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Snakeskin Surprise

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June's the time when we find snakeskins. Phoebe spotted the skin of a black rat snake deep within a crevice in our back patio. I came out and was glad to find it so fresh that it was still moist and pliable. I teased it out with a tweezers without displacing a single scale, a feat in itself, since it was hung up on the rough sandstone blocks. It was complete and perfect. The snake must undergo a hormonal surge or drop, to let loose of its skin in one go like that. They then find a snug rough-walled place, like a crack in a patio, to get it hitched and start peeling it away. It must feel wonderful to shed your skin. I'll never know. Well, I flake a bit in winter.

It was about as tall as Phoebe is: 5' 2" to her 5'4". Yikes.

We were fascinated by the way the skin had every single feature of the living snake except its mucous membranes and innards. It was inside out, the lenses of the eyes intact. Imagine shedding your eye lenses. Imagine shedding your skin. Whooo.

I turned it right side out to see the eyes and lower jaw as they would appear on the animal. I wondered how the skin shedding stopped at the lips, leaving the mucous membranes unaffected. The whole thing blows my mind. Blew the kids’ minds, too.

What my babies put up with…Despite his confident look, Liam had a harder time with donning the boa than Phoebs. He's just fakin' it here. Note stegosaur jammie pants.

But there was someone else who was wondering about this thing, too. Chet Baker don’t like snakes. He was dubious.

He thought the skins (we had found another just a few days earlier) were probably still dangerous.

Ever been bit by a dead bee? They can bitecha, just the same as the live ones.

It’s OK, Baker. Those skins won’t hurt you.

I am not so sure, Liam. I think they can still snap at me.

I am ready to jump aside or bite, whichever I need to do.

Phew, Mether, put those smelly things somewhere now. They give me the creepity creeps.

Is there a more expressive face in the Kingdom of Dog?


A five foot snake skin under the patio? I'd have to move.

Dang--the WHOLE skin, all one piece?
I do love Chet Baker's most skeptical look. Like, what the heck is that? He knows what it is and is NOT impressed.

What a great and informative post. The next time I run across a snake skin I will have to pay more attention to it. There was what we believe to be a Black Rate Snake skin in our leaf compost pile a little while back.
You and I both have snakes on the brain, BTW. Come check out my Black Racer story when you get a chance!
Oh, and love the expressions on everyone's faces here, especially the Bacon in that last pic.

Darn - I'll need to look around. There are probably a few skins near the western crawl space. I'm seeing those handsome snakes again lately... Chloe & Bella would both copy Chet's expression - "Let me at it! / Hold me back!"

Chet's face sez to me "Heh heh, I'm fine, doncha worry about me (as long as those things don't come back to life). Really, I'm fine. I'll...just be over there."

Wow! THAT is so very cool! How lucky you were to find the entire skin intact.

Heehee - one of my dogs is very afraid of snakes and shaed snake skins. I don't think he would have even come as close as Chet Baker did. What really surprises me, though, is that all my dogs seem very suspicious of box turtles.

The best place that I know of to look for snake skins is along stonewalls that are in the shade. The snakes love to squeeze in between the stones as they remove their skin.

Nice photos of the inside out snake skin.



Snakeskin Surprise? Sounds like a recipe. Eeew.

Holy shite, I would definitely have been even more freaked than Liam (cool pj pants!). No way you're touching me with that thing--especially not around my neck! *shudders just thinking about it*

But I am fascinated by the thought of shedding my skin. It's getting kinda looser and wrinklier these days; perhaps it's getting ready to be shed?

The eyes are the freakiest part. Eewwww.

Ooooooooooo creepy... My brother has a pet snake and he keeps the skins, but it's only half that snake's size! eep...

that was pretty cool

Lovin' the look on Chet's face in that last pic - "Eww, ick - get it away," he seems to be saying.

Question about the snake's eyes: Do you mean they shed the *lens* (which would be inside a mammal eye) or is it maybe a cornea-like scale that protects the outer surface of the eye? Not chimpin' on you, just wondering.


You can chimp on me any time, Katdoc! You have to be right--it's got to be a cornea, not a lens. Eee! Eee! Eee!

Googled a little on snake eyes (not the Vegas kind) and found that protective scale is either called a "spectacle," a "brille" or an eyecap.

just so's you know ...

~Kat, the learning lemur

Way cool!!! In my distant past when I worked at a natural history museum, we used to keep the shed snake skins for the school groups. The detail on them is amazing. Nature is amazing.

And Chet is amazing. Do you know I actually DREAM about your dog!?!??! (I can't believe I just admitted that. My cat will never forgive me.)

Wow, those snake skins are really huge! I would be much more interested in finding the snake skin than the actual snake wearing a skin that big!

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