Snake!

“There are m$%#er-f@!*ing snakes on this outwash plain?” Why, yes, there are. Contrary to urban myth, St. Patrick did not chase them all from the city back in the day.

I found this one at Fort Tilden a couple of mosquito-ridden summers ago. Jamaica Bay and Staten Island have been other places I’ve seen snakes within the city. (Update: My friend Lisa, whose animal prints make astonishing gifts, reports that the NY Botanical Garden is quite the snake country, too.)

It’s a garter snake, the most common species of snake in the country. Thamnophis sirtalis has numerous subspecies, including common and eastern, and they all seem to be highly variable in coloring and habitat. Some good basic data about them is found here. They can live up to ten years.

This time of year, snakes are in hibernation, tucked away for the winter, often amid their cohorts, coiled in anticipation of longer days and a warmer sun.

The Hofstra guide to reptiles and amphibians of L.I., S.I., and Manhattan is a handy place to read up on our regional snakes.

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