In a good monsoon season monster storms roll in packing high winds, lightning and absolute torrents of rain. Monsoon season is also exciting because wild critters show up in the strangest places.
Last week Marc found this colorful little snake swimming in the pool. It was a bit out of place there, because this is a ground snake (Sonora semiannulata). Small and glossy, these snakes grow to be only 19 inches long. Ground snakes come in a wide variety of colorings and markings, and are found in a wide variety of habitats, including Phoenix metropolitan neighborhoods according to Thomas C. Brennan of Reptilesofaz.org.
Desert species of ground snakes are nocturnal during the hot months of the year, so again it’s hard to say why this snake was in the pool in the afternoon. He should have been napping in a cool burrow waiting for nighttime, hunting time. Ground snakes prey on insects, spiders, scorpions and lizards, all plentiful around here in the summer.
Even more out of place was the tiny, and I mean tiny, ground snake the cats found in the house last evening. Boo and Bandit are pretty useless as far as ferreting out spiders and scorpions inside, although they do get motivated by moths. But the boys were beside themselves over this writhing little snake, and I had to push them out of the way to get a better look. At first I thought they had cornered a centipede.
The snake was no more than four inches long and about as big around as a piece of cooked spaghetti, but it was clearly orange with black bands, just like the snake pictured in the pool net.
Audubon’s Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians states that male ground snakes fight for the right to mate a comely female. They mate in both spring and fall and females lay clutches of up to six eggs. It takes 7-10 weeks before the snakes hatch out, just 4-5 inches long. Our monsoon visitor must have been brand new. Who knows how it ended up inside the house; Marc scooped it up and put it out where it belonged.
When I came into the kitchen this morning both cats were sitting in front of the refrigerator staring into the black space underneath. “Now what?!”
We pulled the fridge away from the wall, but found nothing lurking to surprise u