X is for eXciting!

Yes, we’re poking at our letters today, but our little snake is an Xciting sight for some humans and is twisted into just the right shape!

For all the excitement a snake popping up in the garden causes, the ring-necked snake is one you can flick your tail at. It rarely gets over pencil-sized, and can easily be identified by the yellow to orange ring around the neck, or if you have scared it, the yellow-orange underbelly, as it tried to flash you nature’s warning color and chase you off.

And what do they eat, we would like you to ask? Slugs–every gardener’s bane–earthworms and salamanders.

E is for Eastern Painted Turtle

The warm, sunny days of spring have brought up the Eastern Painted Turtles from their hibernation in the pond mud. Even if it cools down again–like it has here in Virginia–the turtles will be okay. They have a anti-freeze-like blood that sees them through these temperature changes.

What better ‘E’ wildlife to feature on our normal ‘water’ day, Thirsty Thursday!

 

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

We have a garden resident who has slowed down in the cool weather.

mystery #168

Many of you probably recognize this fellow, but if you’re a little hazy on your identification, throw a guess into the comments section.

I’ll be back later with the correct answer.

~~~

Yes, we had a correct guess today! The Eastern Garter Snake is very common in our suburban neighborhoods, but we wish more appreciated! This little snake is harmless and does so much to keep down mice, voles and even slugs. We won’t mention that the larger ones sometimes try to get into squirrel and chipmunk nests. Darn things.

eastern-garter-snake

This is an easy snake to recognize because it has two stripes running the length of its body. These white to yellow stripes make it hard for an enemy to tell the garter snake is moving, and–bam!–it’s gone before you know it!. The body color on garter snakes is splotchy and ranges from tan to brown to green. This makes them harder to see in the dappled sunlight on grass, mulch or the forest floor. They can swim and like to to catch fish and frogs. They can climb trees and like to eat baby birds.

No wonder this snake is so common–it eats about anything!

The birds aren’t the only ones hatching!

Baby Eastern Box Turtle

How about that! This baby turtle popped sideways out of the grass while a human was mowing the lawn–maybe it was his first exposure to those big machines!  Well, we squirrels jump, too, but this Eastern Box Turtle is less than two inches long. That’s small to be moving from a mower.

Many thanks to our friend, Irene, for sharing this photo and seeing the little turtle safely on his way!

Just in case you human readers find such a small turtle and think it’d be fun to keep it for a bit, keep this in mind: Hickory and I have noticed they snap at food continuously–food we squirrels can’t even see. You got it: little bitty bugs, teeny slugs and minuscule worms. Baby turtles eat so many critters–yes, when they are young Box Turtles are carnivores–that a squirrel couldn’t keep up with with feeding one from dawn to dusk, let alone a human.

Five-lined Skink

Everyone was out catching the sun rays this week, including one of our most common lizards, the Five-lined Skink.

Five-lined skink

But we have to ask, how ofter do our human readers see these reptiles? Not as often as  snakes, we hazard a guess. Even we squirrels don’t see them too often, but that might be because we spend so much time above ground scampering from tree limb, to deck railing to fence. It’s far safer! Though they can climb, skinks spend most of their time close to the ground, filling themselves on insects–beetles, crickets and grasshoppers–plus other ground critters like snails,  slugs, earthworms and spiders.

Bet a lot of you homeowners just decided a skink might be a bit of wildlife you’d like to have around protecting your garden!