Sunday, September 2, 2012

Readers Write In: Is This A Rattlesnake?

  Most of the snake identification requests I receive are from people worried that a harmless snake they found around their home or business (usually a ratsnake) is actually a potentially dangerous and venomous species. This message is a little different.

"Subject: Can u identify this

I know its a baby it was out front of the firehouse this morning in Goose Creek SC guys are saying baby rattle snake.


Steve S.

Goose Creek, South Carolina"

   This isn't the first time Goose Creek has made it onto this blog. There are actually rattlesnakes in the area, but this is not one of them.

   Distinguished readership, please try to identify this snake. Do not be shy if you are not a snake expert; by offering your guesses we will know similar and confusing species and can then offer suggestions on telling them apart.

   For those of you that are relatively confident about the species identification, I offer the following challenges:

1. In addition to identifying the species, describe how you came to your conclusion, including how you differentiated this snake from any close relatives, if any.

2. Is this snake an adult or a juvenile? How can you tell (besides the size)?

3. Describe some interesting natural history information related to #2 (if you answered #2 correctly, you will understand #3).

4. Describe the morphology and behavior that may make it easy for some people to mistake this snake for a rattlesnake.

Steve has already received my answer but now I am looking forward to hearing yours.

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