Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good (Genesis 1: 20-25 NASB).
As I age, I have a greater appreciation for all forms of life. I am most aware of “critters” in the springtime when birds are building nests and snakes and lizards are warming themselves in the sun.
I saw a woodpecker feeding its young through a hole in a dead pine tree the other day. I even caught the event on video. The baby birds appeared to be quite large. I guess they left the nest soon after I taped them. I haven’t seen them since. Many birds visit the birdfeeder on my windowsill. Even woodpeckers visit the birdfeeder if peanuts are part of the mix. Cardinals, finches, and chickadees come to the birdfeeder every day. But occasionally an unwelcomed guest successfully raids the birdfeeder, which is two-stories up from the ground.
A few weeks ago, I practically stumbled upon a copperhead. It was stretched out on the walkway several feet from where I stood. The copperhead froze. So did I. When afraid, copperheads don’t run away. They keep still and blend in with the environment. Their light brown and coppery skin enables them to camouflage among leaves and pine needles. In fact, their colors are so neutral that copperheads can be hard to spot even on sidewalks and patios. I’ve have more than one close encounter with copperheads but always came to a screeching halt in time to avoid trouble.
Copperhead venom is rarely fatal to humans and pets. My cat Pickles was bitten by a poisonous snake–most likely a copperhead–several years ago. I didn’t see the snake but saw the fang marks embedded in the cat’s paw. No doubt the cat was playing with the snake. The cat became sick instantly, exhibiting all the symptoms of a venomous snake bite. I took him to a late-night emergency veterinary hospital where he was treated symptomatically (no anti-venom). I was amazed to find the cat looking and acting normal the next day.
Most bites occur when someone steps on a copperhead by mistake or when he tries to kill the snake. The best thing to do is walk away, and you’ll probably never see the snake again–especially if you live in or near the woods. Copperheads want to avoid people just at much as people want to avoid them. (Check out snake removal or a critter control company if you need snake or other wildlife removal from your home or property.) Copperheads are good in that they eat vermin. Black racer snacks are even better because not only do they eat rodents but sometimes copperheads.
I encountered a couple of black snakes copulating the other day. (I don’t know if they were black racers or black ratsnakes.) When I first saw their intertwined bodies, I thought they were fighting, but the impression was short-lived. I stayed away knowing that black snake mating rituals mean fewer mice in the future.
King David often referred to animals in the Psalms. One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 42. It begins like this: As a deer longs for a stream of cool water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for you, the living God. When can I go and worship in your presence (verses 1-2, GNT). Many believe that David wrote some of his Psalms at Ein Gedi, David’s stronghold when King Saul was pursing him to harm him. Ein Gedi is known for its ibex, waterfall, caves, and rock badgers.