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Rocky Mountain Gardening: Snakes & Spiders & Other Joys

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Forum: Rocky Mountain GardeningReplies: 36, Views: 332
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lisabees
Centennial, CO
(Zone 5a)

March 1, 2010
1:06 AM

Post #7595625

Share your snake stories & comments here.
dparsons01
Albuquerque, NM
(Zone 7b)

March 1, 2010
7:03 PM

Post #7597266

Tarantulas are difficult pets and not for children. They need to be handled frequently and appropriately. You can't really "pet" one as you would a cat, dog, or guinea pig. They are intelligent enough to recognize and become familiar with individual people, and to develop some degree of communication.
lisabees
Centennial, CO
(Zone 5a)

March 1, 2010
7:21 PM

Post #7597299

Now that's interesting, how does a tarantula communicate?
dparsons01
Albuquerque, NM
(Zone 7b)

March 2, 2010
12:22 AM

Post #7598006

Don't know. When I was a teenager we had reason to visit one of my Dad's collegues who kept Tarantulas as pets. He talked to (my brothers, my Dad and I - my Mom decided not to participate), and took one of the Tarantulas out. I can't say how this man and his Tarantula communicated, but they certainly understood each other.

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

March 2, 2010
5:10 AM

Post #7598766

Snake story - One Easter we sent my Nephews out the front door with their buckets to hunt Easter Eggs. Only about ten minutes later, one of my Nephews came in the back door with a bucket squirming with little tiny baby Garter Snakes. I remember saying "Remind me to never send you to the store for a dozen eggs"
lisabees
Centennial, CO
(Zone 5a)

March 2, 2010
8:19 PM

Post #7600177

Cute story, I guess the snakes were just more interesting than just some 'ol colored eggs!
snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

March 8, 2010
9:09 AM

Post #7613054

missingrosie said: I am not kidding when I say that I feel anxiety just typing this.

I completely and totally understand. I'm on disability for severe anxiety disorder with associated panic attacks (the fugly can't-move-think-or-breathe variety) and being in any moving vehicle smaller than a full-size pickup is a massive panic trigger. I do not drive, and if I had to I'd be shaking by the time I got the key in the ignition.

And also: I have it in my head that snakes don't come out in the hot sunny afternoons and PLEASE don't tell me anything different.

You're actually right. They have to regulate their body temperatures fairly consistently, and the heat of the afternoon generally sends them into cooler places, often underground or under rocks.

As for me, I do NOT do spiders. I'll leave 'em alone outside if they run from me, but aggression or getting in the house or on my person makes them a vile arachnoid invader-beast which must die. I've had a dozen people here in Montana assure me there are no brown recluses here because the winters are too cold, and I'd like them to explain that to the 2 I killed in a previous apartment (where the downstairs neighbor was 85 & had cancer and the upstairs neighbors had 2 kids under 5) and the one that lumbered out of my current (and chronically health-challenged) neighbor's heat vent last spring...as he was plugging in his laptop after a week-long stay in Idaho. For naturopathic treatment of the lingering aftereffects of a double brown recluse bite he sustained in Arizona 5 years ago. Thankfully we have awesome landlords, and the organic-orange-peel-repellent guys were here spraying in less than a week. The only kind of spider exempt from freaking me right out on sight is the black-and-white "tiger" jumpers, who are even more paranoid than I am. I think the only reason I survived a period of my life so stressful I was hallucinating giant spiders is that it was always jumping spiders. Life's calmed down a LOT since then, lucky for me!

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

March 8, 2010
8:50 PM

Post #7614842

I'm okay with snakes and spiders. I don't do bats and stairs. I used to have a problem with buzzing insects, but that seems to have gotten better.
Katlian
Carson City, NV
(Zone 6b)

March 9, 2010
11:15 AM

Post #7616173

My mom grew up with five brothers and they were always trying to scare her with snakes and spiders and other creepy crawlies so she got used to them. She taught us how interesting they are and how to handle them and my brother and I aren't really scared of many critters because of that. My dad on the other hand is afraid of everything, including the hamsters we kept as kids.

