Friday, September 9, 2011

baby rat snake season

The little one shown above is an example of the young phase of our largest local snake, the black rat snake, Elaphe obsoleta (Pantherophis obsoletus), Adults are, at first glance, pure black; but if examined closely traces of the pattern seen in young examples can generally be seen. This species climbs well, and that, as much as anything, probably accounts for its persistence and abundance in suburban areas.
The catbirds found the snake before I did: they were busily squawking in the nearby shrubbery. The heavy rain we have had for the last week probably brought the snake out into the open.


ChrisU said...

Very cool. I've never understood the polychromism? of snakes.

We have been in the same house for almost 30 years and weather like this used to bring the occasional hognosed snake into the (dry) basement, but it's been years. I kind of miss them!

McWort said...

I can’t say that I’ve thought much about the color patterns in snakes, Chris, but it must have some important adaptive significance because color patterns such as the one seen in the young black rat snake are probably the commonest pattern seen in snakes overall. Patterns like this occur in boids and pythonids (both rather primitive groups) and in viperids (highly derived) and lots of groups in between.

McWort said...

It’s been years since I’ve seen a hognose snake in the garden. But then it’s been years since we’ve had a successful spawning of the local toads. The toads (or at least the male toads) show up yearly, but for the last several years there have been no tadpoles.