Saturday, August 18, 2012

Readers Write In: What Is This Snake? No, It's Not Another Ratsnake!

Yesterday afternoon I received the following e-mail:

"Dr. Steen,

I was hoping you could help identify this snake. We found it in our kitchen, hopefully the cat brought it in. I had searched the web but was unable to identify, perhaps because it was a juvenile.

Photo attached: It was around 8” long, brownish in color with a red/orange stripe down its back. It had a yellow/gold belly and a black head. It had no other stripes.

Thank you for any response you may have.

Tim N.
Shelby County, Alabama"

Compared to most other identification requests I receive, there are two things that make this one unusual: 1) this snake is not a ratsnake and 2) it is not dead.

The identity of this animal may not be obvious because the coloration is somewhat atypical. But, I have the utmost confidence that you, the readership, will be able to provide the species name below. As before, please note how you identified the snake and add a personal anecdote or some interesting natural history information regarding the species.

In a follow-up e-mail, Tim noted that the snake moved like a sidewinder. Bonus points for anyone that can explain why. Hint: the answer relates to where it was found.

Have at it.

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