Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Coachwhip Encounter

When the boys and I were at Fort Pickens I warned them several times to watch out for snakes. Which is not surprising since everyone knows how I feel about snakes.

But I warned them a little more than usual once we left the main fort and headed out into the dunes to see the old batteries. Rattlesnakes out there are common and I didn't want the boys walking into one as they plowed along overgrown paths.

We were at Battery Cooper and after wandering around the bottom some we climbed to the top. The Youngest was in front and once he'd gotten to the top he said "Mom, there's a snake."

The Oldest and I had just reached the top so I looked down an old path leading to the beach and there he was. An Eastern Coachwhip.

His head and about the first 6 inches or so of his body was up off the ground and he seemed to be looking around.

He put his head back down, turned back around and slithered up into the bushes.


He was about 20 feet from us - close enough for us to get a good look at him but far enough away that I didn't panic.

I told the boys that I wished I'd gotten a picture of him with his head up like it was and as I was saying that the snake came back out into the path. He looked like he was going to cross the path like he'd been doing when we interrupted him a minute ago.


But then he stopped, lifted his head and almost a foot of his body off the ground and looked at us.

Once again, the fact that I am not a wildlife photographer is confirmed because I was so busy looking at the snake that it took a minute for me to think to lift the camera and take a picture. And of course he'd lowered his head by then.

But now he was coming right at us.



He wasn't moving really fast but he was traveling along at a pretty good pace.

Don't snakes usually go away from people? Why was this one coming right towards us? I know he saw us.

Both boys were standing there next to me and the Youngest said "Mom, I think he's coming up here."

I'd come to the same conclusion and even though there was a part of me that was curious as to what the snake would do, there was no way in hell I was staying up there to find out.

The Youngest was first going back down the way we'd come but the Oldest hung back, yelling at his brother "Don't go in front of her - she'll run you over!"

I am very proud to say that I did not run over my child. In fact, I didn't run at all. I was moving quickly but there was no running involved.

When we got home the boys bragged on me to their dad, telling him that I didn't panic at all.

It's nice to appear mature in front of the kids on occassion.
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