Posts Tagged 'snakes'

Garters

Does this snake have a head at both ends?Eastern Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis).And another. Great Swamp NWR. I wanted to turn these into Ribbon Snakes. They were, after all, on tiny islands in the swamp. But look at the black marks on the sides of their faces. Ribbon Snakes, which are in the same genus, don’t have those. Compare my examples with this image of a Ribbon from the VA Herpetological Society.

Timber!

We caught Ted Levin talking about his book, America’s Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake this week at the Linnaean Society. It’s a damn good book and deserves to be read far and wide.

Too many people fear and loath snakes, an irrationality that leads directly to massacre. There are still bloody snake-killing events held around the country as savage tribes (mostly white Americans) celebrate the slaughter. Meanwhile, cars do serious damage to male snakes, who must travel good distances between matriarchal snake dens. And collectors empty out dens for the (illegal) pet trade, destroying hibernacula that may have been used for centuries and will probably never be used again. And there’s a subset of a-holes who capture and pose with the snakes because, I guess, it makes them feel like men to be a=holes. Doesn’t it seem a pity, then, that only about 5 people a year die from snake bite…

As Levin noted in his talk, many more people die falling out of bed in this country than die from snake bite. And it would be pointless to compare fatal snake bites to the number killed by people driving automobiles (37,000+) or using guns (14,000+). Indeed, there is no comparison. By the way, should you actually be bit by a timber rattlesnake, keep calm and get medical attention ASAP; the venom is slow-acting. The Boy Scout stuff we learned about sucking out the poison is nonsense.

Rattlesnakes are strictly New World animals. You’ll recognize the rattler from early American iconography: Franklin’s “Join, or Die” cartoon and the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag used by the early Navy. But we’ve been chopping their heads off in terror since then, too. As a result Crotalus horridus is doing quite poorly today. Levin fictionalizes locations to keep them secret. So son’t publicize the locations of your sightings, should you be so lucky. I never have been. (iNaturalist should have built-in warnings about giving locations for this species, as well as other rare animals, and, of course, rare plants.)

One place Levin doesn’t hide is Glastonbury, CT. The town has learned to live with rattlers in their midst. And guess what, the payoff, besides beauty, wonder, and marvels, is that the town has less Lyme disease. Rattlers eat mice and chipmunks, the vectors for Lyme. Just saying.

Diamondback rattle handed around by Levin.

Ssss

Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), the only species of snake I’ve ever run into in New York City. And that hasn’t been all that frequently. But they’re out there. And this lovely specimen was in the Bronx.

*
It’s tremendously unfair to animals to compare them to people. Pig, snake, rat, insect, etc. Yesterday, Orange Spray-on-Tan endorsed police brutality before a crowd of cheering cops betraying their public trust and duty. This followed his Drumpfjugend rally with the Boy Scouts earlier in the week. The Anti-Midas, everything he touches turns to shit. The man is defecating on America and wiping himself with the Constitution. And the Republicans are helping him.

Snake in the Moss

Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon). Saw a half dozen basking off of the boardwalk. This common snake, second only to the Garter in abundance regionally, is, like that species, somewhat varied in form. You can see stripes on this youngish one, but most Great Swamp specimens look very dark and unmarked (as they dry in the sun, the scales tend to look more uniform). This is one of the snake species that give birth to live young, one to three dozen itty-bitty snakes.
*

This Tom Tomorrow cartoon encapsulates it all well: Trump’s bullshit and his refusal to admit it was his bullshit.

Join, Or Die

Nerodia sipedonSome of the Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon) seen recently soaking up the sun at Great Swamp NWR. Relax, it’s harmless — it’s just yawning.Nerodia sipedonNerodia sipedonNerodia sipedonMy title is a reference is to Ben Franklin’s 1754 cartoon of the colonies in the shape of a dismembered snake, for today is primary day here in New York. Normally, the socially liberal and socially lunatic wings of our corporate oligarchy have wrapped things by now, and a piddly number of New York voters turn out to anoint such depressing choices in advance of the TV show conventions. This year is quite different. The Democratic choice is unusually stark: dynastic corporate tool or a New Deal-style reformist (how far right the Democrats under Clintonism have traveled!). Meanwhile, the Republican choices are even more unspeakable than usual. Anybody who votes for that party’s pathological standard bearers, can, as the Daily News said of the extraordinarily vile Ted Cruz, take the FU Train.1024px-Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_Die

Snakes on Monday

Nerodia sipedonTwo variations on Northern Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon). Nerodia sipedonThe first was warming up ashore on a cool spring morning.Nerodia sipedon
Nerodia sipedonThe second was swimming between the sedge tussocks.Nerodia sipedonNew Jersey has 22 species of snakes, according to a NJ Fish & Wildlife pamphlet we picked up at Great Swamp NWR. Historically, there was at least one more, the Queen, which is now considered extirpated in the state.

Thanks for identification help from David Steen, whose blog is all about snakes.

More Snakes in the Garden Please

Thamnophis sirtalisA young Common Garter (Thamnophis sirtalis) riding over the duff of Black Rock Forest.Thamnophis sirtalisThis one was about 7″.Thamnophis sirtalisAt a stream, I saw four mature Garters drift by on the other side; these were over 2′ long. My friends called my attention to the one on my side of the stream. Perhaps a wintering ball of snakes had just woken? Thamnophis sirtalisThe best shot of the day, unfortunately because the animal is dead. It was on the side of a mountain road, probably clipped by a wheel.


Share

Bookmark and Share

Join 525 other followers

Nature Blog Network

Archives