Monday, April 9, 2012

Wild Wildlife: Knock, Knock…

My parents like to insist—as no doubt most parents do about their offspring—that I was a precocious child. In some respects it’s probably true, but I think that at three years old my joke-inventing ability left something to be desired: apparently I was very fond of a knock-knock joke I’d created that goes like this:

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Duck who?
Duck up in a tree! Hahahahahaha!!!

Hilarious, right?

I bring this joke up now not simply to illustrate the early signs of my comic genius but because I was reminded of it this past Wednesday, when Annie and I visited friends in Asheville, NC.

While Annie and our friends soaked in a mineral hot spring, I wandered a small portion of the Appalachian Trail (I can now say I hiked it! Briefly!), admiring the beauty of the woods, the incredible abundance and diversity of invertebrates (more on those soon), and the soothing sound of the waters of the French Broad River rushing by.

I was also astonished to discover the presence of reptiles, right there in the woods!

First, alerted by a rustling of dried leaves, I observed this little lizard on a log:

[it’s about the length of my palm, I think]

And later, walking back down the trail while looking for a place to eat an apple, I heard another rustling and looked around. I didn’t see anything moving, but, in a little sapling growing by the water’s edge, I noticed this:

That’s funny, I thought to myself, that almost looks like...a snake…

Sure enough, it was a snake! A snake up in a tree!

Because this snake was in a tree that was small and next the water, I took photos of it. (Had it been in the branches of a tree above me, I would have shrieked like a small child and run away with all the stealth and grace of a gored boar.) Even so, I wasn’t willing to get close enough to get a perfect head shot, so this was the best I could do.

I’m assuming it’s one of the many non-poisonous snakes around, but the herpetologistically inclined among my readers should feel free to correct me if I’m wrong; now that I’m back in DC, I don’t mind learning it was actually poisonous.

I didn’t stick around it for too long in any case, not out of fear (mainly), but out of courtesy; as with the other hikers I met along the trail, it seemed to be enjoying a moment of solitary contemplation, and far be it from me to interrupt that—at least, for longer than it takes to take four or five photos.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

If you think this is a snake, check out the Titanboa cerrejonensis in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum! Fortunately for us, long exctinct, since it makes anacondas look like its fingers, if snakes had fingers. . . .
Makes one glad to have "evolved" much later.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

True, though that also means that we've missed our chance at opposable toes!

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