Kingsnake Predation

Posted on EdHat

Two weeks ago someone running Nine Trails found a king snake eating a rattler on the route.

Today, as I was running up Jesusita I passed Heidi and Brett and others coming down. They told me to watch for a King Snake eating a lizard further up the trail.

Taken by Heidi Heitkamp at ~5:30AM.

Taken by Heidi Heitkamp at ~5:30AM.

Sure enough, right before the trail gets really steep, right in the middle of the trail was a small king snake eating a western fence lizard. But I didn’t have a camera. I debated turning around to get a camera, but instead kept going — there was a flower I wanted to see further up.

I found my flower and turned back, but I ran a little faster than I usually do. When I got back to the steep spot the snake was exactly where I’d seen it before and seemed to have made no progress on eating the lizard. It appeared stuck on the front legs.

I wondered if the snake could actually eat it? The lizard appeared bigger around than the snake, and the legs were even bigger…

Predation events are rare…

Anyway it seemed that the snake wasn’t going anywhere and I figured I might actually have a chance to get back home; grab camera; return. So I sped up. It took me 20 minutes to get back to the bike, 13 minutes to get home (downhill), 3 minutes to get the camera, 15 minutes to get back to the trailhead (uphill), 20 minutes to get back to the snake.

On the way down I passed a woman taking her dogs up the trail. Perhaps the dogs would disturb it.

On the way up it was starting to get hot. Perhaps the snake’s metabolism would speed up and it would finish and move away.

And when I got there it was gone.

I swore.

That was a long way to go for nothing.

Then I searched more carefully.

The snake had moved. It was not gone, but it was no longer in the middle of the trail, being instead some distance off to the side. Whew.



It’s not a large snake…


The only other time I can remember running back so far to get a camera was one day when I stumbled on two snails mating in Ranomafana (Madagascar). The snails there are enormous, about 3 inches long, but like all snails they are slow. I figured I’d have time to run back and return before they were done (In fact they seemed to spend more than 8 hours together — I kept checking them throughout the day.)

Helicophanta ibaraoensis mating Jan 1999

Helicophanta ibaraoensis mating Jan 1999


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