Snakes and Ponds

Diamond Back Water Snake

Diamond Back Water Snake

I went out to check on the ponds the other evening as it was growing dark. That is really the only time I can see into the water with my strong flashlight as during the day, unless the sun is shining directly on the water, the depth of the water and the dark pond liner make it almost impossible to see down more than a foot or so. I generally wait until it is dark and then I can usually see quite a bit.

Sometimes I see more than I want to like the other evening. I was looking in the double pond which at two feet, is the shallowest of all of the ponds. I recently moved all of the very large Koi out of this pond and divided them into the other two ponds because they had outgrown the shallowness and were very reluctant to move around, spending a lot of time in one corner. In their place, I had put in some rescue goldfish along with the  7-8 small Koi that somehow, the larger ones had produced in one of their few moments of activity. All together about 22 fish.

As I flashed the light into the water, I did not immediately see any fish but what I did see was this pretty big snake, probably around 3 feet, swimming around in the water. What surprised me was that it was actually swimming under the water and not like most snakes that stay on the top with their heads sticking out. It did not hang around and disappeared under the cover of the pond plants. I thought about the small fish in the pond but we are all dealing with Mother Nature and her sometimes dramatic way of showing us that we are not in charge. I hoped that the fish would be safe but as I was not about to go after the snake, it was going to be a game of chance.

I went out two or three more times that evening but did not see the snake anymore. The same was true of the next couple of evenings and so I had no idea if it was still around. The fish did not show any outward signs of agitation and were still acting just the same as before the snake appeared so it did not appear that the snake was interested in the fish.

Yesterday, when I was walking around, I found a complete snake-skin by the edge of the pond and I can only assume that the original snake has shed it. I was a bit slow and should have taken a picture of the skin but for once, my photo brain was not working.

Today, I was working on one of the filters next to the pond and had a lot of time to view the fish in that pond and there appear to be just as many as I originally had. I haven’t seen any more trace of the snake which is not to say that it has gone. I do know that when I get into that pond which I have to do in the very near future, I plan on wearing my waders and elbow length gloves and maybe my 9 mil Glock. Wait, maybe not the Glock as I would probably blow a hole in the liner. Besides, that it going a bit too far.

Grass Snake in water

Grass Snake in water

Research shows that it was probably a Diamond Back Water Snake and they are non-poisonous. At least, that is the best I could tell from my 15 second viewing before it disappeared. In my 25 years of Ponding,  this is the first snake I have seen actually in the water on purpose. I have had others but mainly they have taken to the water either because of the dogs or more likely, because of me and none of them stayed around. By the way, I do not kill the snakes as they are very beneficial especially for catching the rats that inhabit my ponds. I usually either steer them away into the woods behind my yard or if I absolutely have to, I catch them and physically move them. So far, I have not seen any poisonous snakes in my yard and I hope it stays that way. I was working on the bog today and decided to poke around to see if the snake is still there. As far as I could tell after stirring things up pretty good, there is no sign of the it, thank goodness.

Another interesting event that I reported a couple of years ago. was the discovery by Richie, my inquisitive dachshund, of a large tree snake. This may well be the same one that he had a run in with the year before which I written about in an earlier blog. Luckily, I am beginning to recognize some of his barks and can tell the squirrel barks or the buzzard barks. This one had a note of real panic and concern which got me over to him pretty quick. Again, the tree snakes at first glance do resemble the markings of a rattlesnake. I moved the dogs indoors whilst I dealt with this intruder.

The wood-snake that Richie found

The wood-snake that Richie found

So, armed with a camera I went back and given more time, was able to determine that this snake was harmless. I took a few pictures and made sure that it left the property by slithering under the fence before letting the dogs back out. Richie was straight back to the spot he first encountered the snake and was most disappointed that it was gone. Nothing left to kick up a fuss over. By the way, this snake was all of 6 feet long.

Interesting to note that in all of the miles of hiking I have covered, I have only seen one snake on the trail and this was a grass snake which quickly slid out-of-the-way.

I don’t know what it is about humans and snakes. Maybe it’s because we generally don’t see them until the last-minute or maybe its an inherent fear of things that slither along. Or maybe, they are the things that nightmares are made of. Who knows.


5 thoughts on “Snakes and Ponds

  1. I thought when I kept finding coral snakes in the pool filter that they’d accidentally fallen into the pool and couldn’t get out. But then we pulled a large water lily out of one of the ponds to do some work and a big coral snake was curled up in the roots of the lily a very few inches from our hands on the pot! And then I went out to our small, shallow pond to sit in the sun and enjoy the water falling and saw a tiny coral snake deliberately enter the water, submerge and disappear completely into a crevice in the rocks below the water. I didn’t know snakes could breathe underwater unless they were water snakes, but this is now four coral snakes who’ve visited my water features so I think they know better than I do.

  2. Wow. Your snakes in the pond photos are impressive! I can say I have come along way with venomous rattlesnakes. My son studied them in grad school (not his choice) and kept some in an aquarium in his apartment. I have learned not to fear them as much as I used to, and now take their photos when I see them. I did a post on “Driving in Cars with Rattlesnakes,” about when we let his tagged snakes go. Still they provoke in me an instaneous shudder as did your photos of this apparently non-venomous variety. The coral snake comment above got my attention. Our Southern Pacific Rattlers are evolving. They climb trees now and their venom is increasing in toxicity.

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