Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Summer of Critters

    We have seen surprisingly few chipmunks this summer.  Surprising because we have several dry stacked rock wall on the property, and they make their dens/nest/home in these walls.  I think the cat next door has something to do with it. It is a very large and quite tenacious hunter.  I think the Basilisk has something to do with it, too.
     Basilisk?   a few weeks ago my daughter and youngest son called me to the garage to see the snake.  My expectation was another of the many slender, mild mannered garter snakes which also haunt the walls and gardens.  This was something else.  Slipping into the garage and trying to hide among the bicycle tires and rakes, was a very substantial snake.  At first I could not see the head, which made me quite cautious.  I am no herpetologist, so I could easily mistake a copperhead for a milk snake. My eldest son grabbed a stick for me, and I was able to coax this creature towards the garage entrance and driveway.  This animal was having none of it, however, and disappeared into a hole in the wall located behind the fire extinguisher.  I called it Nagini, and my daughter quickly pointed out that the basilisk was the snake in the walls at Hogwarts.  Silly me!
      I forgot to grab a camera, being more concerned at removing the snake from the garage (a detached garage, I am relieved to say).  However, earlier in the season we had the chance to watch and follow a large snapping turtle who traversed the side of our yard to get home.  We think, from the mud pattern on her shell, that she was laying her eggs. (If it was a boy - maybe it was staying cool?)  For this visitor, we did run to get the camera - plenty of time for that as she was slow and the side yard long and hilly. The turtle even got a name, "Snappy."

    Did I mention the garter snake who decided to come into the house?  This was a week or so after the Basilisk adventure.  It crawled in the back door where there is a gap at the bottom (have to fix that!) and curled around the point of an umbrella and under the shade of the rag towel that hangs by the door to dry off the dog if she's muddy.  This little guy just wanted a cool spot on one of the nasty hot days we'd been having, and it was easily convinced that staying inside with us would be much more trouble than it was worth!
     Add to this the new cat, the animals from the fair, and my daughter's foray into pet sitting and this has been quite an animal summer.    

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