Tuesday, May 8, 2012

the hissings of summer lawns

I seem to be running into a lot of snakes these days.  That should not be a surprise to me.  Anyone who spends time along natural shorelines in the south is very likely to be in the neighborhood of a snake or two.

I posted a photograph I shot of a snake on my last walkabout.  I was asked by a few people if it was a water moccasin.  I knew that it was not a moccasin, but I was incorrect in thinking it was a northern water snake.

Out on a boat this morning on Back Bay I saw a few more snakes.  Fortunately, I was with some wildlife biologists who were both thrilled to see the snakes and happy to identify them for me.  At the top is a banded water snake.  This is, I now believe, the same type of snake I photographed on the walkabout.

And above is a northern water snake, which is often mistaken for a water moccasin because of similar coloration.  Moccasins, which we had fleeting glimpses of today but not enough time to photograph, have a triangular "viper" head and a much thicker body.

Both the northern water snake and the banded water snake are non-poisonous.  But that doesn't mean they won't bite you.

This last one is the banded water snake, the same one in the very top photograph.

I have never had a problem with snakes.  But when I am walking along or near natural shorelines, I do watch where I step.


1 comment:

Bill said...

My undergrad degree is a B.S. in Biology, with an emphasis on ecology and vertebrate anatomy. I studied under one of the leading herpetologists in the U.S. (herpetology being the study of reptiles). One thing I learned is that snakes in general are very beneficial to humans, although most people don't believe it, and another thing is that the vast majority of snakes you might encounter are utterly harmless to you.

There are about 40 species of snakes in Virginia, only THREE of which are venomous. And two of those species have limited distribution in Virginia. The other 30+ species are harmless, even if they're brightly colored. So the vast odds are that any snake you encounter is going to be harmless.

And yet, so many people just KNOW that the snake they just came across in their garage or yard is venomous, so they have to kill it. I hate it when I see someone going nuts after something like a garter snake, rat snake or rough green snake and hacking it to death with a shovel. Snakes are just plain cool, and the best thing to do is just leave them alone. For some reason, a lot of people get stupid around a snake.