Monday, September 05, 2005

Animal of the Week September 05, 2005 -- one be deadly they both are armless

Apologies one and all, a press day and wave of sickness prevented yesterday's regular service. But you know I'll deliver in the end, like a genial local milkman with a crate full of bunnies. Although, if I put bunnies in my crates with this animal of the week, they'd likely be a bit upset. This week's animal is actually two species (a first for AOTW) Micrurus fulvius and Lampropeltis triangulum (eastern coral snake and scarlet king snake, respectively), but I can't discuss one without the other, and sending a picture of only one would be like having a poster of just Sonny Bono (please don't scrutinise that simile, it doesn't work). Coral snakes are poisonous, really quite so, and their bite can be fatal to humans let alone smaller predators that might like to eat a snake (for example, a fox). King snakes are not poisonous, but because they look like coral snakes, predators (for example, a fox) avoid them in preference for less threatening species (for example, bunnies). If only foxes could speak or at least write, they'd be able to remember the simple rhyme "Red on yellow, kill a fellow, red on black won't hurt Jack" (see the red bands abut the yellow stripes on the coral snake but touch the black on king snake) and merrily they would dine on king snakes. This form of mimicry is called Batesian mimicry after someone whose surname was Bates, possibly Cathy and/or Simon (another example of Batesian mimicry). Interestingly, coral snakes sometimes eat king snakes. Anyway, that's me nearly done for another week, but before I go, does anyone know what WC Fields is on about?
"I always keep a supply of stimulant handy in case I see a snake, which I also keep handy."W. C. Fields


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