This week, I saw a snake in Germany for the very first time. Regrettably, it was a dead snake I found by the side of the road on a small bike outing. I immediately pulled over, went back to retrieve it (as I was wearing gloves anyhow) and showed it to my father (who said “eek”) for identification, (as he is in all things nature, due to his lovely childhood, an expert).
It was a Ringelnatter (natrix natrix) also known in Britain as a grass snake. Odd name, since they tend to live in water or wet surroundings. I have often noticed them swimming on the surface of the lakes while I was fishing, but I have never seen one close up. They are not dangerous, and do not tend to bite. And they are on the “Red List” in Germany, meaning they are threatened with extinction.
One of the downsides of having retired persons living on the same property is that while you are virtually tied to your desk, having to earn a living, the retired persons can do things of their choice all day long such as going fishing.
My father went down to the river and brought these two lovely samlets home for lunch:
My father always brings the fish he catches to me for cleaning. I have no problem with that and it’s one of the reasons I have a big box of surgical gloves in the house – not because I find it gross to clean fish – but to prevent my hands from smelling like fish for the rest of the day.
I set to clean the samlings, and though both of them contained roe, one of them had eggs in it that were almost as large as a pea. Well aware of the fact that they probably could not have been fertilized if they were in the fish’s belly, I nevertheless collected them into a bowl and went to the garden pond were I gently deposited them in the water between the reeds on the edge. I figure if they hatch, fine, if not, the gold fish will have a special treat.
As I got up from my kneeling position on the edge of the water, I felt something bite me in the knee. I looked down and saw this almost 1 inch long Kreuzspinne (Araneus diadematus) spider attached to my knee. I immediately got hysterical, screamed continuously, flailed with my arms and stomped my feet. In short, acted like an idiot. Tobi came running out of the house at top speed, presumably to “rescue me”, but didn’t quite know what to make of my behavior. I quickly brushed the spider off of my knee and later collected her to photograph her and put her back by the edge of the water.
As anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows, I don’t mind spiders in the least, but then again I have never had one bite me before either. Araneus diadematus kill their bait by biting it and injecting it with poison. Luckily, I was a bit big for her.
Oh, and the samlets were wonderful. Big enough portion that we got my nephews to help us eat it all.