Friday, February 23, 2018

Making love in bamboo

I was heading down our unpaved road on the way to town.  It's a bumpy road. I was going slow. To my right is an 80-acre forest slated to become a subdivision. To my left are a few of our rental homes on large lots surrounded by bamboo. Something in one stand of Bambusa multiplex caught my eye.  I slowed to a stop then backed up for a closer view.

Two snakes were entwined in the 'boo.  At least I thought that's what I saw.  It was hard to tell from inside the car so I grabbed my camera and got out for a closer look.

Yes!  Definitely snakes! (I love snakes) Two black racer snakes were entwined in a tangle of love.  Reptilian whoopee in a clump of bamboo.

Snakes watching me watch them

Although this was the first time I spotted two black racers mating, I've seen racers many times before. Southern black racers (Coluber constrictor) are the snakes I see most often in the garden and around the house. Harmless to people but deadly to rodents, birds, lizards, other snakes, frogs, toads and insects, I consider black racers to be an essential part of nature's arsenal.  Pest control at its most basic level.

Black racers in an amorous embrace

This slender reptile can grown up to 6 feet long with a solid black upper side, a dark gray to black belly, white chin, white throat and brown eyes.

Entwined in the 'boo

Male racers become sexually mature on or slightly before their second year but females take a year or two longer to reach sexual maturity. After mating, a female may lay up to 30 eggs that hatch about 3 months later. When they do, the 6-inch-long babies are fully prepared to hunt and live on their own. That's good because after a week or so of guarding their newly laid eggs, the parents leave their future offspring to fend for themselves.

This is the view that caught my eye as I was driving down the road

Encountering two snakes mating was a completely new wildlife experience for me. While some people may shudder at the very thought of encountering two snakes mating (or, sadly, at seeing snakes at all), I reveled in the moment. The snakes obviously loved what they were doing.  I did too!

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