6.11.2005

Snake Daze

I realized I hadn't posted any snake pictures in a while. So, with apologies to Keith, here are some photos of some slithery creatures we have seen recently...

(Keith, I'm giving you time to change your mind about scrolling down to the picture...the first one is of a venomous snake...)

(Last chance! I won't be responsible for adverse reactions...)


My husband found this very cooperative Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) on the road to his office this morning. He didn't want the snake to get hit and he knew I needed a picture of a copperhead, so he brought it to me for a photo session before he returned it to its home.

(DO NOT handle venomous snakes unless you are trained to do so!!! They can inflict painful bites that can make you quite ill.)



Notice the vertical pupil and the little pit in front of the eye. Cooperheads are our most numerous venomous snake.

I happen to think they are one of our prettiest snakes as well.



This one was a bit dinged-up for some reason. It will look a little better after it sheds.


Another snake we encountered during a recent walk was this Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platyrhinos). Hognose snakes vary greatly in their color patterns. This one was almost completely black.



You can't see it in the picture, but the hognose has a cute little up-turned snout.

When provoked, this snake can put on an elaborate act. Generally it starts with loud hissing and a flattening of the head. If you keep on pestering it, it will usually roll over onto its back, stick out its tongue and pretend to be dead. Despite all of its show, the hognose (a.k.a. "spreading adder" or "blowing viper") rarely even attempts to bite. Toads are one of its favorite foods.

Here is a view of the flattened head. Some of the snake's pattern is visible with the scales spread out.





Many snakes put on quite a show when they feel threatened. My dog got this rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta) all riled up one day last week. It was coiling and vibrating its tail against the ground. Very impressive. Rat snakes will strike if you push them too far.

The rat snake is non-venomous and is perhaps our most common snake. They can grow to about 85 inches in length.





Last, but not least, I would like to share a picture of one of my favorite snakes, the black racer (Coluber constrictor). We have quite a few of these snakes around our house. They seem to slide effortlessly through the grass -- often you only get a glimpse of their tails as they race off. But when cornered, they are very aggressive. They will lunge at you and vibrate their tails against the leaves -- a display designed to get you back off. Usually works. Racers are non-venomous.




(You still with me, Keith? Yeah, I knew you'd look. Remember, it's exposure therapy. Breathe. Snakes really are such amazing animals...I hope you can one day overcome your aversion to them.)

16 comments:

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

That last one is searching for orange sherbert I just know it.

Anvilcloud said...

Remind me to stay in the less snakey Great White North.

cookie jill said...

They are such lovely intriguing creatures! (at a distance, though)

lené said...

What a collection! Thanks for putting tidbits in about each and using the word "cute" to describe a snake snout. Made me smile.

Watchmania said...

This was fascinating to read - thank you. We have hardly any snake species in the UK - just grass snakes, which are non-venomous, smooth snakes (very rare here), and adders (Vipera berus) which are venomous but shy peaceniks by nature. We also have slow worms, which look like snakes but are really legless lizards. Lovely to see some of your swamp snakes.

swamp4me said...

We have legless lizards here as well. Instead of "slow worms" they are called "glass snakes."

During the warm months I come into contact with snakes on nearly a daily basis. The only times I have ever been bitten are the times I have been trying to catch a snake that would rather not have been caught :)

Jenn said...

So... How big *is* that copperhead? He looks pretty thick.

I love the hognose trick. "Look, I've been run over by a truck. Really!" What evolutional benefit did that have prior to the auto age?

And you've never experienced a black racer the way I once did. We were in an overgrown fallow pasture, and I was watching my littler sibs (I was about 11 or 12, they were 6 and 4...) we had a large black snake CHASE US. Now I am sure that it thought the pitter-pat of our little feet was a bunny or something, and once it got close enough to realize we were BIG, it veered off to the creek - But it was about the freakiest snake experience I've had.

And the saddest snake story I have is of my idiot neighbors that cornered and killed a sizable garter snake because it was a 'rattler' and might bite one of them or their teenage sons. We live in a low area with a canal not far off - I was curious after all the rukus to see if it WAS one of our reclusive Massasaugas, but of course it wasn't. Very sad.

chryscat said...

*hyperventilating slighty, but still conscious*
Oh good grief!
Yeah. I've seen copperheads up close and personal. Swampy, I prefer your pictures. Truly.
And I don't care if a snake is having a tea party. I'm out of there. They don't need to flatten or thump anything for me. Nope. Nada. Uh uh.
Sorry. They still just creep me out.
Hey swampy! You want I should send you pictures of cows? LMAO
Grins*

swamp4me said...

Hehe...pictures of cows don't bother me...just don't put me in the pasture with the horrid beasties! Cows...they're evil aliens from outspace... *g*

*shudders and looks over shoulder*

catherine said...

Wow, what a neat site. I used to be so afraid of snakes, when you could see them everywhere. Now that I like them and want to see them a lot, they've become practically extinct. Didn't realize copperheads had such a beautiful pattern.

Also love those snapping turtles.
Catherine

Wayne said...

Hognose are such clowns. They have an amazing repertoire. I don't know about there, but around here all the fearless snake killers claim it was a copperhead. Last time I checked it was a king snake. Irony.

Keith, RN said...

Hey, Swampy, thanks for the heads up. My wife hopes that the exposure therapy cures me of my ill. So, yeah, I looked at the pictures (shuddering). Not so bad, really, just some queasiness in the stomach. I may need a Compazine tonight, says the nurse. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and good humor.... : )

Dean said...

So where are the water moccasins? I was sure you would have them in your swamp. (I grew up in Kansas with the moccasins, copperheads, etc. but now enjoy life in Ontario with only the rare rattlers to worry about.) There are very few snakes up here in the north compared to the southern U.S.

Mia, the Nature Nut said...

Great photos - I like snakes (at least in theory). Here in Ontario, the most exciting snake I run across is a garter snake.

the dharma bum said...

cool snakes and nice photos!

a friend of mine who lives in western wisconsin had a 3.5 foot long massasauga in his garage a week or two ago.

got it into a big tupperware bin and a guy drove 4 hours from u of wisconsin to measure it etc, before they let it back out to wander the woods. pretty neat encounter, though i'm not a big fan of live snakes in my personal space either.

lené said...

Saw an interesting article about snakes on ENN news. Thought you might be interested. :)

"Snakes Have Interesting Habits, Researchers Say"

http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=7940