Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Screaming Snakes ???

Photo...A harmless Black Racer snake.  Mouth agape probably trying to cool down from the intense summer heat.
Do snakes scream ? Can they make any noise other than the traditional hiss or the well known sound of a rattlesnake's warning rattle ? This was a thought I had never contemplated before as there was never a reason to contemplate it.

Yesterday I went outside to water my wilting orchid plant and just as I began to open the patio screen door I heard a high pitched squeal, shriek or scream from what I assumed was a small animal, most likely an angry bird. Though I looked around I saw no bird hopping about angrily protesting my invasion of its space. Then a movement caught my eye and I focused in on our resident black snake as it slithered between some bushes.  It made its way alongside our house to the small concrete patio slab that lay just outside our bedroom door and here the snake stopped.  He or she was a good 20 feet away and felt this to be a comfortable distance. I must say I was impressed by the spurt of grown the little fellow had made since I had seen him last year, he was now a good 3 feet in length and at least 2 inches in diameter at his thickest part, which was its middle (alas that seems to be the case with most of us).
Photo above...Hiding in the bushes, sort of !  Most of the Black Racer (about 2.5 feet of it) is hidden beneath the bushes.


Feeling confident that he was at a safe distance the snake clung close to the house and double up on itself as though preparing to settle down for a nap, meanwhile I went about watering my dry and thirsty orchid. A bit later I noticed he was no longer laying on our bedroom patio and must have quietly slithered off.
His disappearance did not concern me, however I couldn't get the strange squealing screams out of my mind. Had it been a bird that, having seen the snake, sent out a warning call to any and all things close by ? Perhaps. Since I would never truly know, the thoughts were dismissed as I opened the screen door to proceed back inside the patio. Then the high pitched screams began again, this time I looked down and scanned the ground to see what or where it was coming from. Just outside of our screened in patio I have a small collection of empty flower pots; one pot, a terra-cotta, orchid pot was turned upside down, I had done this thinking it would provide a nice shelter for a toad or a frog or maybe a lizard or two.
Photo above...Empty potting pots, the terra-cotta pot is an orchid pot and has several slits for drainage and allows the orchid roots to grow through.  As you can see the pot bears the remains of the last orchard plant that resided in it.  Orchard roots are very difficult to remove as they fasten themselves securely to  whatever they are growing in.

It was from the terra-cotta orchid pot that the squeals were emanating and just outside of that pot was our resident black snake, trying desperately to get its head through one of the long, narrow drainage slits carved out of the clay pot. Quickly I rattled the handle of the screen door and just as quickly the snake stopped it's attempt to gain entrance into the pot. He looked up at me with his shiny ebony eyes, his tongue darting about sensing the air and gathering all the information that it contained. Possibly the information he gathered told him it was me and so quietly and in no hurry he meandered back into the bushes that ran alongside of the house. For a moment I looked down at the orchid pot, even though I was brimming with curiosity I was sure that I really did not want to lift the pot to see what was inside of it .

Not much later I spoke to my hubby, John. "Uh, do snakes scream?"
John turned and looked at me, a look that read; "Did I just hear you say what I think you said?"
So I went on; "I've never heard a snake make any noise before. Can they make any sounds?"
"Only a hiss." John answered.
Therefore I recounted the whole story of the snake, the squeals and the terra-cotta, orchid pot. Curiosity can spread like wildfire and John wanted to see this terra-cotta pot for himself. We had scarcely stepped out onto the patio when John exclaims; "Oh there is something in that pot alright, cause I just saw the pot move!" Now here's where John goes and get a long object, like a golf club, to turn the pot over with.

Photo above...Close up of orchid pot and my hand to show size comparison of pot and one of its typical slits.