I worked in a pet store in high school and one of my jobs was feeding and handling the snakes so they would be tamer. That doesn't mean I don't have a healthy respect for a rattlesnake when I'm out working in the boondocks; I certainly don't WANT to get bitten.

Certain types of spiders are allowed to live in our house as long as they are in a place where we can keep an eye on them, not near the bed. Black windows get evicted to the garden, where they can eat bugs.

The last critter that really scared me was the enormous scorpion that crawled part-way out from under the baseboard in the bathroom of our old house. I could hear a funny scrabbling noise and when I looked behind the sink I could see two big claws sticking out! We pushed the scorpion back into the wall with a stick and sealed up the gap with caulking. Then we went around and caulked under all of the other baseboards downstairs. That scorpion probably saved us $30 on our heating bills by making us seal up all the cracks ^_^

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

March 10, 2010
6:00 AM

Post #7618235

We have Black Widows and Rattlesnakes in Colorado, too, and I grew up hiking in Rattlesnake country. So when I see either a snake or a spider, the first thing I thing that clicks in my brain is "ID?!". When we moved back here, one of the first things I did was teach the kids how to tell a Gopher/Bull snake from a Rattler.

Then my son would come home from school and complain that recess was cancelled because of a supposed rattlesnake on the playground, which was actually a "Garter Snake", or "Gopher Snake", or "Coachwhip". I presume my son knew because he slipped out and looked at the snake without the teacher's knowledge or permission.

My husband isn't fond of Snakes or Spiders, but he really hates/fears is the centipedes, which get 3-5 inches long here. Occasionally one will turn up galloping through the house, and he will turn and give me a pointed look and say "That thing has got to go." Then I have to try and catch it. I kill Black Widows indoors, but I put other Spiders and the Centipedes out.

We supposedly have small Scorpions around here, but I haven't seen one. We are at the North edge of the Range of Tarantulas, and we have seen a few of those - which is pretty cool.
pejiduta8
Denver, CO
(Zone 5a)

March 12, 2010
5:59 PM

Post #7624750

I'm okay with snakes and spiders for the most part. What really makes me cringe are centipedes and scorpions. When I lived in Phoenix, I would occasionally get a bark scorpion in my apartment. My carpet was almost the same color as they were which did not help things. I had one crawl over my foot and another time, even worse, one crawled over my arm while I was in bed! I somehow managed to go from a horizontal position to somewhere 3 feet in the air with a shriek to go with it! Thankfully, scorpions are unable to sting what they are standing on so I was spared that experience.
snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

May 26, 2010
1:05 PM

Post #7830138

There are probably scorpions around here, too, though I've yet to see so much as a wild garter snake in MT--just hobo spiders, brown "But they don't live in Montana" recluses, and one very large female black widow. Sorry for my extended absence from posting; human and electronic health problems have been running wild around here. I have to wonder if the guys at our fantastic local computer shop have a betting pool yet..."Hey, it's Friday night and a horrible virus was released 5 minutes ago...what time on Monday do we think this dude's gonna bring his girlfriend's tower back in?" I always get the newest, spiffiest, no-real-solution-yet stuff. This latest required, no joke, a reformat of the hard drive and reinstallation of my OS because even their extensive suite of anti-malware programs couldn't kill it. Of course I forgot to back up my net favorites file (tho everything else did get backed up!) so I'll be a few days patching my Favorites list back together before I start posting in the Plant ID and Bad Bird Photos forums :) My pet snakes are in a very quiet mode right now; Nevluk has just shed and Qanuk is clouded up getting ready to shed. I should know in a month or six weeks if I need to dust off the incubator, and if there will be eggs I'll be sure to get a picture of Nevluk when she's all bumpy!
dahlianut
Calgary, AB
(Zone 3a)

June 1, 2010
11:48 AM

Post #7848964

I like all creatures great and small except giant heebiejeebie earthworms.
Ret_Sgt_Yates
Sparta , TN
(Zone 7a)

June 2, 2010
4:02 PM

Post #7853053

i have 27 Tarantulas 18 Snakes 42 Scorpions 4 camel spiders and one crazy cat their all diffrent and we love them like family the cat was an accadent it just wondered in the house and took up house keepen and we could not get rid of it .LOL yep we dont realy have many folks over and if we do they dont stay long and then they hunt a door quick ponders for a moment I wonder why? he he he

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Ret_Sgt_Yates
Sparta , TN
(Zone 7a)

June 5, 2010
4:48 PM

Post #7861923

my baby camel spider

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Katlian
Carson City, NV
(Zone 6b)

June 12, 2010
7:51 AM

Post #7881425

Aren't camel spiders more closely related to scorpions than spiders? Have you put any photos of your critters in the BugFiles?
snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

June 30, 2010
12:32 PM

Post #7933296

I have eggs incubating; 7 of the clutch looked good when laid and I don't mess with them much except to refresh the filtered water that goes in the incubator. I should know around early September, and it also looks from their behavior like they might double-clutch this year so I'm feeding Nevluk up! Pictured is Qanuk glaring at me because Nevluk, after laying a dud egg in the pillowcase I had to keep her tied up in over a weekend while I frantically searched for UNTREATED perlite, then took a couple of days to get around to actually laying the rest of the clutch. He doesn't like it when she's gone more than a few minutes, and he spent about three days doing this--their 56-qt Sterilite stackbox home is about six feet off my left elbow when I'm at my computer.

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snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

June 30, 2010
12:34 PM

Post #7933304

And here is Nevluk, who can always be told from Qanuk by the fact that she is much, much paler in both yellow and pink areas, curled up in the much smaller maternity box (like their permanent home, a Sterilite with plentiful air holes drilled in it) with a dish of nice clean perlite (most around here is treated with Miracle Gro or similar ammonia-reeking plant food compounds) with warmed filtered water added.

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snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

June 30, 2010
12:37 PM

Post #7933310

And here is Nevluk the next day, June 8. Notice how she has carefully placed dud eggs in the perlite and the seven nice ones along with a few other duds alongside, where they stuck to the plastic and one of the poor things took me five minutes with wet fingertips to work loose without tearing the shell. Beautiful, my pets are, but bright...not so much. ;)

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snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

June 30, 2010
12:46 PM

Post #7933332

One last pic, Nevluk having a climb in the sun in one of our ornamental trees, the one in which I most often photograph honeybees while it blooms earlier in the year. I figured she'd more than earned a vacation!

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dparsons01
Albuquerque, NM
(Zone 7b)

July 2, 2010
10:02 AM

Post #7937995

I get untreated perlite from a hydroponics store.
snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

July 7, 2010
8:04 AM

Post #7949509

dparsons, I got mine from a feed store of all places. Lucky for me we have several in town, though I have to say the only size they had is a lifetime supply...MY lifetime, not the snakes'! It's 2 cubic feet, up to my waist, and gives me a good excuse to start begging for lavender corns when I retire & rehome Qanuk and Nevluk. Attached is a July 4 pic of Qanuk..."As a matter of fact, that *is* a snake in my pocket...but don't think I'm not happy to see you!"

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snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

July 7, 2010
8:08 AM

Post #7949527

Sgt Yates, I might not be inclined to get too close to the camel spiders and will only look at tarantulas that are securely caged as I'm severely arachnophobic, but other than that if I was ever at your house I'd probably be taking 2 memory cards' worth of critter pix and going "OOOOO" a *lot* at the scorpions and snakes. :)
kmom246
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

August 8, 2010
12:51 PM

Post #8026961

SGT Yates - You're making me miss my tarantula. I had a chilean rose for about 10 years. One winter, she went to sleep and didn't wake up. I thought it was funny how, each year, when she came out of hibernation, she would have forgotten about people and had to be tamed all over again. My husband though about bringing me a camel spider from Afghanistan, but the Army said, "No, no, no!"

