I was walking to the car about 5:30pm on a warm September evening, done shooting at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, when I saw a few people looking down on the trail, right by the parking lot. My attention had been focused up, on a Red-shouldered hawk, standing in a tree overhead. He had been looking off in a different direction, I was surprised that he didn't see the little event playing out below him.
If I hadn't noticed the focused interest of those on the trail, I might have walked right by this photo story. Timing is everything!
How completely unexpected... a snake with a mouse, right in a high foot traffic area. A very small King snake. This little guy was only about 10 inches long, diameter about the size of a quarter, curled up like this he would fit in your hand.
He was clearly trying to eat his mouse, a feast far bigger than what seemed possible. I ran to the car to change lenses, I wanted to get much closer to this picnic!
He was wrapping himself tightly around the mouse. He was trying to constrict the diameter of his dinner in order to take it in. I had absolutely no idea how this snake was going to manage this monster of a meal.
Am I really seeing this? How in the world is this going to play out? I was very curious to see how this very determined snake was going to eat this very big bite.
His ambitious game of Twister continued. He tried and tried and tried, but that mouse wasn't moving. And now he had two photographers clicking away at his every twist and turn.
This poor little snake, just trying to swallow a big mouse, clearly a challenge annoying enough, but then to have humans pointing huge lenses at him, and... those darn pesky ants! I wonder if it tickles.
Okay enough is enough! The mouse isn't going down, the photographers aren't going away, and those damn ants... Time to get this show on the road. A road to privacy for a snake and his supper.
I was quite impressed with the king-sized strength of this King snake. Adrenalin rush?
He was able to lift his dead weight up over this acorn.
The mouse's face was locked in the snake's mouth all the way up to its ears.
He was headed to a bushy area on the other side of the trail.
But first, a dangerous crossing...
Over the heavily traveled trail, completely out in the open.
It took every ounce of effort but he crossed safely. I would like to think that our presence with him on the trail protected him.
By now I had completely forgotten about the hawk overhead. I have no idea how he missed this yummy meal, a double score for sure for a hungry raptor!
Almost to the bushes and a clean get away... but first up a little hill.
Piece of cake for a snake!
Why did the snake cross the road?
A meal fit for a King... snake.
P.S. I have no idea how this story ended. I was back a few days later and did not see a snake-with-mouse-stuck-in-mouth carcass in the bushes. I assume he gave up and slithered away. Or, he won't have to eat for a month now!
Gallery Photos: http://www.KimMichaels.com/KingSnakeWithMouse