snakey summer

We have become accustomed to sharing our summer garden with tiger snakes, they have the perfect home around the pond and they have been very polite lodgers. Last year Michael had reconfigured the ponds and surrounding rocks and plants and, apart from a brief visit to check out the new design, no-one actually moved in. Our latest resident appeared early in the summer, curled up in a favourite spot to capture the morning sun.

The weather has been unseasonal this year, with a very wet and mild November making the process of warming up quite difficult. Tasmanian tiger snakes are darker than their mainland cousins in order to absorb more heat but there is still a need to flatten out and speed up the process.

The rocks hold their warmth, a great place to stretch in the sun

until it gets too hot and then there is a shady grevillea to retreat to.

Being extremely vulnerable while shedding their skin, snakes are usually discreet about it. We were very surprised when we came in from gardening to find she had done so out in the open.

After a while, she changed her morning sunning spot, perhaps realising it warmed up earlier than her usual position.

One morning we found her completely out of her comfort zone and wondered if she had been caught unawares the previous evening as the temperature can drop quickly once the sun starts its descent. She flattened out on the stones for a while

and finally made her way, very slowly, to her usual place under the box hedge.

Her home was actually in the rocks, we would see her go to bed each night around 5.30pm (no, we didn’t read her a bedtime story).

A few of weeks ago, we noticed she was looking dull, she was quite restless and her eyes were cloudy, a sure sign another skin shedding was imminent.

We kept a close eye on her movements and the camera within reach in the hope of witnessing and filming the shedding experience. It wasn’t to be, our last vision of her was in her tired, old skin and we haven’t seen her now for three weeks.

Hopefully, she has taken her shiny new self out to the forest to find a mate. Maybe she will return next year?

snooping snake

After a long cold winter, our resident reptiles have been enjoying the summer sunshine. Once the weather warms up, we become more vigilant around the garden and when walking Poppy in the forest. We recently had a visitor waiting at the door when I returned from work. She moved off as I approached and I encouraged her direction of retreat to the other side of the house. We met again about an hour later on my way back from the veggie patch, she promptly sought sanctuary under the box hedge by the front door. Poppy and I went inside but I kept an eye out at to see where our guest would go next. Expecting to see her at ground level as she emerged from the hedge, I was surprised to see something atop a bush four metres away.

1.snake atop bush

Once my heart restarted, I snapped a couple of pics with my phone. Usually, the small birds alert us to the presence of a snake, staying well out of the way and making lots of noise. The blue wren next to the bush didn’t seem to be aware at all.

2.waiting for the birds

I raced inside to grab the camera and when I returned, the snake was no longer on the bush. Scanning the garden, a blasphemous expletive escaped my lips as I saw her on the box hedge right outside the window.

3.on box hedge

I don’t know if she was admiring our new renovations but she obviously wanted a closer look because she crossed open space, mid-air, to a pot plant nearer the window.

4.on box hedge5.crossing to pot plant6.crossing to pot plant

At this point, the camera peeked outside – I didn’t.

7.in pot plant

She then dropped to the ground and headed toward the pond, possibly in search of a tasty frog or two.

8.still searching

I don’t think she found any, she came back to the window.

9.coming back10.coming back

She may have seen her reflection as a mate or rival,

11.up close

or maybe she could see me and the glint off the camera.

12.can she see me?

I’m referring to her as a female because she wasn’t as big as some and her head isn’t that distinctive diamond shape of the males with the wide jaw.

13.can she see her reflection?

I could be wrong. It’s easy to see from the markings why they are called tiger snakes.

14.fabulous markings

Is that a smile?

15.is that a smile?

She finally got bored and moved off, hopefully to find what she was looking for.

If you would like to watch the video of this encounter, here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9PSWwWqijw&feature=youtu.be

By the way, in our experience, this is not the usual behaviour of tiger snakes. They are timid creatures and will retreat very quickly in human presence. Yes, they are deadly but only if they bite. People get bitten when they are trying to kill, catch or corner them. We prefer to live and let live and anyway,  they are protected in Tasmania.