Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Readers Write In: Mystery Snake #1 is eating Mystery Snake #2!


Here are some recent snake identification requests I've received. Please see below for our snake ID post ground rules!

Good morning,


We found the snake shown on the attached picture in front of our house.

Roberto L.
Cooper City, Florida




Good morning David,

Here are some shots of 2 snakes, one dying, one very much alive. (no human intervention involved). I think I know what the live one is. Perhaps your readers might want to take a guess as to either or both. The pictures were taken not far from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Take care,

John A.
Charlotte, North Carolina





What kind of rattlesnake is this? It had nine rattles and I'm 5'7".

Lisa H.
Des Arc, Arkansas




Readers: What Are These Snakes?
-----

Snake Identification Post Ground Rules


-Guesses are welcome and encouraged. Don't worry if you're not an expert, wrong guesses allow us to talk about how to distinguish between the various species and that's why I run these posts.


-If you can't explain why you think a snake is a particular species, go ahead and just say what you think it is. But otherwise please do let us all know how you identified the animal. If you're wrong, we can explain why. If you're right, this helps everyone learn how to identify snakes, which is the goal of these posts.

-You can safely assume that I know what kind of snake is in the picture, I run these posts because they are outreach opportunities. Please don't send me private e-mails with your guesses, include them below.

-Remember, the person that sent me the picture is probably reading your comments. Although it is frustrating to know that many of these snakes have been killed, these people do want to learn more about them. More snake knowledge will lead to fewer snakes being killed.

Monday, October 6, 2014

What Species is this Feces? A New Readers Write In Blog Series

Hi,

Please could you identify the droppings in the attached photo? I regularly see them around the perimeter of a large wild pond.  At some point the "owner" found and ate a nesting coot's egg (shell found). Also, the animal enters and dives to collect fresh water crayfish. Thank you for any help. 

Regards,

Tony
Dorset, UK



Readers: What Species is this Feces?
-----

What Species is this Feces Ground Rules

-Guesses are welcome and encouraged. Don't worry if you're not an expert, wrong guesses allow us to talk about how to distinguish between the various species and that's why I run these posts.

-If you can't explain why you think a feces is a particular species, go ahead and just say what you think it is. But otherwise please do let us all know how you identified the animal. If you're wrong, we can explain why. If you're right, this helps everyone learn how to identify animal scats, which is the goal of these posts.

-I run these posts because they are outreach opportunities. Please don't send me private e-mails with your guesses, include them below.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Readers Write In: A Mixed Bag of Snake Identification Requests




Found this snake trying to get in, Not sure about it. Any help? It is aggressive and its tail quivers just a bluff I'm sure.....

Thanks,

Mike
Pike County, Ohio






Found this snake in my house today and can't really tell 
what it is. Any help identifying it would be much appreciated. 

Thank you,

Geoff B.
South Mississippi





I
'm about 3 miles from the Ashley River, but they installed a retention pond in the school yard behind my house last fall. Should they be a concern for me? Or are they beneficial?

Thanks so much

 for the info.


Ruby
North Charleston, South Carolina


The brown patterns were a lot more brown, nearly 
caramel/toffee in color, and the underbelly was a sandy color. this instant film casts a strong green hue over everything. Also, it was obviously quite young, haha. what's your take? I relocated it off of my parents property, as a precaution and now I feel bad!

Seamus H.
Frederick County, Maryland






I saw this lil' guy on my front porch where my grandson 
plays...at first sight, I thought was a copperhead due to its color, but after looking again, it looks like a young diamondback...only with no apparent rattles. What is it?

George C.
Maurepas, Louisiana


Readers: What Are These Snakes?
-----

Snake Identification Post Ground Rules


-Guesses are welcome and encouraged. Don't worry if you're not an expert, wrong guesses allow us to talk about how to distinguish between the various species and that's why I run these posts.


-If you can't explain why you think a snake is a particular species, go ahead and just say what you think it is. But otherwise please do let us all know how you identified the animal. If you're wrong, we can explain why. If you're right, this helps everyone learn how to identify snakes, which is the goal of these posts.

-You can safely assume that I know what kind of snake is in the picture, I run these posts because they are outreach opportunities. Please don't send me private e-mails with your guesses, include them below.

-Remember, the person that sent me the picture is probably reading your comments. Although it is frustrating to know that many of these snakes have been killed, these people do want to learn more about them. More snake knowledge will lead to fewer snakes being killed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Readers Write In: Relocation of a Surprise Venomous Visitor


A reader sent me this e-mail today and it was such a change of pace from what I usually receive I thought I would feature it as a blog post. It stands in stark contrast to most of the Cottonmouth myths we often hear about. Tell Harold what you think about his story below.

