Jun 13 2015
If snakes give you the creeps close your eyes. I’ve placed my poor quality photo at the top so you have time to stop looking.
Last Saturday near Duck Hollow a cyclist stopped to tell me there was a big snake by the trail. He said he could tell by my gear that I was interested in nature and would want to know. (I must look like someone who approaches snakes.)
I’m glad the cyclist told me. The sunning snake was four feet long and very twisty as if it had wrapped tightly around a sapling and was unable to straighten out. I know almost nothing about snakes but guessed by the shape of its head and round eyes that it wasn’t venomous. Why twisted? I posted my photo at the PA Herps Facebook page to find out.
Pam Fisher identified it as a black rat snake and said that snakes sometimes make their bodies twisty to break up the visual pattern. For this snake though, his camouflage trick attracted attention.
I don’t look for snakes so the ones I find really have to stand out. For more than 20 years I’ve visited Jennings Prairie to see the birds and wildflowers but have never seen its famous endangered resident, the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake.
Dianne and Bob Machesney have visited Jennings much more than I have and they’d never seen the rattlesnake either until… On June 4 they found a rattlesnake sunning, close enough for a zoomed in photo.
Dianne wrote, “After all these years, this is the first time we saw an Easter Massasauga Rattlesnake in the wild. The field had recently been mowed and she was sunning herself. The milky eyes mean she is getting ready to shed.”
Perhaps cool mornings in early June are the best time for seeing snakes in the grass.
You can open your eyes now. 😉
(poor quality photo of a black rat snake by Kate St. John. High quality photo of a Massassauga rattlesnake by Dianne Machesney)