Cinco de Mayo, Cinco de Culebra

Today is Cinco de Mayo. As usual, up with the morning sun, I step out on my south porch to gather up some cracked corn to take out for the birds. I give my usual yodel which attracts a mob of quail and some scrub jays and a couple of courting brown towhees. My 15 ½ year old Llewelyn setter, deaf and almost blind, stumbles by me. The overwinter migrating white crowned and golden crowned sparrows are just departed.

As I scatter my “scratch” I notice my dog pointing by a nearby bush. This is unusual because she usually likes to come in front of me, with her exciting action of “being in the way” of my thrown scattering.

I go over to the bush. My dog has not lost her sense of smell. In front of her, a juvenile rattlesnake.

I live in what I call the Putah Savanna, for the named Putah Creek that passes nearby. My forty acres is a wildlife paradise and neither my dog or I get excited about having these snakes around, they are not aggressive, and their venom is on the lower toxicity side of other bigger and more dangerous rattlesnakes. The pacific rattlesnake is the only type in our area, and dog or human, you are not going to die if bitten.

To get back to Cinco de Mayo, early May is the month of both breeding and often of birthing, always of snake seeing. The most rattlesnakes I have seen in any day is three, thus a three-rattlesnake day.

Except for one time of five rattlesnake sightings, several years ago, on May day number five. Yes, Cinco de Mayo.

I had spotted a large female rattlesnake under a board by my garden a couple of days earlier, fat and without a rattle, evidently bitten off by some critter long ago, possibly a hawk when she was a baby. A few days later on Cinco de Mayo, she appeared under a side porch, with four babies crawling and searching all around her. My fifth day of the fifth month and five rattlesnakes. Right on!

King snake in drivewayKing snake found in our front driveway.
This species is known as the enemy of the rattlesnake.

A follow up. Rattlesnakes are one of the species of snakes that give live birth. Those babies stayed around their guardian for 4 days, quite active but not roaming too far, then all disappeared. I had always thought that birthing was followed by immediate separation, apparently not.

 

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