Friday, May 19, 2017

Smooth Snake Relocation Mission

 Yesterday (5/18/20017) I went to Samokov for karate practice. Usually this is when I visit the Iskar river, since it's right next to the building I train at. The weather was nice, so I decided it's gonna be a great time for a little herping. Sadly, I was wrong: I only saw about 4 or 5 snakes, all of which where Grass snakes, except a young female Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca). They are very rare in that section of Iskar that crosses the city, and the reason is very simple: they don't belong here.

 Usually, Smooth snakes end up in Samokov when the spring snow up in the mountain melts and the river drags them down to the city. Smooth snakes are reptilophagous (I don't know if that's even a real word XD ), meaning they prefer to eat reptiles such as lizards and rarely baby snakes. The problem, though, was that the wall alongside the river gives a huge advantage to the lizards to escape a hungry Smooth snake, leading it to its eventual starvation and death, which is the reason they haven't already created a stable population in this region. So, what I had to do, was to find a suitable bottle to keep the snake in while I was at practice, and when I was done - to take it to my village and release it in a proper habitat for it. Eventually I found my bottle. I made sure it's a water bottle, and not from beer or some other strong-scented beverage that the snake wouldn't be comfortable with. And, of course, I did look for an empty one.
 I made some holes in the bottle and introduced it to its temporary inhabitant. Luckily, the snake didn't mind it and snuggled in. I left the bottle in a dark hole in the wall, making sure its the kind of place a snake will feel most safe and secure in, and went to karate. Two hours later I was done and went to get the snake. Everything was alright, thank God, but the sun had almost went down, and the snake was a little cold, so I heated the bottle with my breath. It worked and the snake became a bit more active.
 When we arrived home we grabbed our bikes and raced to the hills to the west to catch the last sunlight. Sadly, we missed it. Nevertheless, we released the snake in a crack in the rocks, but not before we took a few goodbye shots:

 We where a bit surprised to see that in the crack there was already another Smooth snake, as if waiting for our little adventurer. Good thing is that Smooth snakes aren't territorial and don't fight with each other. They both snuggled in the hole and we left them in peace, and headed home with the feeling of a job well done.

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