"This whole world is wild at heart, and weird on top."
The things you pick up as you go.
Going along with the last post, I realized I completely forgot to tell y’all the great story about how I spontaneously lost 5 years of my life and 10 pounds last week.
While visiting a friend, we went down to the Hudson to sun-bathe for a little bit at Bard’s Rock, on the Vanderbilt estate. (Yes, THAT Vanderbilt estate.) Of course, being the nature girl that I am, I can’t see rocks and not want to crawl all over them. Just like it can’t be a sunny day in the 90s and I can’t be near a body of water without wanting to get at LEAST my feet wet.
So up and over and down the rocks I went, making my way down until I got to the water line, and selecting a nice, rectangular rock that the waves were breaking on and splashing up and over to step out on to. It was slick with river mud, and it took me a minute to find my footing. While I was doing so, I was looking down, trying to find my next step down, into the water, when up popped this not-so-little head.
It was a snake. I didn’t make a sound. Be impressed.
At first, the way it was moving, I thought it was dead, and was washing up against the rocks in the tide, but as I leaned forward to get a closer look at it, it distinctly reared further up from the water and leaned in closer TO ME, exposing it’s long black body and creamy belly scales. Decidedly NOT. DEAD.
Now, what is the thing about water snakes that most people think of first?
"Most are poisonous."
Being the snake enthusiast that I am, I ran through my quick “Am I about to regret this deeply as I’m rushed to the ER?” checklist. It had a spade-shaped head. Not good. It had a clearly delineated neck— most harmless snakes have no clear difference in shape between head and body— also not good. And I knew there are copperheads in the southern Hudson river valley, where I was. So I backed away away— NOT quickly; snakes will go for fleeing targets— smoothly and calmly, (I would like to know if you could have done the same with a large, 5-foot snake two feet away from you seeming to consider if it wanted to play King of the Rock with you,) and got the FUCK out of there.
It wanted that rock for sunning more than I did.
After scrambling BACK over the rocks and babbling to Alli about what had just happened, we got a few shots of it from the TOP of Bard’s Rock to bring home for comparison. It ended up being not, as we feared, a water moccasin, but a northern water snake. But the story does not end here, because this is what New York’s wildlife department has to say about this particular snake:
"This species is frequently called or mistaken for a cottonmouth (water moccasin); this latter species is a large venomous snake that does not occur within our state borders. This confusion is understandable as our water snake is certainly an aggressive species with a nasty disposition and it does bear a superficial resemblance to the cottonmouth.”
Which is why I’m really thankful that that rather large (read: freakishly huge and probably longer than me) guy decided to announce his presence by popping up to say a friendly “what the fuck” before I STEPPED ON HIM.
Fun fact: While not poisonous, their bite releases an anti-coagulant that makes you BLEED like a mother fucker.
Reason #567 why I’m glad I’m a fan of snakes and they’re a fan of me. Now, someone please go get me a piebald ball python to cuddle and soothe me.