“Oh, hello there”

That’s exactly what I said when I spotted my photo subject, but let’s build the drama first. It’s project day, and I was doing various things out in the yard. Once finished, I had to hose out a wheelbarrow and my shovels, and took the frost guard off the spigot and reattached the hose, then cleaned off everything. Or so I thought [Dramatic music here for no reason at all.] Finding one more thing in need of cleaning, I bent down and grabbed the hose again, and saw some movement fairly close to my face.

Now, the temperature isn’t bad, being around 13°c – I’m working in a T-shirt, but expending a bit of effort and sniffling a little, and that’ll be the peak temperature for today while it’s been a lot colder at nights. So I figured we’d seen the last of my friend here for the season.

black rat snake Pantherophis obsoletus alert in coiled garden hose
That’s a black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus,) and not only the first I’ve seen on the property, it’s one of the very few snakes ever found here. I’m pleased, because they’re my favorite local species, both able to get to an impressive size and pretty mellow, despite the fact that my subject here wasn’t very happy with having been disturbed and is definitely in defensive mode. Big fat hairy deal, really – the bite of a black rat snake is harmless and pretty innocuous; I’ve had more damage done by thorn bushes.

Don’t think that I missed the similarity to the circumstances of the last one that I found, less than a month ago (but the weather hadn’t yet turned cold then.) And of all the places to spot one, this seemed odd by being exposed enough not to conserve body heat very well, and also not likely to produce any food, but far be it from me to question the lifestyle choices of serpents. My specimen here is likely a little less than a meter in length, by the way, and perhaps slightly thicker than my thumb at midbody.

Let’s do a longer shot so you can see how well it was hidden from sight.

coiled garden hose with black rat snake Pantherophis obsoletus nestled within
And bear in mind, I was firing off the flash to help illuminate the corner, which is semi-shaded.

I left the snake alone, mostly to rush inside to make a new post (still panting with excitement,) but also to encourage it to stay. I must add that The Girlfriend may not be as thrilled about this as I am.