What was inside the  pot ? No mouse, rat or vole!  No bird, toad or frog!  It was our own resident black snake! All 3 point something feet of him!
Now something had been in that pot previously; something had made a very noticeable squealing or screaming sound; what it was? ... a mystery!  
How the snake finally got into the pot? All 3 plus feet of it? ... a mystery!  
Did the snake get the critter that had been in there? ... another mystery!
Was the snake just trying to claim the pot for its own domain? ... I'll never know! But I do know this; Snakes do not scream!


Photo above...No, not screaming!

10 comments:

  1. That's so weird! I would be wondering for a very long time what made the noise! You are brave to follow your garden friend around. I try to keep as far away from snakes in the wild as I can, even if they are harmless.

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  2. Who would have thought snakes scream :)

    I haven't seen our snake recently, maybe it has moved on, I was hoping it would get rid of the moles, oh well :)

    Hope you are staying cool and the Orchid plant is doing well :) T.

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  3. Aly I wish I knew what little critter it was just so it wouldn't preoccupy my curious brain. If it was one of the many annoying mouse-sized moles that have been burrowing everywhere in our yard, I can honestly say it will not be missed. Yes, even though this is a harmless snake I kept enough distance between us. I do respect nature and her animals and realize a frightened animal can be a dangerous one.

    T - We had a whole city of moles digging under our yard. Not sure what a group of moles are called, perhaps a warren, like rabbits ? Last year we could not walk anywhere in the yard without the yard sinking beneath our feet due to mole tunnels. Noticed there weren't nearly as many tunnels this year so maybe the Black Racer has been feasting on mole fricassee. :)

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  4. funny enough i found your post because i am sure i heard a snake scream. i was clearing the moat around my house(me standing inside the moat) from water lillies when suddenly i heard a very loud noise, sounded like a young bird screaming for its mother. it was right next to me in some small bush that was standing right at the waters edge. me not seeing what made the noise, i took a dead branch that was floating around and pushed aside some part of the bush. when i did that the screaming stopped and i saw something moving just a tiny bit. when i looked closer it turned out to be a brownish snake with its mouth wide open staring at me the same way i was staring at it myself. it wondered whether it might have just eaten something and looked at its mouth when the snake took off with a big leap right into the water i was standing in. after this i was wondering whether it could have been the snake making that noise or something that had been attacked by it and i looked but found no sign of feathers or anything like it and the snake's body just below its head did not look like it was containing anything before it jumped into the water. i have been wondering ever since and a thai friend of mine(i live in thailand)recently told me that she had heard about screaming snakes before but never actually seen one. so i am as smart as i was before but i do believe that i heard the snake scream that day, and i think you probably did as well

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  5. i have seen a screaming snake before in thailand, it was right next to me and there was nothing else around. it sounded like a bird calling for its mother and was very loud..
    so i think you might have seen one too!

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  6. Ah we may now have our answer. Thank you Andreas Brill, I guess some snakes do make a loud noise after all. Thank you for leaving your comments. I enjoyed reading them and appreciate your taking the time to leave them. :)

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  7. Tonopah desert diamondback has evolved quickly over two decades. Some have silent rattles and scream. Usually those born of the city.
    One was witnessed screaming during a strike.
    Evolution usually takes tens of thousands of years, but its t
    he serpents turn. It's wise to become weary of this fact until it can be confirmed. P.s. It appears the evolved diamondbacks still fear the common black snake.

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  8. There was something "screaming" just now in our palm tree. We stared up there for awhile, & saw nothing for 5 minutes...then saw something slowly move. It was a yellow, small snake! I see nothing else, so it has to be the snake.

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  9. Found this after Googling do black racers scream? We live in the FL panhandle where black racer snakes are a'plenty. Yesterday our labrador went on point and promptly tore off chasing what I thought was one of our scrub lizards. To my surprise, I seen this long skinny black snake standing up so to speak, flailing backwards across my driveway SCREAMING! It sounded exactly like a distressed baby bird! Once I got my dog called off and put inside my further investigation indeed revealed about a two foot long black racer sneaking away for cover. It was the wildest thing I've experienced in a while. Lol!

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