Tuesday, May 24, 2011

OK, Now I’m Getting A Complex: Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsolete) At Home

OK, now I’m getting a complex. I had a secret hope that I’d see and photograph more snakes this year. But two in the space of two days is overdoing it. At least they’re Black Rat Snakes.

I was driving home yesterday afternoon and saw a snake extended across the opposite lane. It was a young snake compared with the one we saw on Saturday. It was in ‘crinkle’ pose – frozen into a series of kinks – probably in response to me driving up. As I passed it, I couldn’t tell if it was alive but, as I was deciding whether to back up, it started to move off. I backed up quickly and pulled forward between it and the embankment it was going to have to climb to reach the woods.

I jumped out and found a stick to encourage it to stop. It coiled up into a tight ball. That gave me time to re-park the car off the road, grab my camera, run back to get at least one photograph, run back to the car to turn off the headlights and run back to take more photographs.

It had curled up into a tight ball in response to being asked to stick around for some photographs. I couldn’t see its head.

A closer view. If you enlarge this photograph you can see its head sticking out from under the coils on the right. I didn’t see its head until I enlarged the image tonight.

I rolled the ball over, suspecting that its head was protected under the coils of its body. It’s interesting to compare the defensive response of this young snake to coil up into a ball compared with the big snake that assumed a strike pose.

After a while it started to move off cautiously

A little further

Almost completely uncoiled and heading up the embankment. It was a beautiful young healthy snake. About 3 feet long and slender, only about a third of the diameter of the snake we saw last Saturday.

Almost to the top

Heading over the top and off into the woods. There’s a subdivision on the other side of the woods. I hope it stayed clear of the houses. It’s more likely to be killed by folk who think that the only good snake is a dead snake. It deserves to live a long life.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resource:

- Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Herpetology Program: Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)

Related posts:

- Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsoleta): Broad River Wildlife Management Area, Wilkes County, Georgia

- Black Rat Snake: Another Close Encounter

- And There It Was… Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsoleta)

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