Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Northern Brown Snake at Fort Ancient

Rick and I took advantage of the sunny skies and crisp temperatures on Sunday and headed up to Fort Ancient for a little birding. We walked the meadow near the visitor's center and then took the Mound Trail. The birds were wonderful...lots of yellow-rumped warblers, eastern bluebirds, cedar waxwings, downies, chickadees, and titmice, to name a few. At one point, while we were sitting down listening for brown creepers, a beautiful red-shouldered hawk swept across the gorge, landing on a branch on the other side briefly before taking off again. On our way back, as we neared the little bridge that leads back to the trailhead, Rick looked down just in time to avoid stepping on a Northern Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi)...

Northern Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi)
A Northern Brown Snake (Storia dekayi dekayi) suns himself in the leaf litter along the trail. He was very cold and barely moving. Kudos to Rick and his iPhone! It's a great camera in a pinch. I decided not to bring my camera on this trip because I just wanted to relax and enjoy the birds. That'll teach me to slack off. I'm glad Rick was able to pick up the slack for me and capture this wonderful image with his cell phone!

Can a snake be any more camouflaged? He looked like a stick among the leaves. Glad Rick spotted him! 

In Ohio, Northern Brown Snakes and Midland Brown Snakes share territory. According to the books, both snakes look similar and have two rows of dark spots running down their backs. Midland Brown Snakes have a line that connects the spots and creates a ladder pattern. Since I don't see any "rungs" going across from the spots, I'm deducing this is a Northern Brown Snake.

Brown snakes are not large. This guy was probably full grown. He was about 12-13 inches long. 

Brown snakes don't bite. They are gentle. This guy didn't musk either. He was very docile, probably because he was cold. I picked him up so we could see his belly. Brown snakes have plain, light-colored bellies, usually a light pinkish tan or beige. 

I did a little reading in my favorite reptile book, Amphibians & Reptiles of Indiana, by Sherman A. Minton, Jr., and learned brown snakes are "most often found abroad during the mild days of Indian summer in October and early November." (Minton, pg 283) No wonder we found this fellow. He was right on schedule!


Sue said...

You have to have good eyes to spot him --he does look like a stick!

Though I know snakes have their purpose in the grand scheme of things, I still can't help but say-Blech!

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

Nice shots of the snake that was a real find. I also enjoyed the photo of the hawk and I will have to try mu hand at making some owls as well.

Great posts.

Roy said...

Cool! Good thing Rick saw the poor thing in time.

TexWisGirl said...

cute little guy! :)

Montanagirl said...

Rick and his cell phone did a good job! Great find for you guys.

Laure Ferlita said...

Damn good eyesight! I'm not sure I would have seen him. Amazing shots for an iPhone!

Janice K said...

He certainly did blend in with the leaves. The pictures made him look longer than he apparently was.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! I'm so glad Rick spied this guy. He was so cool and sweet!