Hickory and I were playing chase and leap through the natural area the other day and found a great dead tree to scamper over. As we got to a rotten part the last storm had broken open, Hickory suddenly froze. He backed up, turned and ran right into me.

“Geez. What’s up with you?” I asked.

He ran past me. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Why? Is it an owl?” I asked as I ran with him.

“No, worse. A snake.”

I stopped. “A big one?”

He turned around and shrugged. “Didn’t see.”

“You didn’t see? Then I’m gonna go look.”

You may think I was really brave, but I did go up a nearby tree and out on a limb to look. I got a good view—of a little garter snake sunning on the warm wood.

But better than that, I got to tease Hickory all the way home. Garter snakes are perfectly harmless, especially to an animal as big as we are. The may eat mice, along with a good many worms and salamanders, but they rarely get big enough to eat even a kit squirrel.


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