Snakes On A Compost

Ok, so it should be ‘in’ a compost. I couldn’t resist the movie nod however Samuel L Jackson’s tough guy is not required here.

Mr T was digging out the first compost bay and turning it in to the second whilst I was doing the day job. If something interesting crops up then he will always text me  a ‘look what I found’…’did you know’…’look what I made’… message.  You get the idea.

Mid July a few photos appeared. Something reptilian was lurking in the compost. Mr T had noticed lots of burrowed holes networking the bays which made sense when a beautiful  snake  was unearthed and quickly made a swift exit out of one bay and in to another.

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He had seen them last year but only briefly before they slithered away to their hiding places. Never enough time to shout for me so I could see them for myself. Was this one a grass snake or a slow worm?  (Oh, no need to help me out here. I know a slow worm is a lizard. I’m on it dear reader ; )

I’m not squeamish about snakes or reptiles in general. My 70s childhood is full of memories toddling after one tan and one black tortoise that patrolled our little garden drawing in the neighbours to giggle at their shell bashing shenanigans. When Leslie died and then Esme was stolen (grrr!) we purchased Marigold from the local pet shop. A handsome girl with a hot temper. She was one of the last spur tortoises imported for the British pet market. Of course, I am so glad they no longer do this but she has had a great life and continues to create mayhem and carnage in my parents garden. Toes must be protected from her determined nips on a hot day when she comes stealthily under the garden table. All visitors are duly warned.

My point to this walk down memory lane, is that I am rather at home with creatures of a scaly nature. Despite risking the neighbours whispering ‘that weird woman is staring at her compost again’ I do spend time down there in the sad hope I might cop a glance of old Natrix Natirx.

Another photo popped up.

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Last year I recall The Anxious Garden blogging about grass snake eggs in the compost. We didn’t find any in ours but this year has been altogether different. Mr T luckily uncovered these by a well placed dig of the spade which caused the compost to gently drop away exposing the clutch. No broken eggs, phew! Perhaps the snake that sped away was mum? Mr T made note of the position of the eggs in the bay and carefully moved them in to the same position in the next bay. There is, of course, a risk that exposing them to air temperatures and moving them will cause the eggs to fail but we can hope. Marigold laid eggs the summer she came to live with us. Perfectly round ping pong balls in her straw nest in the garden. With research we moved them to a sand box in the airing cupboard and with eagerness an eleven year old Miss T inspected them daily for a glimmer of baby tortoise that might arrive. A tiny shell could be seen developing inside one egg but sadly it wasn’t to be. No mini Marigolds appeared. I do hope this won’t be the outcome for our snakelets (neolate is just too sciency don’t you think?) and that they hatch to help the population continue since they are in a worrying decline.

Another photo arrived.

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What a beauty. I know many of you will have seen them too but I do find it thrilling to know that something so exotic is slithering around in our little patch.

The end note to this blog is how this snake sighting did bring about a little nervousness in the household of The Trug. Last year Mr T came across a snake in the compost which we guessed was a grass snake.  This year’s identification has made us certain that last year’s visitor was definitely an Adder. Sadly he wasn’t able to snap a shot of it before it disappeared but from now on a healthy dose of respect will be exercised when moving logs and various bits and bobs down there in the copse if Adders are making it their home.

Take care through that long grass. Who knows what you might come across…

Missss Trug

 

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