I made a few friends last few weekend!
First is the elusive “Eastern Pretzel Snake”:
In all seriousness, it is an Eastern Milk snake on the verge of shedding its skin. I find milk snakes to be especially pretty but I realize I am in a minority, possibly due to 40+ million years of evolution.
Whether humans are instinctively fearful of of creepy crawlies is an area of active research that has been finding some conflicting results!
Regardless, milk snakes are in the king snake genus meaning their diet includes other snakes, even venomous ones. Logic indicates that those who fear snakes should be internally conflicted at that fact, but phobias rarely allow rational thought; especially if it is literally in our DNA.
There used to be a large, white and orange-tabby cat that patrolled the barn and surrounding area. I have not seen that individual in some time but now there is this white cat. It appears even larger, but it has fluffier fur so a true size comparison is hard to make.
I’m conflicted about outdoor cats, both domestic and feral. One study estimates 1.4 to 6.9 billion birds and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals are killed by cats just in the US. Additionally, an increasing amount of video documentation is capturing a sport hunting behavior where cats kill other animals for amusement rather than sustenance.
While I assume feral and strays are most responsible, there are products available to keep domestic pets from contributing to the statistics. Although the product basically makes your cat look like a clown, it is affordable ($10) and fairly effective. This study found effectiveness at reducing bird kills, but not mammals.
Mostly because I anticipate lacking the fortitude to address the moral hazard presented by the cat but also because I have no scientific way to measure the effect it has on local wildlife, the cat will remain unmolested and considered a pest suppressant with full awareness that the latter point is likely delusional.