Wild Kingdom: Who do we root for?

Gecko on the front porch
A lizard friend.


Sometimes I feel like I’m living in an episode of “Wild Kingdom”. We’re blessed (it’s a mixed blessing, to be sure)  to live on the banks of a creek, which provides a natural wildlife corridor and habitat. The creek is spring-fed and never runs dry even in our worst droughts which means we always have small fish, frogs, snakes and other water critters. Each year the return of wood ducks silently paddling up and down our stretch of the creek means Spring is here. During the summer a couple of different species of herons hang out on large rocks fishing. We’ve got large and small turtles, possums, raccoons, even an armadillo. Some of my favorite wildlife are the birds, especially cardinals, woodpeckers and hummingbirds, as well as butterflies, dragonflies, and my little buddies the geckos. Less welcome are the coyotes and ubiquitous squirrels. Lately, Mr. ‘Dillo has become a major pest by digging holes in the front yard every night.

When we bought this property 10 years ago I committed to being a good creekside neighbor. Part of that commitment was landscaping with native plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife. We certified our yard as a National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat. Sometimes that means uncomfortable encounters with that wildlife, such as when a coyote attacked a neighbor’s pet cat in our front yard. Our dog scared off the coyote but the cat ultimately did not survive its wounds.

Red Striped Ribbon Snake (Photo by Adam Dawson dawson@austin.rr.com)

This weekend I was cleaning leaves from one of the front gardens when I encountered a red striped ribbon snake. I’ve seen them around the yard numerous times because they like to eat frogs and fish, which the creek provides in abundance. This snake, though, had a large toad in its tiny little mouth. It looked like the hind right leg of the toad was firmly caught. Now, snakes give me the heebie jeebies, even though intellectually I know they are beneficial creatures. I thought about interfering, but the score seemed to be Snake 1, Toad 0. I called my son Tristan out to take a look and he asked me “Who do we root for?”.

We just let them be.

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