Help, The Snakes Are Eating My Fish!
“Sit quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” ~ Zen quote
The grass is growing and growing. Spring has certainly sprung, but it is hard to “do nothing” as some of the creatures in my pond are unhappy. So much wildlife stop by to visit my little ecosystem: deer, frogs, birds, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, turtles and snakes. As it should be, the pond has taken on life of its own.
Pond Story (Part 2)
Just when I had decided to let nature takes its due course, and enjoy the majestic heron methodically spinning its magic, life in the pond took some twists and turns. See, I have come to realize (with the help from many of your comments) that the heron was truly a gift wrapped up in a natural lifecycle eating package. While the fish were doomed (not all were Koi, there were Goldfish and Carp too), the heron became a new creature to watch for in the early morning hours. Most of the fish that are left have gone into hiding, but the heron still swoops by each morning to catch a glimpse of a shiny fish. Sometimes he swoops down, but mostly he flies over the pond and goes off to diminish my neighbor’s pond.
The sun has been descending later in the day, and we’ve been spending more and more time outside in the early evenings. My son is home from college and he loves to cook. He especially enjoys cooking over the outdoor fire pit that is just a few feet away from the pond. One evening, while he was cooking and we were enjoying the last minutes of outdoor light, we noticed quite a commotion in the pond. The water aerobics was coming from a snake with one of our smallish gold fish in its mouth.
I ran inside to get the camera (photo above) and the field guide (it was a Northern Water Snake) while the snake glided in and out of the water as it wrestled with the splashing fish. After about a half an hour, the snake must have realized that it had bitten off more than it could possibly chew. It gave up exhausted, slithering off into the tall damp grass. The injured fish swam deeply down into the darkness and hopefully it has recovered from the ordeal.
Next: More info about water snakes and an update on the heron story
6 Facts About Water Snakes
1. This common water snake is harmless (to humans).
2. They are livebearers and breed April – June.
3. Northern water snakes range in size from 24 to 55 in (61-140 cm). They are fairly dark-colored snakes and may be brown, tan or grayish.
4. Northern water snakes are found throughout eastern and central North America. They inhabit a variety of aquatic habitats including lakes, ponds, marshes, rivers, and streams.
5. The snakes primarily feed on amphibians and fish.
6. Northern water snakes are abundant in my region and are not protected.
The snake has lots of old symbolism. Interpretations cover everything from personifying an evil tempter to representing wisdom, healing and rejuvenation. My favorite interpretation comes from Joseph Campbell from The Power of Myth: “The snake is the symbol of life throwing off the past and continuing to live.”
A quick update on the heron story (Part 1):
Many of your comments were very useful and constructive. Sorry about the misspelling mistake. It’s “Koi” not “Coy.” So much for years of being an English teacher! The cycle of life in a pond claimed all of the 15 Koi, which cost about 3 dollars each. There are a few small goldfish left. We had already tried a fake heron and that did not deter the crafty bird. Also, the netting idea works, but then our pets and other wildlife can’t drink from the pond. I’m also not fond of having a pond that is buttoned up tight with an unnatural net for functional reasons and because it doesn’t appeal to my aesthetics. We are exploring the idea of putting in local fish, but probably won’t restock this season.
The edge of the pond.
I can deal with the heron (love them) and the snakes (so much fun to watch their movement in the water), but during a walk on the road yesterday, we almost tripped over a snapping turtle. If the snappers move in…
Photo Credits: Ronnie Citron-Fink