March 22, 2010: Critters

I know this is a bit off topic for a kitchen garden post, but Rebecca and I have been discussing snakes, and she wanted to see the King snake that paid us a visit one evening.

It was our first year in our Arizona home. We had stayed until mid June, painting and fixing up the place for a winter residence. We were sitting on our front porch, enjoying the coolness that is so elusive on an early summer evening, when I happened to notice a slight movement of something slithering up the porch steps. A moment later a 5 or 6-foot long snake was heading toward our seating area. I immediately recognized it as being a non-poisonous variety, and jumped up to go inside for my camera. Mr. H, who was oblivious to what was happening, said "Where are you going?", to which I replied "Snake!" My, I've never seen that man move so fast.

I did get my camera, and followed the snake for a while.

A Red Spotted Toad was another visitor to our Arizona front porch.

Then there was the tarantula that wandered down our driveway one day. I caught her in a great big jar, just long enough to get some photos, then let her go.

You can see that if she could spread out she'd be as large or larger than a CD case, and more than a handful for me!

Back in 2004, my daughter and son-in-law were managing a mobile home park in the Washington town where I live. One day, Bryan noticed a very distressed skunk with her head stuck in a mayonnaise jar. He called the Humane Society, and they told him they wouldn't come to the rescue, to just kill it. Of course, there's no way he could kill that poor animal....

He grabbed a table top from the patio....

With the table top between him and the skunk, he herded her toward the chain link fence.

Once he got her to the fence, Bryan turned the table top so the jar was wedged between it and the fence, which allowed the skunk to back her head out of the jar. She ambled away, without even a spray, and Bryan stashed the jar in the trash so it wouldn't endanger any other animals.


  1. way to go bryan! i love animal rescue stories. what a kind man to help that poor skunk! (clever too to think of using the fence to help!)thanks for sharing, granny!=)

  2. That is one brave, brave man!!! I hope you had plenty of tomato juice stashed just in case.

    No rogue animals here, but once a cow escaped from the farm up the road and was meandering through the neighborhood.

  3. Wow! That is definitely the scariest garden post I've ever seen..right up until the skunk part when it went all farcical! Awesome. I was okay for the snake and the frog..then the spider totally creeped me out..then the skunk cracked me up!

    I'm glad it ended well, that must have been one calm, even-tempered skunk! And what a brave, self-sacrificing son-in-law. Your daughter knows how to pick 'em.

  4. Well, that was a nice thing to do for the little skunk. Send those snakes to me, because I like playin' with 'em. heh.

  5. What an incredible story and outcome! It's a shame that the humane society would have to kill an animal for what is caused by human trash!

  6. What a lovely story, Annie. Your son-in-law was heroic, risking a nauseating spray to save that poor skunk!

    I'm in awe of that snake. It looks like something that would have been worshiped or used in rituals in Ancient Egypt; doesn't it?

  7. First off, Bryan is my hero. Skunks are actually quite sweet, and that poor thing needed a kind human like Bryan, not a shotgun!

    And that snake is GORGEOUS! I couldn't even look at the fuzzy arachnid, but boy was that snake a beauty. Thanks for sharing all the cool wildlife stuff Granny, keep it coming!

  8. Thanks for sharing pictures of your visitors, Granny. Bryan was very clever to use the table as both a shield and a wedge. The snake is gorgeous, but no thank you on that big hairy spider! When I was 5yo, my neighbors had a pet tarantula, and they put it in a mailbox then told me I had something in there--scared the @#%& out of me. Nope. I'm getting over my fear, but I still don't like 'em. Especially the hairy ones...

  9. Something tells me I would not like Arizona. I can just imagine waking up to the sight of snake snuggling next to me. YIKES!

    That was a very nice and brave thing what Bryan did. I'm sure that skunk was very grateful. It's sad that skunks have a reputation of spraying anything and everything.

  10. Hurrah for Bryan! The snake would have given me a fright as I am unfamiliar with that variety and would not have known it was not poisonous. The toad was pretty awesome as well.

  11. Thanks for all your comments. I'll be sure to send them on to Bryan!

    I'm sorry to say the snake didn't have such a nice ending to it's venture. As I watched it leave our property, it slithered across the street to the RV park. A few days later, I heard one of the tenants saw it near their RV and killed it with a shovel. Besides being beautiful creatures, King snakes keep rattlers away. I'm normally deathly afraid of snakes, but I had no fear of this one, and was terribly saddened by his death.

  12. Okay maybe I couldn't live in AZ after all.....I don't like big hairy spiders...yuck....snakes are fine but no on the rat size spiders :)

  13. That's very very impressive, and quick thinking on Bryan's part! You do keep your cool around animals, don't you?

  14. I love your post! In fact this is the post that got me reading your blog - which I love too!

    The snake is a beautiful specimen - just gorgeous! As is the spider! And as for the skunk, I agree with the other posts - tis a sad thing that folks first and foremost thoughts are to harm/kill and animal because it's the easiest thing to do. Yeah to your son!

    My mum runs a camp and they have a skunk who visits them - they call her petunia! She hasn't sprayed any camper in all the years of her visits. She loves going to the camp fires at night and they let her alone, and she does her own thing. She is such a sweet girl!

    Love it!

  15. Kiwi gomes, thank you! I always felt there was as much room on this earth for the animals as there is for us humans, and they all deserve our respect.

    Except for house flies, mosquitoes, wire worms and a few other pests I could name ;-)

  16. That tarrantula is a boy :) The boy's wander. The girls stay put and the boys wander about looking for them. Nice snake, I keep one of them as a pet. Very friendly.

  17. Nickie, I normally don't care for snakes. Not that I'd harm them (unless a rattler invades my space and endangers my animals), but I would rather they'd stay out of my sight. That King snake was the exception....he was beautiful, and I had no fear of him.

  18. Reading this old post and oh my, that is a funny story! Well, scary of course but funny. The snake was beautiful. Still, even knowing it's not poisonous, it does command respect, huh? Sorry that it met it's end like that.

    I'm SO glad we don't have tarantula's to deal with, yikes. Still, I would never kill one, just run the other direction, ha.

    I think I was most impressed with the skunk story. I'd be just like that, trying to figure out a way to get it's head out without getting sprayed. Kind of ingenious of him to use the table as a "shield of protection" and pretty cool that the skunk never once sprayed. I think animals understand more than we give them credit for. Great story that made me laugh and smile at the end, thanks for sharing it.

    1. 1st. Man, surprisingly, I was more curious about that snake than frightened. I think because I saw it coming. The gopher snake that came at me unexpectedly from under the shed, on the other hand, scared the crap out of me. Of course, it didn't help that a neighbor had killed a Mohave rattler in his yard just a few days before, and gopher snakes look just like rattlesnakes. I'm so glad we don't have snakes where we live now, in town. When we lived out in the country, my gardening would end as soon as I spied the first snake of the year. I once trapped one under the shovel blade, and stood in the garden for over an hour waiting for someone to come rescue me! There was no way I was going to let the snake go while I was standing there, but I could not bring myself to kill it. When my husband finally came out to see where I was, I had him hold the snake down while I made my getaway!