Excuse me, I was just leaving

July 5, 2011 at 11:42 pm 16 comments

I snapped a picture of this large fox snake a few minutes after I stepped over him on my way into the garage.

Even though (or maybe largely because) I’ve spent much of my life working outdoors in areas where poisonous snakes were fairly common, I like snakes. And the wooded bluffs of our property are ideal fox snake habitat (they’re also ideal habitat for ratsnakes and the rare massasauga rattler). So my reaction to unexpectedly stepping over a largish snake was to reach for a camera, not a shovel.

The fox snake is one of Minnesota’s largest snakes.  They eat small animals, birds, eggs, frogs, and lizards. Fox snakes belong to the rat snake group and kill their prey by constriction.

When fox snakes are harassed, they vibrate their tails and strike. Because of this and their superficial resemblance to rattlesnakes, they’re commonly killed by humans who don’t realize their importance in controlling rodent populations.

The largest fox snake on record was observed in the county where we live.

Because this snake is big enough to eat the chicks that should hatch out here in about a week, if I keep seeing him around I’ll catch him and relocate him to a chicken free coulee in the area.

Entry filed under: animals, minnesota, wildlife. Tags: .

Chuck’s day off The importance of being observant

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Luisa  |  July 6, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Niiiiccccce…! Great move with the camera. I jumped for mine when a coyote walked past the window today, but wasn’t quick enough to get him. Amazing how critters can disappear just. like. that.

    OMG, YouTube is a trove of angry snake vids.

    I’ve seen little gopher snakes killed here in Cali because people thought they were baby rattlers [sigh].

    [Link goes to my quail/rattler post, because Pam’s photos are ossum.]

  • 2. Dave  |  July 6, 2011 at 2:11 am

    In some part of the country, foxsnakes are protected. Or at least the Eastern Fox Snakes are in Ontario anyway.

    Although, we never had to worry about Bullsnakes and Great Basin Gophersnakes being slaughtered in British Columbia or Alberta because the Prairie Rattlesnakes are protected in Canada.

    Nice photo though! One just don’t see them very much these days, with most of the population living in cities and all.

  • 3. Ruth  |  July 6, 2011 at 7:55 am

    He might shake his tail, but there’s no rattle on it. If I came across one that size unexpectedly I’ll admit to a squeak and a jump, but then I’d probly say something along the lines of “oh cool, wheres my camera??

  • 4. SmartDogs  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Yeah, even though his tail was a blur the ‘rattling’ was silent, though he did make a couple of fairly impressive strikes. If it turns out that I need to relocate him I’ll have to put on my ‘move a vicious broody hen’ / ‘woman-handle a small bitey dog’ gear. Fox snakes aren’t protected in Minnesota and they’re fairly common in rural SE MN where I live.

    I did once find a Mississagua rattlesnake in the driveway. It was a cool morning and the snake was torpid so I very carefully picked it up with a hoe handle and took it down to the creek. Beautiful snake with a superficial resemblance to the fox and real rattles 😉

    Luisa – how have I missed Crow and Raven? The quail/rattler post and pics are indeed ossum!

  • 5. H. Houlahan  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I’ve saved many a milk snake — the most mild-mannered of snakes — from big brave firefighters and policemen who are hell-bent on murdering the “copperhead.”

    Who are also harmless if you leave them the hell alone.

    And people wonder why I hate dragging along J. Random Fireman on search tasks.

  • 6. Anne  |  July 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

    *gasp* Smartdogs- did you just refer to snakes as poisonous instead of venomous?! shame shame 🙂

    I’ve lived in MN all my life and never had the pleasure of seeing a Fox Snake

    We did have a really great Garter living in our front yard last summer (when our brother let the grass get too long). We saw him on and off for about 2 weeks, then he left after shedding his skin. Largest garter i’ve seen in a looong time

  • 7. SmartDogs  |  July 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Oops! No cookies for me.

  • 8. Ruth  |  July 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I’m sorry, this is totally off topic…..I’d swear it was your blog I read a post on a while back about some ear drops to clean the ears with….but of course now I can’t find the post. If it was here could you point me to the post (or the name of the ear drops)? at which point you can delete this comment if you want since its totally off topic!

  • 9. SmartDogs  |  July 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Given the eclectic nature of what I post, I’m not sure any nonspam comment should be considered off topic.

    The drops were Zymox Otic which comes in two types, with and without cortisone and the relevant post is here.

    The Zymox group of enzymatic products are wonderful stuff.

  • 10. Ruth  |  July 9, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Awesome thanks. The puppy is not apprecitive of having his ear’s cleaned (we’re working on it) so untill I can work him to the point of dealing with it I gotta do something….

  • 11. Anne  |  July 12, 2011 at 11:03 am

    i’m intrigued by the Zymox Otic- do i have to get that somewhere special (ie: online), or would like Chuck and Don’s (or Petsmart) carry it?

  • 12. SmartDogs  |  July 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I live in Podunkville so I’m probably the wrong person to ask. Our local C&D doesn’t carry it and the big boxes are all about an hour away so I get it at KV Supply.

  • 13. Anne  |  July 12, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    roger that

  • 14. Ruth  |  July 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    My local petmart and petco don’t have it, and its not on their websites, but I’ve found it online in several places including Amazon if that helps.

  • 15. Toby Jon  |  July 25, 2011 at 1:04 am

    wow..that’s is a huge snake. Do they attack cats and dogs?

  • 16. Brian Watson  |  August 2, 2011 at 9:35 am

    The fox snake is very large snake with large dark spots. It has been found near the St. Croix, Mississippi, and Minnesota rivers. It don’t look like a fox but when bothered or frightened it secretes a musky odor similar to that of a red fox.

    It dont have rattles but does shake its tail and makes a sound like a rattle snake and hisses when threatened.

    ox snake can make a rattly sound when it shakes its tail. It also may hiss when threatened.

    They lay about 10 to 20 eggs in late spring. Newly hatched they are 8 to 12 inches long.

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