Crawling King Snake

Sonoma County has been buying old quarries and converting them into recreation ponds for fishing and boating, with surrounding trails going from Santa Rosa to the ocean.  We were running on such a trail, with Skipper the Jack Russell terrier running ahead of us, when I noticed a snake crossing the path about thirty yards up.  “Look,” I said to Shannon.  Skip ran on oblivious and nearly tripped over it.  He jumped back a couple of feet and waited until we caught up, laughing at his un-canine behaviour.

“It’s a king snake,” said Shannon.  “Awesome!”  It was about four feet long, with brown and white stripes.  It rolled into a hypnotically winding coil and began to shake its tail, adopting a strike posture with its head.  Skip looked on, panting — wary but curious.

“You’re sure it’s not a rattler?” I asked.  “It’s shaking its tail.”

“They do that to make you think they’re rattlesnakes,” she said.  “They’re not venomous.”  I moved in for a closer look — sure enough, it had none of the telltale loose ‘rattle’ of skin on its tail.  “You never see them that big,” she said.  “Normally they get run over long before they get to this size.”  She bent down to touch it.  “In Native American lore they signify transformation and healing.”

As soon as Shannon touched it, the snake seemed to know that its ruse was over.  It unwound and continued on its way, and we went ours.


One Response to Crawling King Snake

  1. […] I wonder about my apparent propensity to see a lot of wildlife – I’m becoming known for it in Shannon’s circle of friends – and whether it’s being in California.  However, running on Tooting Bec Common in broad daylight two or three months ago I had to side-step a stag beetle nearly two inches long as it crossed the path.  Stag beetles are an endangered species in Europe, and South London is thought to be the only major colony in the UK.  I guess what helps in spotting these creatures is to be out a lot, and to keep your eyes open.  But so far as the apparent fondness animals seem to have for me, I have no idea. See also Crawling King Snake […]

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