A very welcome visitor
This is a Texas rat snake, an absolutely beautiful and very useful reptile. This particular one was curled up in the corner of my back porch where he had been herded by my cat, Nicholas. At first I didn't know what species he was but since he didn't appear to be aggressive, I ran for the camera to take a picture hoping I could identify him later, and it worked! Peterson Field Guides' Reptiles and Amphibians revealed his identity. All that was left was to distract Nicholas so the snake could be on his way. Mission accomplished, I congratulated myself on having such a worthwhile resident in my backyard. It's enough to make a habitat gardener proud.