Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pregnant Squirrels, Dragonflies and Snakes

One of the younger female squirrels is pregnant. She is good-sized, but I can tell she is young. She is also very far along. Either that, or she is expecting four babies instead of two. The older female who lives in the back yard usually has twins a couple times a year. This female is very friendly. Her belly is a creamy velvet. Sometimes when she's eating seeds, she'll stop, sprawl, and let her belly rest on the cool glass of the patio table. I'm very careful to clean the food and water dishes for the creatures and I use only filtered or spring water in their water dishes, though they still drink from the ponds. Nevertheless, she eats well, and often, seems very strong, and I think she will have healthy babies.

I am excited for her. Her belly appears to have dropped over the past two days. I'm not sure if it works the same way with squirrels as it does with humans, but this could be an indicator that she is getting close to her delivery time. They generally mate in May/June and carry the babies 44 days, so it does seem right that she would be close to her due date. She is beautiful. She has that glow that pregnant creatures tend to have.

I spent the morning photographing a large, red dragonfly with her reproductive ritual, as well. She was dropping eggs into the pond. She would stop when the winds picked up and cling to the arm of the chair or a nearby branch. I took many pictures. At one point, she flew off to chase away another dragonfly, then flew right back to where I was taking pictures and when I leaned closer to get a better picture of her, she leaned closer to me!

I woke up this morning and glanced out the window to see a snake in the pond. I grabbed my camera and ran outside and it swam up under a log I set up for shade for the creatures. The snake let me take quite a few pictures. It stuck its tongue out at me a couple of times. They use their tongues as sensors, almost like a nose, to see if what they're facing is a threat, food, or a female snake. Obviously, I wasn't any of these things, so the snake just sat for awhile while I took pictures. It was a checkered garter. It may be Checkers, the garter snake that lived in the rosemaries on the side of the house last year. He's quite a bit bigger, but that would make sense.

I have been following the life and adventures of a golden silk orb weaver I named Alice, videotaping as she built her web and captured her prey and posting her picture on Facebook. I woke up this morning and noticed she had disappeared and her beautiful, three part web was completely destroyed. My husband thinks her web was destroyed by the fierce rainstorms we had last night, but if this was the case, she would have rebuilt. I think she was eaten by a bird, or mud dauber. While I was searching for her, I noticed a mud dauber fly in behind what remained of her web and crawl beneath the ivy. Mud daubers will kill very large spiders, carry them to their houses and stuff the spiders inside. Miss Alice was a very large spider, though. I do hope she's okay.

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