It's A Jungle Out There

In my yard, that is.

We've recently had our trees and hedges pruned and to deal with all the cuttings, I bought a 6.5 hp chipper/shredder machine (my electric shredder couldn't hack it) and we've now got a mountain of mulch for weed control and composting.

Just before the trimming started I went to the back of the house to survey the weeds and found this fellow hanging from a Japanese plum (ume) tree.

It's an aodaisho (lit. "green general") or Japanese rat snake. Quite common in Japan, we see them often around here. They aren't venomous and eat rodents, frogs, and lizards mostly as well as bird eggs. Coloration varies. I found this one quite beautiful and well camouflaged for our weed patch. It was about a meter long, which is good sized, but not as big as the first aodaisho I saw back in 2005 and wrote about in the post "The Mild Mannered Snake".


ladybug said...

Good it's not poisonous! It looks a bit bigger than the occasional garter snake..... The backyard looks like a wonderful jumble - are the pink blossoms on the right from some kind of vetch? Also are the plants in the left of the picture a type of cleaver (sometimes called bedstraw)? Thank goodness all the rattlers are east of the Cascades!

K and S said...

I would have still screamed!

Anonymous said...

To ladybug,
You're right. The pink flower is called Karasu-no-endo or bush vetch. They are edible. The orange flower is Nagami-hinageshi(a kind of harmless poppy).

The World Tour said...

Wow! What a beautiful snake.

Don Snabulus said...

I like the picture and extra info in the comments. It is a beautiful snake.

Pandabonium said...

Thanks for all the comments. I am always amazed at the wildlife here - I just didn't expect it in Japan. Sometime I'll figure out how to post some of the bird calls we hear everyday, if not pics since the birds are more difficult to capture with a camera.

Arkonbey said...

A meter long? Jeezum, that's pretty big. Even liking snakes and knowing it's not venomous, I'd still jump a bit. Also, I find it's name to be awesome. Or main rodent-vore is just called the Milk Snake. Nowhere near as cool as Green General.

A bird call post would be sweet! Please do it. I've always wondered about non-U.S. birds.

Sweet Enemy and I went to a birding talk at our local library last week. The speaker went through over a dozen local birds and their calls. When we got home that night, we couldn't remember a single one! We just sat outside going: "she did that one. And that one. And that one..."

The Moody Minstrel said...

There are actually two species of poisonous snake that live in our area. The more dangerous is the Japanese pit viper, or mamushi. They can be rather aggressive, and like all pit vipers, they hunt by sensing heat and are prone to bite anything warm that comes within range. I've heard that their venom is more likely to cause intense pain, tissue necrosis, and spontaneous bleeding than kill (small comfort, I know). I've never seen one personally, but I've heard they live around farmland, particularly in marshy areas such as rice paddies. The other type is the Japanese grass snake, or yamakagashi. They aren't aggressive and really have to be pushed to bite. Moreover, their fangs are in the backs of their mouths (leading to the nickname "backbiter"). If they do bite you, however, they deliver a nasty neurotoxin that is liable to leave you with severe nerve damage if not paralysis if it doesn't kill you. I have seen them in my own yard, once with a frog in its mouth, and they are strikingly beautiful. Once I opened my car door and started to step out just in time to have one casually scoot by right where I would have put my foot down.

I see the aodaisho (rat snakes) around every once in a while, too. They're big, mild-mannered things, intimidating but harmless for the most part.

Once when I was going for a walk in my neighborhood I saw an aodaisho tangling with a tanuki (raccoon dog). THAT was fun to watch!

More info and pics here.

Pandabonium said...

Crikey mate! I've not heard of mamushi before.

I've seen yamakagashi a few times. They are pretty I agree. I don't think they're a big threat unless you give them a part of your body to gnaw on - I guess if you stuck a hand into a place one was hiding it could get you.

My main concern with any poisonous snakes around here is keeping Momo from being curious.

I saw a tanuki once, but a snake and a tanuki going at it? now that would be interesting.

Thanks for the nice link.