Right now, my pet spiders really only consist of the black widows that are inhabitting the garden. Most of them are grey with orange hour glass markings, so I am assuming they are males. As long as they stay outside with the scorpions, I'm happy with them.

Speaking of scorpions, they moved out of the garden when the chickens moved in. The chickens haven't eaten any, that I know of, but once I started letting them play in the garden in the evenings, the scorpions totally moved out. I see them elswhere on the property, but not there. Maybe chickens make too much of a ruckus for them. Or maybe they ate all the grasshoppers so there was no longer any good hunting there.

(PS Assuming you are retired military, so thank you for your service)

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pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 12, 2010
3:51 PM

Post #8036141

kmom426: Your spider is weird, it doen't look exactly like a male or female Black Widow - but it looks more like a female Black Widow than anything else I am familiar with.
HappyJackMom
Happy Jack, AZ
(Zone 5a)

August 12, 2010
9:22 PM

Post #8036779

I though Black Widows only had the hour glass markings on their bellies, not their backs.
dparsons01
Albuquerque, NM
(Zone 7b)

August 17, 2010
2:50 PM

Post #8045794

Could be a related spider. There are several species of Widow spiders aside from the Black Widow.

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 27, 2010
3:39 PM

Post #8065816

I think this picture is better without a caption

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HappyJackMom
Happy Jack, AZ
(Zone 5a)

August 27, 2010
7:49 PM

Post #8066264

It gives me the creeps just looking at it's picture!
AZgrammie
North of Heber, AZ
(Zone 6b)

August 29, 2010
2:23 PM

Post #8069045

Being a native Arizonan, I have had many enounters with scorpions -- some not so funny -- the best one was a few years ago when I was taking a class on Arizona flora and fauna at the local community college. The prof had brought in a huge scorpion in a jar and placed it on his desk. Later he announced that he was going to have somebody turn off all the lights except a portable lamp that had a blacklight bulb in it to show the class that scorpions glowed in the dark under blacklights. OK, the blacklight lamp was plugged in near his desk, the other lights were out, and we all clustered around his desk. He let the scorpion out to wander around on the desktop. Suddenly somebody tripped over the lamp cord, unplugging it and plunging the room into total blackness. Man, you never heard such a scramble of people heading for the door -- I think I got there first!

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 30, 2010
5:49 PM

Post #8071384

I don't blame you! I'd head for the nearest exit too! CLASS DISMISSED!!

That reminds me of a story my father told about being stationed in the Pacific theater during WWII. They had air raid drills where they practiced running to the nearest slip trench (I gather this was a deep narrow trench) and Dad was good at it. The first time the sirens went off for real, Dad jumped out of his bunk, ran out of the barracks, across the compound, and jumped in the trench.
There was a BIG Cobra in the trench.
Dad jumped out of the trench, ran across the compound, back into the barracks, jumped into his bunk, and lay there and listened to the sirens wail. It turned out to be a false alarm, but Dad said he wouldn't have gone back to the trench in any case.
snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

September 6, 2010
1:18 PM

Post #8083785

WOWZERS. I'm still in awe. On my way to Oregon last month for emergency pickup of some heirloom furniture my mom didn't want to have to sell in prep for her upcoming winter and the wedding of my neighbor's nephew, we stopped overnight in Kennewick. Tired and in need of some spiritual restoration, I asked if we could cross a couple of oddly-angled streets and go check out the tropical fish store for photo ops. My neighbor was up for that, so we ambled on over. While I was annoying the tropical fish--but not too badly, no flash photos at least--my neighbor popped his head around a corner and somewhat shakily informed me "They have a *Gaboon viper* over here you might wanna take a look at!"

