August 16, 2012

"There are snakes in the barn", was the emergency declaration that made me jump into action. In the barn stall holding our chickens, and under a cardboard nesting box, were in fact two snakes: species = Common Garter Snake. Initially I was concerned for the chickens' safety. So to placate all involved, I quickly and carefully transferred the snakes into an empty plastic tub.

Of course this presented a perfect opportunity to grab some quick photos. Once that was done, I looked around for a safe spot away from the barn to transfer the snakes. Some distance away I gently laid the snakes along an old ceder rail fence. They slithered off apparently as happy as snakes can be!

I later reflected on the situation of snakes in the barn and came to the conclusion that the snakes were likely in more peril than the chickens. They were found underneath the cardboard box and the chickens probably didn't know they were there. In fact, having witnessed the ferocity of chickens chasing various invertebrates and each other, I fear that the snakes would have been mercilessly pecked at! So it was best for them to get safe passage to another locale and they never returned.

Josh Feltham of Fleming College confirmed that the snakes in the photos show courtship behaviour. The smaller male rubbing its chin on the larger female is a strong sign of the behaviour. Clearly they had more on their minds than chickens!

Common Garter Snake - small male and large female in courtship

Common Garter Snake

Common Garter Snake - the male sliding its chin along the female's body shows courtship behaviour.

Common Garter Snake

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