Hunter in Salal

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This Salal plant (just past the Lady Fern) sits next to our front path.  Today my wife noticed something sitting in it (those are her legs!).

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A snake!  Most likely a Northwestern Garter Snake.  Garter snake colors are extremely variable and this one looked beautiful to me.

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These snakes like to eat slugs and worms which are plentiful in my yard.  I prefer to design shelter for predators than to spread poison to control the slugs- you can see that a lot of the Salal leaves have holes in them, so I need some help.

As I got closer with my camera the snake stuck its tongue out!

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At first I thought it was trying to threaten me.  But after taking a peek in Passionate Slugs & Hollywood Frogs by Patricia K. Lichen I learned that the snake is actually just gathering information about me!  Its tongue traps chemicals in the air and it then sticks the tongue back in its mouth and into a sensory organ that helps it understand what it is smelling and tasting.

I dared to get a bit closer but it quickly disappeared into the brush- hopefully finding some more slugs to eat.

  1. I would venture a guess that the bites on the Salal leaves are by Root Weevils. They are an occupational hazard for Rhododendrons, Salal and Madronas. There are pesticides to control them, but the plants look like they are tolerating the ordeal, so the poisons may not be needed. Enjoyed the post. I once encountered a Garter Snake in the yard gobbling up one of those black garden slugs (Arion ater). I didn’t know they did that.

  2. Keep on getting those slugs Mr Snake. That’s cute that you got him with his tongue sticking out. I’ll take a look at that book by Patricia. I used to read her blog and ordered and loved her book of fiction set in the PNW. Kind of forgot about her., thanks for this cute post and for the reminder of her!

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