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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Encounter with a "Cobra"

Texas purple sage is blooming all over the place.  The weatherman said it's because of the 1-1/2 inches of rain we got two weeks ago.  At least something is thriving. We really need some rain around here.
Purple sage is blooming in our yard.

Because of the drought, the population of frogs in our pond is way down from last year.   I hear them singing at night but don't see them during the day anymore.  Maybe they're wisely hanging out in the shade or just staying underwater.  We have toads, too.  One of them likes to sneak into the dog's water bowl at night and sit there soaking.  It becomes his own private little jacuzzi.  When I flip on the patio light, he hunkers down in the water, as if that makes him invisible.  My old dog Muffin can't see very well, so she goes right up to the bowl and starts trying to lap up water.  The toad scrambles up the side of the bowl and hangs there while Muffin stares at it, surprised.  Then he hops away to safety under a nearby cabinet, but he takes his time getting there.   

Toads don't have a very good defense system.  Even in broad daylight, they seem to rely on hoping you won't notice them if they stay very, very still.  Plenty of time for a critter to walk up and have a snack.  Except they don't taste good.  If something grabs them, their skin oozes a foul tasting substance.  Dogs seem to remember that and leave them alone.  

Another possible reason for the decline in the frog and toad population is that we have snakes in the yard.  I encountered one the other day.  Cooper was barking and lunging at something under a bush, and I peeked under to see what it was.  I saw a large bodied snake, coiled up and hissing, and looking for all the world like a cobra, with the flattened out neck and all.  My first thought was, "Oh, my God, somebody's pet cobra got loose!" 
Cooper, age 13, is still a relentless predator.   She will
 attack anything with four legs, or even no legs, like a snake.

Yes, a cobra would make a strange pet, but people do things like that.  I hustled the dogs into the house.  Then I ran to get the camera so I could get a picture of it and look it up on the internet.  Before heading back outside, I pulled on a pair of cowboy boots, just in case the snake decided to strike.  It made a fetching combination with my knee-length nightie. 

But by the time I got back outside the snake had high-tailed it.  I couldn't find him.  I did some research on the internet anyway and decided it must have been a king snake.  Turns out a lot of harmless snakes do the cobra impression. 

The next day my neighbor Susan mentioned that she and her husband had found three hog-nosed snakes in their yard in recent days.  "They coil up and hiss and look like cobras," she said.  She also mentioned that her husband had "relocated" them, that is, he ushered them off their property with a broom.  Maybe one of those evicted snakes made his way over here.  Animals have a way of finding water. 

I don't wish the snake any harm.  Even poisonous snakes have a place in the ecosystem.  I just hope he isn't dining on my frogs and toads. 

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