A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

September 15, 2007

More Surprises – but not quite as welcome!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, Family, General — alpacalady @ 7:02 am

Tarantula Up CloseWednesday, the day of Carrisima’s birth turned out to be full of surprises.  First there was there was the birth of Carrisima three weeks earlier than expected and then there were other surprises during evening chores.

My friend Linda had really hoped to see a cria being born and unfortunately missed that hope by one day, the other hope she had while she was here was that she would not see any snakes or even worse, to her, a tarantula.   When Linda visited us on a previous occasion with her husband Dick they had found a tarantula in the garage and while Dick was fascinated with it Linda did not take to it at all.  Give Linda her due she tried to take a good look at the hairy arachnid but she just couldn’t bring herself to get close to it.

Wednesday evening as I was doing chores I walked into the pen with the younger male alpacas and noticed under their hay feeder a small snake.  Closer inspection revealed it to be a Bull Snake or Gopher Snake.  Had it been a Rattle Snake it would not have been welcome but Bull Snakes are said to keep the mice down so I thought I would let it stay, however I really didn’t feel too comfortable leaving it in the boys pen so tried to catch it.  I then discovered that small snakes are not easy to catch, it wriggled away from me and headed off to the adult males pen.  The adult male alpacas were out grazing at this time and so I thought I would have time to catch the snake and relocate it – the snake though had other ideas.  After chasing the snake around a tree several times and then watching it climb the tree I was starting to feel that the snake was winning this battle.  When the snake dropped off the tree and coiled into a striking position I realized that I really wasn’t very adept a catching small snakes and having made the poor thing mad I should leave it alone to cool off for a while.  The adult male alpacas were still happily grazing and so I decided to see to their pen last and if the snake was still there at that time I would have to come up with an alternative plan to remove it.

I continued on with chores and headed down to the bottom pasture where we have four older male alpacas.  As I walked along the path I noticed something large and black ambling toward me – a tarantula!  The tarantula was about four inches from toe to toe and black and hairy as tarantula’s are. 

In eastern New Mexico we often see tarantulas in late September as they migrate.  In some areas the roads are literally crawling with them during this mass migration period and it’s quite interesting to figure out how to drive on the road without killing the tarantulas.

The tarantula I saw on Wednesday evening was alone; I couldn’t see any others anywhere nearby (and they are large enough that you can see them quite easily).  It turns out that I am much more of a tarantula hunter than a snake hunter as I was easily able to catch the tarantula in a bucket (not before I took his/her picture though).  Again I didn’t really want the tarantula too close to the alpacas and so I took him South to a ploughed field and set him free.  He was headed in that direction anyway so I at least saved him walking that distance.

By the time I had finished with the tarantula it was time to go back to the pen where the snake was and bring in the big boys.  I checked the pen carefully and the snake was no-where to be seen so hopefully he had gone somewhere where he felt more comfortable.

It had been a week for snakes as earlier in the week Ric caught a larger Bull Snake when he was working on a fence.  It actually bit him, fortunately he was wearing thick leather gloves, but it still grazed the skin on his hand.  Being Ric he then had to catch it and bring it to Linda and me to look at.  That snake was about 1 ½ inches in diameter and it made a pretty good attempt at squeezing Ric’s arm, so good that I had to unwrap it from Ric’s arm so he could set it free (be assured Ric had a tight hold of it’s head while I unwrapped the snake).

So Linda missed out on the excitement at our place in more ways than one, we told her she shouldn’t leave but she insisted on going home and consequently missed all of the fun.  I know she would have dearly loved to see Carissima born, but I suspect that she is breathing a sigh of relief knowing that she missed out on more snakes and one lovely hairy tarantula!


1 Comment »

  1. You are so right Rosie. While I am dismayed at missing Carissima’s arrival – I am SO glad to have missed the tarantula and other bull snake. Why would you try to avoid tarantulas on the road I ask? My skin is itching already at the thought of a close encounter again. Fun of the creepy or slithery sort I can miss without regret thank you!

    Comment by Linda Pottinger — September 15, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

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