We chatted for a bit and I was able to answer all of his questions except one. He and his wife were geocachers and they were working they way from their home in New Jersey to their vacation destination in Emerald Isle, NC, finding caches all along the way. There is one cache immediately adjacent to the park and I am familiar with the location. (By the way, if you are a geocacher, please don't place a cache on a state park in NC without permission!) He told me that when they found the cache and prepared to sign the log book they got what he considered an unpleasant surprise -- a snake! The couple said it looked like a coral snake, orange with white stripes circling the body. I told them that we were a bit too far north for a coral and asked them if they noticed any black on the snake. One said no, the other said yes. Not unusual when two people see the same snake and try to describe it ;)
I told them I would go check it out. At this point I was cautiously optimistic about the possible identity of the snake and I grabbed a container just in case I was correct. The couple needed to be on their way so they gave me their email address and I promised to send them an ID if the snake was still in the cache. They left and I walked over to check the cache...
The snake was still there and, for me, it was the most pleasant of surprises. As I had hoped, the snake turned out to be a Scarlet Kingsnake, Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides. Scarlet kings are secretive little snakes and very hard to find. It put a huge smile on my face to find one in a mailbox of all places!
The snake was a beauty. I handled it briefly, took a few hurried shots and then let it go. A pleasant surprise indeed and a great way to end an otherwise frustrating day.
Click on the photo below to appreciate just how pretty this little snake is.
Be free! Live long and reproduce.