He wasn't kidding! In addition to a nice selection of healthy sale animals, the store maintains a collection of exhibit-only herps: the Gaboon seen below, her cousin the rhinoceros viper, a western diamondback named Fang the Impaler, a stunning albino monocled cobra, and a highly endangered eastern indigo snake! Signs advise that all the snakes have had their venom glands surgically removed; since there were at the time no other people in the store, the clerk heard me tell my neighbor that the procedure isn't 100% reliable because for poorly understood reasons, the venom glands sometimes grow back. He listened for a bit, answered questions for us, and seemed to figure out pretty quickly that I've got it way more together than the average monkey when it comes to snake taxonomy and behavior. One result was a brief showing--he got a snake stick and took the rhino viper out of its cage for me to photograph! I made sure his trust in my not doing anything stupid was repaid for that one! No sudden moves, keeping a respectful distance, quiet voices, all about calm. Another was his allowing me to take a photo (posted below) of a shed fang from the Gaboon's youth...when she was much smaller than the 3.5 or 4 feet she is now.

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snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

September 6, 2010
1:23 PM

Post #8083794

And here's her old fang. Gaboon vipers have the longest fangs of any venomous snake, and like all front-fanged snakes (vipers and rattlers primarily) they shed the old fangs when the tips begin to dull. Just to give you a vague idea of the size, my pinkie finger is roughly a ring size 2.5, and my last wedding ring (when I was considerably heavier than I am now) was a size 4. My hand is one knuckle wider at the top of the palm than a AA battery! Adult Gaboon vipers can be up to five feet long and capable of delivering a bite said to be powerful enough to break the arm of a small adult person.

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snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

September 6, 2010
1:29 PM

Post #8083807

This is the albino cobra, sulking at the back of his enclosure. He must've been six or seven feet long! He was described as the crankiest critter in the store, and he sure does have the face for it. There are several reasons why cobras don't have the huge, triangular head seen on other poisonous snakes: their venom works differently and requires less as a result of how, their fangs are small and fixed in place rather than hinged, and it may have also to do with needing to be able to flare out a hood, which takes longer neck-area ribs than most snakes need. The "fixed" fang is why cobras also bite differently than vipers. A rattler or other viper will grab and release, where a cobra will grab and "chew"--lacking long fangs to inject venom deeply, elapid snakes must cause some tissue damage to get the venom in contact with the bloodstream. Knowing all that and that devenomization surgery can and sometimes does fail through no fault of the surgeon's, I was NOT about to ask for a closer look at this fella.

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snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

September 6, 2010
1:35 PM

Post #8083819

And here's the rhinoceros viper, named for the horn-like vertical scales at the front of its face. Like the Gaboon, it's a "cryptic ambush hunter", preferring to curl up in dead leaves looking like more dead leaves next to a game trail and wait for something the right size to walk by. The photos I got are a little blurred, as the snake was just a tiny bit faster than the camera in the low-light conditions--no way was I going to pop the flash in a potentially venomous snake's face!

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snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

September 6, 2010
1:38 PM

Post #8083826

Even with maybe a quarter of its length visible, this beauty took my breath away. Collecting for the pet trade and habitat destruction all over the US southeast have left the eastern indigo snake severely threatened in the wild. Even if the light wasn't up to showing off the deep purply-blue shine of the scales from which the snake takes its name, this nonvenomous beauty was an honor to just get to see up close!

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snakeadelic
Hamilton, MT

September 6, 2010
1:48 PM

Post #8083836

Forgot to include that the guy working there said he'd have let me handle the indigo if it hadn't eaten the day before. Handling snakes immediately after a meal can stress them into horking it back up, which isn't just disgusting but, for the snake, dangerous in a couple of ways. Claws on prey animals can cause serious damage going the wrong way (which is why they swallow prey head first), and the depletion of energy (and venom for those snakes that have it) used in catching a meal can cause the snake trouble if they don't keep the meal down to replace that energy.

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