This is a baby rat snake perched in the ashwagandha, probably stalking baby anoles. My son and I cheered when we found this baby snake… while we have quite a few avian predators around (Cooper’s hawks, red shouldered hawks, and at least one mated pair of owls) I have only seen two snakes the whole time we’ve lived here. I found at least a dozen snake eggs while I was clearing out the summer garden beds and pulling weeds earlier in the fall but this was the first baby I’ve seen.
The fauna I’m seeing on my property is steadily diversifying. I credit this to non-disturbance and diversifying the flora. I have planted so many new things! Now there are vast hedges of native flowering plants that never get walked through or mowed. We have a small “zone 5” corner that’s almost completely undisturbed and full of birds. We have a lizard sex hotel (a pile of coquina in a sheltered spot). We found an armadillo burrow behind the satsuma trees a couple weeks ago, and we’re leaving it alone. We’ve seen mice in the compost and let them be. The wasps (mostly) live in peace. And because of this, we now have snakes and owls and hawks.