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Lava River Cave

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Lava River Cave, Bend, Oregon

  Bring your flashlights! This cave is cool and dark and home to one of my favorite mammals, bats! When the bats are hibernating, the cave may be closed to human visitors for their protection. The forest rangers are also making sure that new visitors are not wearing clothing that had been worn while visiting other caves. The  person entering the cave before me was asked to change her jacket and shoes. The reason for this is to stop the spread of a fungus called White-Nose Syndrome.  If a bat has white coloration around its nose, this is a sign of the fungus, which is very dangerous, even deadly for the bat. The spores of the fungus are invisible and can be carried by humans. I’m happy the rangers are watching out for these little creatures, otherwise we’d have far too many mosquitos!   Lava River Cave Exploring a mile long lava tube


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Bull snake and the Rattlesnake

 

The Owyhee river in southern Oregon provides the perfect habitat for Rattlesnakes. Nearby campers had found two in their campsite the morning I arrived. Although I spent time in a prime Rattlesnake location, I never saw one. Instead,  I was surprised to find another type of snake, the Bull snake. At first glance, Bull snakes may look like Rattlesnakes, but they are very different. The most important difference is that Bull snakes are nonvenomous. The Rattlesnake will give birth to live snakes;  the Bull snake will lay eggs. Bull snakes also constrict. This means they will wrap and coil their bodies around their prey before eating it. They will eat rodents, birds, lizards and bird eggs. As soon as I saw rings around the tail of this snake and no rattle, I didn’t mind sharing the trail.

 

bull snake

Bull snake

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake