Monday, July 23, 2007

More Snakes on the Shellpot Creek

This snake surprised me while I was piling cut wood in the woodpile at the edge of the creek. Using "Amphibians and Reptiles of Delmarva" by James White and Amy White as a reference suggests that this is an Eastern Gartersnake, Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis. I saw it once without the camera and it darted away. It came back the second time and I was ready for photos. It is about the thickness of a finger and is about 18 to 24 inches in length. I didn't put a ruler next to it since I didn't want to scare it away, or get that close.

The entire length of the snake without flash.

A close up of the head with flash.

Coiling up and turning away with flash.

The pictures with and without the flash have a little bit of different coloring because the lighting was very shady in the back near the creek. The snake's belly was definitely a greenish yellow as seen in the pictures, and you can clearly see the pattern between the long yellowish lines down the back. This patterning helps me to distinguish this snake from the Common Ribbonsnake, Thamnophis sauritus sauritus. Additionally the Common Ribbonsnake is not found as far north as the gartersnake as reported in the White's book. It would have been quite a coup to see a ribbonsnake for that very reason. The Whites report that the ribbonsnake has been colonizing further north following the streams but they have no reports of one in their book. I guess I must keep looking.

"Amphibians and Reptiles of Delmarva" by James White and Amy White is available at the nature store at the Ashland Nature Center run by the Delaware Nature Society and on Amazon. It will be the basis of a wikipedia page for a List of Snakes of Delaware if I ever get around to starting one. The last snake I saw on the creek inspired me to find out if there was such a list in wikipedia, and then to go find the book. That snake is a a Northern Water Snake, Nerodia sipedon sipedon, but I only found that out conclusively by buying the book.

No comments: