By Bob Ferris
I used to delight myself and some on Facebook by posting pictures of the little garter snakes that would live in the cracks of our cement patio. Often five or six of the colorful snakes would intertwine and it became a challenge to count them all. They were here during the warmth and gone when things got frosty. When together they congregated near the patio chair where I would read with my head and book in the shade and my bare feet sun-kissed. We were not quite companions but they seemed not bothered by my presence unless I drew close.
Me: Isn't it weird that we have not seen the garter snakes for a couple of years?So the mystery of the missing snakes was solved. Ecology. Yes, I remember that stuff. The snakes were gone and it turns out that scrub jays also eat slugs in addition to small, colorful snakes. Who knew? Well I guess I did or I once did. In our garden as in wilder settings species assemblages change. I could miss the snakes and still not regret the jays. My wife yipped less with Stubby and his gray mantled crew and that was perhaps a welcome change. We never named the snakes. I wonder why.
Carlene: I've seen them.
Carlene: With Stubby. He was eating one.
When my wife came home from a camping trip moments ago we found that at least one garter snake survived Stubby and crew this summer. The good news being that this one was clearly larger and larger in the area that means more garter snakes soon. Gravid she appears hiding in leaf mulch below one of our pineapple guavas.