’t know what it is. It is about 6″ long with a hole at each end and near the center (slightly offset) is a section that pulls out about half an inch. I discovered this object in a shallow ravine not far from a rusty old bedspring and what looked like an axle from a car.

I’m fairly certain that this was an old dump from an early homesteader. I’m basing that on the fragments of sun-colored-amethyst glass (manufactured primarily from the 1880s through the 1910s) that I found nearby.

Is it perhaps some kind of handle? Since my memory doesn’t stretch back that far I thought I’d ask for suggestions. Any ideas?

My Magic Rabbit

I believe I have finally solved the enigma of why magicians are always pulling rabbits out of hats – because rabbits are always getting into things! As proof I offer Exhibit A, a Desert Cottontail in my front yard. Here the rabbit is nibbling on the rusty metal – iron deficiency perhaps? Note the position of the spout.

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And then the rabbit crawled inside. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it! The rabbit had a good time rolling the container from side to side (look where the spout is now).

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I was beginning to worry that this was turning into a rescue situation…

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But then, abracadabra, the rabbit popped back out.

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Never a dull moment in my little corner of the beautiful Sonoran Desert!

Landscaping Help…

I have a family of Harris’s Antelope Squirrels (Ammospermophilus harrisii) at my house. I enjoy watching them as they scamper, bounce, and climb their way through my front yard. They seem to appreciate that I’ve worked hard over the past 7 years to re-vegetate the area with native plants.¬†They are quite comfortable here – finding all the food, shelter, and water that they need.

In return for providing these basic necessities they give me free tree and bush trimming, soil aeration, and other landscaping help. The recent monsoon soaking revealed another of their free services – tree planting. Apparently, they have been busy squirreling away caches of palo verde seeds in my garden paths. Their food storage plan didn’t work so well since the seeds have now sprouted in thick clumps. Judging from the number of mini-forests, they’ve been busy little buggers!

 

 

 

One of These Things…

I know this situation isn’t an exact match but I now have that Sesame Street song “One of these things” in my head because of this photo from my front yard.

“One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong…”

Since I know the scale is difficult to discern, you should know that this bush is roughly 4 feet tall.

This creative feeding behavior will only be exacerbated since Southern Arizona is at least a month away from any rainfall. But I honestly don’t mind, I added many different plants to my yard in order to provide food and habitat. Besides, they are adorable!

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