Earlier this week, my maternal grandparents brought me a few tractor-bucket-loads of mulch for our flower beds. This mulch has been "waiting" (ripening?) down near the pond for a good while, and it seems very nice and. . . mulchy.
Ok, I don't know all that much about mulch, really, but there are lots of earthworms in it and it seems like good stuff.
Actually, earthworms aren't the only things I've found in it.
I think this is a black rat snake's egg. So far, I've found at least five of them.
When I came across the first one or two of them-- separately, and on different days-- I didn't pay them much heed. I assumed they were cocoons and didn't give them a second thought. (Yes, yes, I know they don't really have the same texture as a cocoon. Attribute it to the effects of heat on the brain.) But then I found three together in one shovelful of mulch, and something clicked:
Huh... Three of them in one spot? That seems a bit excessive. --Wait a minute! What if these are... (DUN DUN DUNNNNN!!) snake eggs?!?!
The mental image of multiple baby moccasins hatching all around our yard slithered before my eyes. I then proceeded to have a (very brief) mini freak-out and-- well, for the sake of any snake-lovers who may stumble upon this, I won't go into the gruesome details of what followed. . .
After making a phone call to Mom (because moms know something about everything, right?) and doing a little research of my own, I came to the comforting conclusion that these were not moccasin eggs. (For one thing, most pit vipers-- including moccasins-- don't lay eggs.)
On the Internet, some photos of black rat snake eggs seem a good match for "my" eggs, and my grandparents even remarked (before we knew about the eggs) that they saw a black rat snake on the piles of mulch right before picking up a load for me. So. They're probably black rat snake eggs, which is a huge relief. I can live with rat snakes much more happily than with moccasins.
After the. . . incident. . . with the group of three eggs, I've kept my eyes peeled for more eggs, and I raked through mulch I'd already put down, where I thought I remembered seeing a "cocoon" earlier in the day. So far, I've only found two more-- one of which was the model in my photographs.
I placed these two eggs out on the edge of the property. I do feel guilty for killing those other ones. . . Especially considering that whatever they'd have eaten would have been food from the lips (do snakes have lips? (g)) of my mortal enemies, Messrs. Moccasin and Diamondback-Rattler. However, I'm not sure that they'll even hatch. Based on some of what I've read online, they may have been jostled around too much to survive.
And there you have it-- my spellbinding tale of finding snake eggs. ;o)
Oh, and (P.S.) thank you for the mulch, Granny and Grandpa! It really is making a big difference in the looks of the yard, already! I bet all those earthworms will help improve the soil, too!