An unwelcome guest

A resident Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosa) on our office campus seemed to have spotted something interesting on a nearby (unidentified) tree. By noon, our entire campus had heard the news: A 5 and 1/2 feet (atleast) snake was up on the tree! Being so large, it left quite a big rustle on the tree as it moved from place to place. From the moment it went up, the activity on the tree was went from nothing to buzzing!

Initially, we thought the snake had an eye on a Crow’s nest. There were no eggs in the nest. But the sight of snake on the tree had set the crows to a mobbing spree. The crows came close to the snake and one even attempted to peck it. The persistent snake then took cover, by wedging itself between two barks. Since there was leaf-cover over it, the birds were unable to reach it. But after about an hour, the snake again began to move around the tree. And the crows were at it once again.

Crows cawing at the snake

It did not seem like the snake was headed towards the nest. It kept flicking it’s tongue to keep itself aware of all things around it.

Tongue flicking

A while later, 2-3 House Mynas joined the crow. They came near the snake and called loudly. Only once did it try to peck the snake. But for the most part, they just made a ruckus. The snake tried to move away from the Mynas. And then two Red-Whiskered Bulbuls joined the Mynas!

Notice the snake at the bottom-centre, the House Myna at 1’o clock position and the Bulbul in 10’o clock position.

In the above photo, can you see the arc-like branch on which the snake is resting…? Well the bottom of the arc-branch hosted yet another animal!

The curious squirrel !!

An overly curious juvenile palm squirrel was going dangerously close to the snake and calling loudly. It would go up till it was just a few centimetres away from the snake and then it would run back down the branch. It kept doing this. It seemed the squirrel was more curious than scared. In fact, the snake was atleast 5 and half feet long and it could have easily taken the squirrel. But I think at this point, the snake was just bored. From the time the snake made it’s way up the tree, the other inhabitants created a huge ruckus.

Contrary to what many people think, snakes are unlikely to get “stuck” on the tree. They are fairly proficient climbers and often go up in search of potential preys. They also know how to get down and how to evade their enemies. Today however, was not a productive day for this rat snake. The tree’s inhabitants and the neighbours were clear in their message: Get out of our tree! The snake soon made its way down the tree effortlessly and moved away into the foliage on the ground.

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My name is Adithi Muralidhar. I am a nature enthusiast based in Mumbai, India.

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