Monday, 20 June 2011

Old Habits Die Hard...

Whilst in Florida I visited some good friends and colleagues that work in wildlife education.  During this time we went to the animal park where I visited animals I cared for and met some of the new animal ambassadors.  At one point, I heard a rustling in the maintenance equipment.  At first, I thought it was just an anole running through the brush.  The noise continued and I soon realized it was a slither and not a run.  When I looked down I saw that it was a snake.  Not an unusual sighting, we are near the St. John's River and the area is fairly undeveloped.  I quickly identified the snake as a black racer.   

Photo from Florida Natural History Museaum

During this quick assessment, I also noticed he was not slithering freely.  A roll of landscape netting had been left out and the snake was tangled amongst the little openings.  His small head fit through easily, his thicker body however, could not make it through.  

With very little thought I picked up the whole roll, got it out of the sun, and began to tear the snake out of its prison.  As I tore the openings in the mesh, the snake became more agile, and began to turn around and try to bite me, he unfortunately did not realize that I was there to help him.  Just at that momet, one of my colleagues happened to walk through the gate with a pair of canine nail clippers in her hands.   Without hesitation, she secured the gaping mouth so that I could continue to work on freeing the snake.  

Together and with the clippers, we quickly got the job done and released the snake.  We let him go in the same area, as a native snake he is an important part of the ecosystem and an excellent natural form of pest control.  More importantly, we removed the deer mesh from the outside storage area and moved it indoors.  

I lived in Florida for 14 years participating in wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release the entire time.  It felt good to get back in the saddle, however, frustrating to know that 90% of cases I have handled in more than 16 years now are a result of human interaction.  Please think about what you put in the environment, regardless of where you live.

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