Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Garden encounters of the Pulmatophageous kind

Giving my once promising garden the displeased eye, I decided to start rebuilding it. A long winter combined with a toxic cocktail of shade, neglect and a veritable menagerie of herbivorous pests have left my organic vegie garden a grassy and weed infested knoll. The survivors: a pitiful assortment of spindly carrots, a flowering broccoli, three snail-eaten spinach plants, and  a lone embittered beetroot. In fact the only chlorophyllous life that is thriving turns out to be strawberries and mustard. The latter which unlike the snails, I find akin to aloe juice and goose faeces on the unpalatability scale.

I attempted to beat into the soil a plank that served as a boundary to my former vegetabilian paradise. Unsuccessful, I hauled it out, revealing a small snake snoozing beneath the wood. How it survived my attempt to reseat the plank seemingly undamaged, I do not know. I scurried inside to grab my camera, and was just in time to witness a tail disappearing between the grass. Not having had time to identify the snake yet as poisonous or otherwise, I made a grab for the tale, and came up with an innocuous and unthreatening head dangling from my digitarial grip.

Having taken some photographs, I placed it on the scanner which resulted in these images showcasing its beautiful undercarriage. It turns out to be the common slug-eater, Duberria lutrix.

I've been told recently that its safe to hold a snake by the tail. Clearly this snake didn't get the message, as it quite happily lifted its head towards my hand, and as if trying out for a position at the circus - eased its way through the gap formed between my thumb and forefinger.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the title - slugs are from the orders of Pulmonata, and phagy is latin "to eat".

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this - I have loads of these slow movers in my garden. When my little crippled cat gets one it knots itself up in a distinctive way - easy to scoop up in a dustpan and release. I am not able to overcome my 'snake fear' and actually pick it up!