I went out looking for snakes this morning, armed with a cloth sack and gloves (because I’m a wimp!) and actually managed to catch a black ratsnake or “crow snake” (karasuhebi) in a field about 500m from the house. This is the same species as the four-lined ratsnake (shimahebi), but is almost completely black. This specimen was about one meter long, so probably not a fully grown adult (they grow to almost 2m apparently), but still got my heart beating rapidly when I caught it. I put it into the cloth sack and took it home to show the kids. We’ll keep it in a terrarium overnight and then I will release it in the same spot tomorrow morning.
Karasuhebi (Elaphe quadrivirgata)Karasuhebi (Elaphe quadrivirgata)
This snake’s defense behavior is a bit like a rattlesnake: it curls up with its tail vibrating (making an audible noise despite the absence of a rattle) and then it strikes with its mouth open, for all the world like a venemous snake. I had to persuade myself that it wasn’t venomous before I could grab it!! Then, when I did have a hold of the snake, it used its second line of defense which is to spray urine/feces (at least I think that’s what it was). Anyway, what a beautiful creature, just perfectly adapted to its environment, sneaking around the edges of fields catching frogs and mice.