Chimps are very investigative, defensive, and at times aggressive. Combine all these characteristics and add a small garter snake into the equation and you get a whole group of chimps ready to attack an intruder! This morning a garter snake made its way into the greenhouse and the chimps were on high alert. Everyone took a second to peer at it, but most kept their distance. Foxie, however, showed a lot of bravery and was doing her best to protect her home by trying to attack the snake (but without touching it).
The chimps encounter snakes every now and then. They’re very careful not too get too close to something that raises so much alarm, which is a smart instinct. Thankfully, garter snakes are completely harmless so there’s nothing to really worry about if they do touch it. In fact after filming this attack, I closed off the greenhouse and picked up the snake (who was still alive) and took him to a nice garden area that I thought he’d pretty happy about. I apparently don’t have a huge fear of snakes because I was holding him for awhile, talking to volunteers Patti and Connie about how we were going to set up today’s lunch forage, when they said “will you just put that snake down already?!” Like I said, harmless 🙂
The snakes seem to be good at “playing dead” so as not to actually get killed. At the end of the video you’ll see that Jamie was fairly convinced Foxie had taken care of the problem, and then left it alone. I was glad to be able to rescue it and find that he was not at all harmed.