Monday, 2 May 2011

Adders and Cryptomerias

It's true to say that I mow a lot of grass. While going up and down a lawn, thinking about lifes pains and pleasures, or playing back some of the worlds great classic songs in my head such as 'Pass The Duchie', I still try to stay vigilant about any wildlife that lingers in my path. Fortunately, the only things to have been accidently killed are a few bees, probably about twenty in my thirty five years of doing this, and so not too bad I think. I do get funny looks from residents during the summer, with my sudden and panicky stops mid stripe, as that 'slow to get his backside into gear' bee wakes from his sleepy pollen collecting, and finally flies off. Needless to say I always feel horrible when in my sleepy stroll I don't quite stop and lift the front of the mower in time for the little fellow to get away. There have been a few dead animals on lawns, usually hedgehogs or birds ranging in size from sparrows to crows, and most often in a pretty dire mess after having died at the hands of a fox or hawk. In these circumstances, the easiest thing to do is just ride straight over them and add them to the grass being collected, with a resounding thump.
This brings me to the adder, a snake with a venomous bite that is native to the UK. Although not often encountered in my travels, I have had a couple of instances of them leaping out from under hedges at me when suddenly surprised, and on one of these occasions actually biting my leg.....not pleasant!
Last week however, while doing the lawn stripe walk, I noticed in the centre of a very large lawn a familiar sight of an adder basking in the morning sun, as they do. It was coiled and motionless, and so I left it in peace while continuing to walk up and down the lawn with the mower, assuming that the noise and vibrations would eventually force it to move away. This went on for about twenty minutes, and when around twelve feet away it still hadn't moved, I smelled a rat and so moved in to investigate. A clap of the hands and then poke with a stick revealed a dead snake! No damage to any of it, and seemingly just died where it lay.
And so my question to fellow bloggers is this: Do snakes have heart attacks?

Cryptomerias.......horrible trees. In the picture below is one such tree on the edge of the adder lawn spoken of above. This one has very recently had it's top removed to reduce it's weight, and subsequent tilting problem. On a recent visit to Exbury Gardens, I saw a number of these trees, all leaning at various precarious angles as Cryptomerias do. Is this not an evolutionary defect? And why do people continue to plants this ridiculous trees? Unfortunately, due to strict tree preservation controls in the area, the one below must remain.......beheaded and leaning........ugh!


  1. Where I live, so do some of the world's most venomous snakes. But as you say, unless they are dead, they take a pretty wide berth. The summer before last I had a 5 foot tiger snake in the shed...but once shown the door he slid off never to be seen again. Maybe your snake bit itself. LOL

  2. Hi Hazel,
    I think I will keepy gardening over here, it sounds much safer! A five foot snake in your shed, now that would be a problem.

  3. I remember accidently mowing a snake once at the farm while in high school. He slithered out before I had time to even think about stopping. I also accidently (and I hate thinking about it) hit a baby cottontail with the mower. I'm sure he went quickly. After that, I started tromping all over the lawn first without the mower. Thank goodness we have a tiny lawn.

  4. Gary,

    You have posted a most interesting question, “do snakes have heart attacks?’ Well I am by no means an authority but I would chance a guess that they do. I would think that “any” species that has a heart / circulatory system would suffer a heart attack if its heart were to stop. Now with all that ramble said,
    my question would be “what gave it a heart attack in the first place?”

    Did it spy it’s own reflection on some reflective surface in the garden and frighten itself to death, with my own fear to the serpent I find this a plausible reason, lol. This does however open a trove of questioning. Do you guys in the UK set out mouse / rat bait to control the rodent population? I could see where if a snake were to ingest a mouse that has ingested poison I could see were the snake would die without any outward evidence.

    Oh well, just a few rambling thoughts for your consideration, take care, be careful. – G

  5. I had no idea that you had venomous snakes in the UK... really? An Adder? I thought the most dangerous thing over there was the hedgehog. Well, I stand corrected and I will be more careful on my UK holidays in future.

    Dead in the middle of the grass like that is just plain spooky... The only dead snakes I have ever seen are the run over on the road type.

    Did you chop it up with the lawnmower?? Euwwwww!!!

  6. Gosh the things you professional gardeners come across (do I rightly remember a ram/goat by a postbox from a previous post?) Looks like a lady adder - maybe she died from a broken heart. The deadlier of the species no doubt. And as for the Cryptomeria - wrong place makes it uglier than it is

    p.s. seman is my word verification - bit close to the mark these random word selections

  7. Maybe it was in a coma?

    I remember Noriyuki Haga taking the head off a cobra with his knee on the inside of a bend at Sepang once. (I spotted the Rossi pic so figured you'd know what I'm talking about).