Henhouse Surprise

[Warning:  Reptiles Ahead.  For those of you who are herpetologically challenged (that’s you, Mom), I will not put my best picture at the start of this post.  I will kind of ease into it.  Hopefully the picture won’t show up in the WordPress Reader and you can skip this whole post and come back on another day.]

I went up to the chicken coop in the evening, to give the chickens fresh water.  I noticed that they were quietly roosting on their outdoor perches an hour before dark, when usually they would still be roaming the ground and clucking.  So I alertly checked the coop area before popping open the doors to the nest boxes.  And there on the coop floor was Mr. Snake, who did a double-take when he saw me (“What is she doing up here at this hour?  I thought I would have the place to myself!”)  and then tried very hard to camouflage himself as an integral part of the coop (“OK, all I have to do is just act like a board, and she’ll never even notice me…”)

That didn’t work and I hollered for my husband to bring the camera.  We got several good pictures of this lovely Texas rat snake before opening the other door to the coop to chase him out.

slithering away

He got 2 big eggs and a banty egg!

four-foot snake

This is blurry but you can see how long he is.

Rat snakes aren’t venomous, but they are a little disconcerting because they are great climbers.  I have seen one here at the farm (maybe the same one) at the second story level on a pine tree, being attacked to no avail by blue jays, mockingbirds, and woodpeckers all together.  He (or she) had probably cleared out a few of their nests.

They also can sense heat and will drop onto anything warm, not stopping to figure out if it is actually prey-size.  At the historic park where I used to work, we sometimes had a very small rat snake find its way into a mostly unused ladies’  restroom, climb up into the rafters, and catch some poor unsuspecting tourist off-guard.

I’m not afraid of snakes, but I don’t want one to get the drop on me, so I will be reinforcing my chicken coop this week!

OK, here is the best pic.  Look at the colors on those scales!

Texas rat snake

He was as surprised as I was.