I guess we've been lucky for the several years we've had a
water garden at
our back door. We enjoy the frogs, toads, fish, salamanders, skinks and Yellow-bellied Watersnakes. So, early in the evening of August 29th when the fox terrier found this snake (on right) I first thought it was one of our resident Ratsnakes, just more brown than most, and I would catch it with a net and carry it away. Since I wasn't sure of its identity I went for the camera so I could get a close look without being too close. Once I got the picture up on the computer, I was sorry I didn't relocate this Cottonmouth, even though I wasn't prepared for catching one. By then it had relocated itself, but I didn't know where.

This one never showed any aggression, but we knew we needed to watch out for it and keep the dogs from finding it first. Where were all of those Kingsnakes I had seen last year?

About two weeks later my wife saw the snake early one morning warming itself on the concrete slab adjoining the house foundation, but by the time she alerted me to its presence it had once again relocated itself. I had made a catcher stick and knew exactly what I wanted to do with the Cottonmouth if I was able to catch it.

Last night the terrier located the snake again near the edge of the water garden. When I approached it the snake seemed very unconcerned and again showed no aggression. In fact, I had to poke it to get its head up so I could get my "lasso" around it. I put it into an empty garbage container. Still it showed no displeasure.

I carried it down the road and released it near a stream bed, where I hope it can establish a new home. It seemed anxious to get as far away from me as possible.

Harold Burrows
Williston, TN



I'm glad that this story has a happy ending but I do want to emphasize to everyone out there that I do not recommend capturing or handling venomous snakes unless you are skilled in doing so. 

For a break-down of the things you should consider to help ensure that reptilian relocations away from your property don't result in death sentence for the snake, please check out my previous post on the subject.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Snakes Eat Fish

Last week I highlighted a picture of a Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) eating a catfish (on right) that went viral and freaked a lot of people out. Many refused to ever enter the water again. I mentioned on that post that watersnakes eating things that live in the water, like fish, really isn't that big of a deal. Animals need to eat to live, you know? Fish are even the primary prey for several species of snakes. But you don't have to just take my word for it, I put out a call for more photographic proof and a few folks came through:


Here's a picture of another Northern Watersnake 
eating a catfish in Georgia (photograph by Will Bass).


Here is a Diamond-backed Watersnake (Nerodia rhombifer) eating a catfish from the Tensaw River in southern Alabama (photograph by Jim Godwin).


Here is a Northern Watersnake from Cleveland Ohio eating what appears to be a darter of some sort 
(photograph by Marty Hout).


Finally, here is another Northern Watersnake eating a catfish in Bankhead National Forest, Alabama 
(photograph by Joe Jenkins).


Update: Jason Folt provides this photograph of a baby Northern Watersnake chowing down on...well, I'm not sure what this is.



You see? Snakes eat fish. You don't need to be scared. Do you have a picture of snake eating a fish (preferably a catfish)? Share it below!



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Viral Picture of the Week: Why You Shouldn't Swim in Rivers

    This picture has been popping up a lot lately, sometimes the location is Alabama, sometimes it's Tennessee (and probably some other places that I have missed), but the message is typically the same: Can you believe what's in the lake! I'm never going swimming again!

    Here's the thing: this is a Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon), a very common species on the East Coast of the United States, and the snake is eating a catfish (looks to me like some sort of Channel Catfish). Watersnakes tend to eat things that live in the water, like fish and frogs. So, this is basically a picture of a common snake eating something that they normally eat. This kind of thing happens around us all the time and especially when we're hanging out around the water. We are just not often lucky enough to see it!

    If a watersnake eating a fish is enough to keep you out of the water, then I am sorry to tell you that you are going to have to stick to swimming pools from now on. But, I hope you will realize that a picture of a snake eating a fish is not something to be afraid of and is no more terrifying than a picture of me eating lunch (perhaps less so).

    I think I can trace this viral photo to a couple of Twitter accounts: @TerrorStory and @Unsolved_Scenes. Both of these handles just tweet pictures with dubious explanations but without much in the way of context (or photographer credit). If you check them out, you can see that these accounts have hundreds of thousands of followers between them. The picture of the Northern Watersnake has now been retweeted over 10,000 times with the title, "Why you shouldn't swim in rivers" I suggest an alternative headline, "Why Twitter shouldn't make you scared of native and harmless wildlife".