Mexico has disappointed me in one regard.
Snakes. There are not enough snakes.
And I cannot understand why. I live in the tropics. On the shore of what is essentially a crocodile-infested swamp. And there are almost no snakes.
That is not entirely true. I have seen two snakes during the last three years. A Mexican milk snake (down by the old tropical stream) and a cat-eyed viper (name that snake). For an ophiophilist, that is a rather poor record.
But a small event this week helped make up for it. Dora, the woman who stops by to straighten up my living situation, was here on Wednesday. Because I get in her way, I am usually exiled to the garden like an eight-year old for te two hours she is here..
While wandering around, I came upon the odd sight at the top of this post. It was the Mexican milk snake. At first, I thought someone had done a Robespierre on it. Its head appeared to be missing.
I bent over and took a closer look. The head appeared to be down a hole. I watched for a good ten minutes to figure out what the snake was doing. I presumed it was either feeding or hunting. But nothing.
Certainly it was not sleeping in a position that vulnerable. But I had never before seen it active during daylight. All of my previous sightings of it were late at night.
I brought Dora out to show her. She is not particularly afraid of snakes, but they are certainly not pet material.
I nudged the snake a couple of times. Nada. And then it stirred. Dora screamed and jumped. She thought it was dead.
Reluctantly the snake revealed its head. And just stayed there. A bit groggily it seemed to me. Maybe it was asleep. When I returned in about a minute, it darted off into the rocks swifter than I have ever seen it move.
The part that excited me the most? Getting to see it in the light up close and personal. It is the first time I actually touched it with my hand.
Milk snakes (all king snakes, in fact) are well-suited to be pets. What would be a bit disconcerting, though, would be handling a snake that looks so uncannily like a coral snake.
But maybe that would be the greatest thrill of all.