2 - Black Rat Snake

Abigail Black 11/15/2023
June 16, 2021. Having been inspired by the squirrel, I started stuffing my pockets with plastic bags when I went on walks. One lovely morning in June, I was almost home when I spotted a black rat snake in the road gutter, bludgeoned to death by someone's shovel. Truly, it wasn't necessary, even sad, because black rat snakes are nonvenomous and eat mice and rats! In any case, I bagged it, gleefully showed my bounty to my dad (who looked a bit ill but happy for me), and took the corpse to my decomposition box. Since I was all out of fine mesh, I just used the plastic bag to keep the small bones from falling through the 1/4" hardwire mesh of the box's floor.

June 16. Still the same day. Six hours after deposit, flies already laid eggs in the open wounds and mouth of the snake.

June 18. The larvae hatched and already going to town. I was frankly amazed at how fast this process was going. It took the squirrel practically two weeks to get to this point!

June 19. The meat was practically gone already, leaving the scales slumped over the skeletal structure.

June 21. Now even the scales were disappearing. This is less than a week, folks, from fresh to this.

June 20. I could finally see the bones and boy oh boy was harvest going to be just wallops of fun. All vertebrae and ribs, yay.

June ??? I forgot to take a picture of the harvest, but it included finding an old piece of plywood and some sawhorses for me to put the snake-bag on because kneeling over the box for this would kill my back. I grabbed the plastic measuring cup, gloves, and tweezers, and set to work. What scales were left practically dissolved at the touch, and all the flesh was gone. However, there was a cord of nerves still semi-solid through the vertebrae, so that needed to be worked around. Around an hour into the harvest, I got stung by a hornet in the back of the knee. Ouch. I had to pause to put some honey on the sting, returned with a new pair of gloves, and accidentally bumped the plywood and knocked the harvested bones to the ground! So then I lost a good inch or two's worth of snake, because I know I didn't find all the bones in the grass. After I thought I harvested all the bones, I dumped the remains in the trash can. I put 2 parts hydrogen peroxide 1 part water in the measuring cup and let that sit for a while. Then I drained the fluid and put the bones in an aluminum baking tin and put that in the sun for around a week. Then, when I deemed the bones sufficiently sun bleached, I slapped a lid on and shelved that project because I am still not up to squinting at identical vertebrae smaller than my pinky nail and ribs thin as a wire for hours.

This project is currently incomplete.