Thursday, October 22, 2009

Snakebite!


This morning while pedaling along on a bike path adjacent to Honore Avenue I saw a Black Racer dash across the path in front of me. Maybe 100 feet further there was another Black Racer - only this one didn't dash so fast.

The second snake darted out of the vegetation at the side of the path and tried to cross directly in my path. When it did, I ran over the snake probably 1/4 of the way to its tail (I have never figured out where the body ends and tail begins on a snake). Regardless I ran over the snake. In the instant after I hit the snake it instinctively reached back to strike at whatever had just harmed it. In this case that would be me.

The snake bit me on the lower calf just above my left ankle. They have no fangs so it was just a slight bruise.

Because the snake stopped its movement long enough to bite me it was still in position to be run over again by my rear tire. And that is what happened.

Now feeling guilty, I got off my bike and went to check on the snake to make sure it was o.k. When I approached it, the snake darted off into the vegetation and I didn't see it again. I assume it was o.k. because it didn't stick around to answer questions.

The last time I was bitten by a snake was in June 1979 out in Lincoln County Nebraska. There I was collecting a plant to be added to the herbarium at the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. When I put my shovel in the earth to begin extracting the plant I inadvertently upset a Prairie Rattlesnake that I didn't see snoozing in the shade of the plant.

The rattlesnake bit me in the same calf as this Black Racer and when it did I swung the shovel around and decimated the snake. It was the only snake I have ever killed.

I'll have to keep an eye out tomorrow when I am biking to see if either of the Black Racer's had returned to that bike path. I'll just have to make sure I don't run over any of them this time.

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