Lodgers

Hierophis viridiflavus

Hierophis viridiflavus

When you live in an old stone house you have got to accept that you will not be the only occupant.  It’s just a matter of when you meet the other lodgers.

A head pops out of a hole

A head pops out of a hole

As usual I find myself looking into a hole when something starts looking back at me.

Testing the sunshine

Testing the sunshine

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to catch the little flickering black tongue that repeatedly tested the air.

Decision taken

Decision taken

I was please to see him come out as he will quickly return if he feels any movement.

Nearly out

Nearly out

You will note that precaution has won and the last little bit of the tail is still in the hole.  Well after that I must have moved and he was off like a shot back into the hole.

He does move fast and his speed is what gives him his common name of Western Whipsnake – fast as a whip.

We’ve had a couple of sunny days and he likes to sunbathe at the edge of the house.  He is well hidden by the bunches of white Alyssum that grow in the cracks, and O.K. the odd bit of chickweed too.  Reptiles and Amphibians of France say that they hatch at about 30 centimetres and that was my guess of his length although I am very surprised that they would hatch as big as that.  It would mean that my lodger is this year’s hatchling which seems  a bit early.

These snakes are common throughout France and we have seen larger ones before (A Snake in the House).  They are not aggressive snakes nor are they venomous so they are very welcome to share the garden with everybody else.

Another visit

Another visit

This picture was taken five years ago and the snake made a remarkably rapid retreat mounting the wall vertically and disappearing over the roof.

Bat on wall

Bat on wall

It was a month ago exactly that we had another visitor in almost the same position on the wall.  A bat took up residence behind the shutters of the living room window that we leave almost permanently in the open position.

The bat only stayed a couple of nights, probably put off by people taking photographs of him but I don’t really think that behind the shutters would have been a good site for a permanent roost.

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34 thoughts on “Lodgers

  1. I love ‘your’ snake, Amelia. I often wish we had more species here in the UK. I haven’t seen an adder for years and I only have grass-snakes at the Priory – for which I’m very grateful. Dave

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  2. I am always amazed by how many true pests your lodgers help to manage. I was recently informed, which I did not realize, was that there are some plants only a bat can pollinate. I am trying to research this a little further.

    Great photos…

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  3. We have the Western whip snake in the garden here too, although I don’t often see them, I sometimes find their skins near roses they’ve used to help them shed their old skin. I saw astounded to see how easily they could climb the steps to the vegetable garden – so if one got into the house there would be no use in running upstairs to get away! Great images as usual Amelia, remind me what camers you use. Christina

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    • LOL . I had a vision of being chased upstairs by one of the snakes!
      I got a Canon 60D last Autumn. I don’t think the camera is so important as the lens. I just got a Canon 100mm Macro and I really like it for close-ups. I now have a chance to identify bees because I can get sharper pictures. I got a kit zoom lens with the camera but I find the distance part of the zoom i.e. for landscapes disappointing. It might be me though as I’m only learning. But the landscapes taken with our Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ18 are reasonable and its Macro function good. The difference in price between the two seems unjustifiably large.

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    • I’ve never seen a water snake although our land snakes will cross water if obliged to, I think. I’m sure the hens prefer the snakes rather than having to share their food with mice.

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  4. I am amazed that snake-lings have already hatched in your area. Incubation must be at least a month or more. Perhaps it was just a late hatch last summer and over-wintered under your stones?

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  5. I sometimes wonder if the BBC Natural History Unit could make a program or two just from the creatures to be found in crumbly old French houses – we have had all manner of rodents, a family of owls, blue tits, bats, baby grass snakes, a hornets nest and much more.

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  6. Just after you posted this we had a “lodger” slither past the front door… a Viperine Snake [Natrix maura]…. “he” was probably on his way to the millstream.
    Like the Grass Snake… a close relative…. they are good swimmers…. but unlike the Grass Snake, they take fish!
    It was only a young one, 50cm at the max and only as round as my little finger.
    So, a bit older than yours…. but not by much….
    We get yours here too…. and the Grass Snake… but I’ve only seen the latter as road kill… sad… but… c’est la vie [ou mort?]
    One advantage of a huge meadow is that I can rake up the mowings into large, fermenting heaps… that gives them somewhere to lay at least.

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  7. Oh what a cute snake Amelia! With such proportionally big eyes it does look like a hatchling but it seems very early in the year. I’d love to see a wild snake in my garden, or a slow worm. I’ve got an elderly python in the house though. 😀 Lovely bat, too.

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  8. Pingback: Summer visitors | a french garden

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