Spiders and Snakes and Bunnies, Oh My!

Critter Photos by Brian A. Hopkins

The "Spider Outside My Window" page was so popular, that I decided to throw up a page featuring some of the other critters outside my window, in and around my house.  You'll find more spiders, as well as some more cuddly things.  Enjoy!

Those who enjoyed the pictures of my golden garden spider (from the Summer of 2001) were quick to ask whether any of her offspring stuck around for the Summer of 2002.  At first I thought all the hatchlings left me -- and knowing I missed her, my son even brought a golden garden spider home from Tulsa with him -- but then, late in the Summer, we found this beauty out in front of the house.  There's no way of knowing, of course, but I like to think that she's one of mine and not an interloper.

Here she is preparing to wrap up a wheel bug, which is a member of the assassin bug family.  If you remember from last year, it was one of these nasty bugs that stung the crap out of me.  (As you can see, my vendetta against the nasty devils continues.)  I didn't know what they were at the time, but several fans have emailed me now to educate me.  There sure are a lot of bug fans out there on the Internet, something that I didn't know until I put up the "Spider Outside My Window" webpage.  I've now heard from so many people who appreciate the golden garden spiders -- most even send me pictures of their spider.

And here -- Surprise!  Surprise! -- we managed to find a juvenile golden garden spider.  They look much like the adult, but much smaller, thinner, and the coloring's a bit different.  Totally cool finding this little lady, as it means the population is doing well.  Had to shoot this photo at night in order to get the camera's autofocus to focus on the spider and not everything in the background.

 

Also outside this year, we have this lovely araneus cavaticus.  She could be an offspring from the cavaticus featured last year.  I'm quite pleased with this close up shot of her.

And we have this ugly, hairy bugger living just a foot away from the cavaticus.  This is probably just another cavaticus, but she looked different.  Her legs featured a lovely red color (which you can see in the next picture) and her underside had two white dots, like eyes.  As you can see, she was missing a leg ...

...though that didn't seem to hinder her when feasting on assassin bugs.  Heh heh.

Another araneus cavaticus.  Shot this one at night, too.

And a totally new specimen.  Don't know what kind of spider this is. For the moment, I'm calling it the "Whassat?!?!? Spider."  Also shot at night.

 

We get other bugs in and around my house, including this scorpion.  Everyone but me in my family has been stung by these devils.  Evidently it hurts quite a bit.  My wife's foot swelled up and she couldn't walk on it for several hours after being bitten by one.  We'll always remember the first night we moved into the new house, right after it had been built.  Once the lights were turned off for the night, these nasty buggers starting crawling out from under the baseboards.  We must have killed six or eight of them in a couple hours' time.  Betty and the kids were terrified of them, and everyone wound up sleeping in the same bed.  We still call it "The Night of the Scorpions."  LOL.  Of course, now they're common place (though we generally only see two or three of them a year).  When you see one, you either kill it and move on or you pick it up with the tongs for a photo op.

Not all the bugs around here are scary.  This is a gorgeous moth that I found one day.

Summer and I like to find these locust (?) husks and hang them on our clothing.

Remember the tunnel spiders from last year?  I still have a bazillion of them around my house and in our woods.  Wanted to share with you this absolutely humongous tunnel spider web in a tree out back.  The tunnel actually goes down into a hole in the tree, where the spider is waiting for an unsuspecting assassin bug to get caught in the web.

 

My fascination with critters began at an early age.  Here I am at my grandmother's in Pennsylvania.  She raised and showed Pomeranians.  There were always twenty or thirty to play with.  What do you think I'm thinking here?  Yeah, that's what I think.  Wonder if I got in trouble for letting them loose?

Furry critters are without a doubt the most fun.  We get a lot of rabbits around the house.  There have been years when we counted as many as five of them chasing each other around the yard at one time.  Every couple years, we'll either catch a baby wandering about before it's really ready to be out on its own or one of the dogs will unearth a nest of them.  Here's a picture of Summer with a baby rabbit.

Cute little buggers, aren't they?  We also get these little pocket gophers in the yard.  They're cute, too.  Unfortunately, they tear up my yard, so I wind up having to shoot them.  The rabbits are welcome, though.

Heck, the rabbits are so cute, they deserve three photos on the page.

 

We like slimy critters, too.  Here's a leopard frog sitting on the deck railing out by the swimming pool.  He's pretty good size, since that's a two by six that he's sitting on.

And here's a cool little tree frog, spotted on the same bushes that seem to draw in the assassin bugs. Maybe he eats them?

From slimy, we go to scaly.  I like snakes.  If the wife would let me, I'd probably have a big boa or python as a pet.  Excuse the hair in this picture.  I was asleep on the couch when the kids came in to tell me they had spotted a snake out front.  When I went out and caught it, there were actually two.  And excuse that idiotic tongue-stuck-out expression.  I must have been trying to communicate with the snakes.

My neighbors have the typical reaction to snakes when they see them.  Find something and cut the poor thing's head off.  This was a very large black snake that the lady across the street found on her back porch.  Rather than kill it, she called me (though, I imagine, if her husband had been home, she'd have sent him out to kill it).  Here I was, just trying to save this snake's life, but he wanted to bite me in the worst possible way, hence my holding his head in my left hand.  Note the two apprentice snakehunters; the one on my left (your right) is my daughter Summer, of course.

 

Baby snakes are fun, 'cause most everyone's willing to play with them.  Here are two we found around some bushes near our house.

They're cute enough to deserve two pics, doncha think?

 

And, finally, biggest disappointment this spring, was when a cardinal built a nest and laid her eggs in a juniper beside our front door.

We watched the little rascals hatch.

And we watched her feed them.  But sadly, there was a major storm that came through one night -- the works: heavy downpour, lightning, high winds, hail -- and it killed all four babies.  I feel bad, 'cause maybe I should have done something for them; though I don't know what I could have done short of pulling the nest out of the bushes and bringing it inside.  We're hoping the cardinals will come back and build their nest there next spring.

Until next time, pay attention to the wildlife around your own home, whether it be large or small, scaly or slimy or fuzzy-cute.  Let me know what critters you're watching. 

 


Copyright 2011 Brian A. Hopkins, 2011-07-31 11:04, www.bahwolf.com