Monday, July 27, 2009


I found one of the neatest little creatures slithering across my driveway this evening. I was watering the garden when I saw what looked like a silver worm move out of the dirt and onto the driveway. It was still over 100 degrees outside so naturally I felt compassion for this little creature, put down the water hose and walked over to see if he was okay. It is only about five inches long with a silvery-gray body, darker head and dark eyes. As it raised it's head to look at me, I realized I was looking into the eyes of the smallest snake I have ever seen!

I ran back to the house for my husband and my camera. When I returned, the snake had slithered beneath the truck. I crawled beneath the truck to take pictures, but he kept right on moving as if he wasn't the least bit bothered by my presence. He left the shadow of the truck and I once again worried for his safety since the pavement was even hotter than anything else around it.

My husband put a quarter down so we could make a size comparison in the picture you can see to the right. Then he put his finger down on the ground and the snake slithered up his finger and onto his hand. He seemed very happy on my husband's hand and sat quietly until I finished watering the garden, then my husband placed him back on the dirt and the snake slithered into a hole beneath a plant and disappeared.

Clint the Snake Man ( identified the little creature immediately as a flat-headed snake, tantilla gracilis, a nonvenomous snake that lives underground and is rarely seen. The snake can be many colors, including tan, brown and red, though this one was clearly a silvery-gray. It's distinguishing characteristic is the dark smudge on top of its head. They generally slither away in the opposite direction when approached, so I am even more surprised that this one moved right up my husband's finger and sat so long on his hand.

The largest a flat-headed snake will generally grow to be is ten inches. They are most often around eight inches, though this one was only about five. They are most active between March and October and generally found in forested areas, which makes sense as our house backs up to a forest. They usually lay one to four eggs in the spring, but their eggs don't hatch until September, which is a long time to wait. They lay the eggs under pieces of wood, so I now know I should be careful when digging in this area. The flat-headed snake eats grubs, ants, and scorpions, though I don't see how since it's such a tiny creature! What a wonderful gift from God to have in the garden!

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