Tag Archives: worm snake

Weekend Wildlife (and flowers too)

There hasn’t been much time for gardening or blogging recently, but I stole a few hours this weekend to rescue and transplant trilliums, rejuvenate a container, and simply enjoy the spring garden.

Friday provided a quick look at one of the resident red-shouldered hawks that live along the Reedy River.  I barely managed to grab my camera for a handful of photos before it saw me at the window and leapt from its perch in a black walnut tree.

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Red-shouldered hawk

Though similar, this bird of prey is smaller than the red-tailed hawk and is easy to identify by its black tail with narrow white bands.

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On Saturday, while moving Sweet Betsy trilliums (T. cuneatum) from a soon-to-be utilized city easement at the bottom of our property, I came across a small worm snake (Carphophis ameonus) in the leaf litter.  It was tiny, but not shy about its displeasure, which it expressed with non-stop writhing and, once, by biting my glove.

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Worm snake

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Notice the pink underbelly, which you can just see in the neck region.

I see these little snakes, which grow just a foot in length, in the garden quite often and they always make me smile.  I’m a bit worried I haven’t seen any black snakes yet, but perhaps it’s still a bit early.

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Trillium cuneatum

Most of the trilliums were moved with as much soil around their roots as possible, but I shook these free so you could get a look at their rhizomes.  The smaller, which lost its foliage in digging, was positioned against the larger plant.

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Common five-lined skink

Later, while pulling violas from a container, I unearthed a sleeping five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus).  This quick-footed creature is impossible to catch when fully awake, so I was lucky to hold it for a photo.  Minutes later I saw it had already found a friend and was cavorting in the rock wall, so no harm done.

Finally, here a few favorite blooms to brighten your day.  I hope you’re enjoying a spring as beautiful as the one we are having here!

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Tulips on the front stoop

 

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Spanish bluebells

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And mayapples (Podophyllum) in the woodland, just beginning to flower

 

 

 

 

Ophidiophobic? Don’t Look Now!

Since Tim and I live near the river, we know there are snakes around. Lucky for us, the ones we have encountered so far are nonpoisonous. Most have been black snakes, but we’ve also seen a handful of brown snakes (Storeria dekayi), a small species that grows to about 13-inches long, and a few similar-sized worm snakes (Carphophis amoenus). There were also two water snakes that I scooped out of an old white wall when cleaning tires out of the river, but that’s another story.

Brown snake on the patio behind our house.

Brown snake on the patio behind our house.

To be honest I have a hard time distinguishing the black snakes. I know I’ve seen at least two long, slender, and shiny snakes that I’ve been calling black racers (Coluber constrictor priapus), but they might be black rat snakes or something else. One, which I’ve seen many times, is roughly 4-feet long and the other is somewhat smaller, under 3-feet long. Here are a few photos (taken last year) of the larger snake which dens in a crack in the concrete retaining wall that separates our back garden from the woodland terraces that reach down to the river. When resting, it is usually coiled and it does not seem to mind me coming close for a look. Once, when I didn’t see the snake moving through the grass and almost stepped on it, it kinked up but did not strike.

Black racer or black rat?  April 15, 2012

Black racer or black rat? April 15, 2012

Kinked up, after nearly being stepped on.

Kinked up, after nearly being stepped on.

Over the wall and away.

Over the wall and away.

Here is a photo of what I believe is the same snake on Easter Sunday, the first day this year we saw it sunning itself in an azalea just a few feet from the concrete wall. Tim and I saw the same snake several times in the next 10 days or so, either in the azalea or stretched along the top of the wall. Then it disappeared and we joked it had left for a hunting trip.

Sunning in the azalea.

Sunning in the azalea.

Today, however, I saw what appears to be a different snake in the same azalea. This snake looks larger and thicker and has a faint but discernible pattern on its back. I’m pretty sure it is a black rat snake (Elaphe obsolete). Rather than resting coiled, it was stretched out, and it seemed disturbed by my attention, flicking its tongue and moving among the branches.

Can you see the faint pattern on its back?  Looks thicker too.

Can you see the faint pattern on its back? Looks thicker too.

I have read that different species of snakes will den together, but don’t know if this is true or not.

What do you think? Is this the same snake? Do you have any info to share?

As a side note, copperheads are quite common in our area but we have not seen one near our home. I hope my friends the black snakes are keeping them at bay.