I am amazed at the number of hits I get on this blog looking for information regarding snakes. I am no expert by any means, just like many of you I have a healthy interest and respect for the reptile. Most of my information comes from books especially the wonderful Peterson Guides. I gave my better ones to my grandson a number of years ago and sorely miss them now. To be honest I bought most of them at second hand book stores where you can find great bargains if you will look.
OK first one person was looking for information about a small thin black snake with yellow stripes on each side. I have no idea as to the area the person was writing from, but most likely it was a member of the Racer family. It is a harmless garden variety of garden snake 30″is long for this little guy. They can travel very fast, and are the most common kind of pet snake. They tame easily and can be handled gently. Also they are used in scientific research as they are plenty-full. I believe in one area of Indiana they hatch in great numbers and flood a particular town. Not a place for the squeamish to live, house wife’s sleep them out with brooms and children catch them in droves for resale to labs, This from a national Geographic article.
Next one asked about Black Snake rasing off the ground. Acutally I have read that any snake can raise the frontthird of it’s body into the air. This is also the distance a snake can strike. When it coils it’s self up it anchors it’s body with the back two thirds of it’s body, and can strike the distance of the remainder. There are at least four varities of the black snake. All are members of the garden snake family, and some can reach 100in length. Some have a light white stripe on its side and most have a white or cream belly. These snakes are constrictors and farmers consider the beneficial, as the help control the rodent population on farms. The diets of all snakes are rodents, insects small mammals and birds, none are vegetarian.
A quick word about the differences of the Vipers and nonpoisonous snakes. The first noticeable variance is the head and neck. A viper has a definite neck and the head is broader than the neck most often wedge shaped. The American vipers are known as pit vipers because of a very noticeable pit located between the eyes and nostrils. (I know who is going to get close enough to look for nostrils on a dangerous snake). But the pits are sunken and quite noticable. The vipers have generally wider body and a blunt tail, where the harmless snake usually has a more stream lined body and a longer narroe sharp tipped tail. In a John Wane movie his fellow actor wants to know how to tell a hostile Indian from a tame one, The Duke points to a King Snake and says the same way you can tell the difference between that guy and a Rattle Snake, when you see it you will know. That pretty well sums it up. The Coral Snake is located in a pretty much restricted area of the southern states. It has no neck and the head is the same size as the body. It does not have the retractable fangs like the pit vipers but has two fixed fangs that are small it needs to basically chew its poison in into a wound. It is indeed the most poisonous of the American Snakes on par with the Cobra, but encounters with humans is rare and would need to strike a finger or something small to inject it’s venom.
Just some quick facts I have gleaned from my books. There are some 25,000 species of known snakes in the world. On the American Continent there are 114. and in United states 57. There are five different families. The blind Snakes which are burrowers, The Water Snakes which have nine species. They can be confused with the poisons snakes because they have thicker bodies and some of their heads are some what broad. The only poisonous water snake is the Cottonmouth, so called because of its white mouth in it’s dark body. The water snakes are found through out Texas and across the eastern sea board , and down from the middle states.
Next is the Common Harmless snakes, which cover just about all the test of the nonpoisonous snakes. This encompasses the Rat Snakes, king Snakes, the Small garden Snakes, and The Bull Snakes. They are just too many to cover here. Some have rounded Bodies and others have bodies flattened on the bottom. Some are constrictors, these are usually the larger snake and eat larger prey, there fore crushing the bones so they can swallow their dinner. Some of these as I mentioned before can become quite long to 100 inches. I personally have seen The common Black in Missouri at at-least 72″ As a five foot five kid it was longer than me. The colorful snake I mentioned in a earlier blog was a Milk Snake it’s markings were Black, Yellow, Red in this order with the bands going completely around the body. The one I caw as a child was probably 24″ long but looked much larger to me. There is a Scarlet Snake that has Red, Black markings on a pale yellow body, but the markings are only on the back and side and do not wrap around the body. These snakes are found from Missouri and eastward, The poisnious Coral snake is marked with the black and red bands separated by a thin yellow band.
The Vipers are the Pit Vipers earlier mentioned The deadly Copperhead, the Cottonmouth, and five varieties of Rattle Snakes. These are the bad boys of The United States and most states has at least one of the Rattlers. From Texas eastward for the Copperhead and Cottonmouth, they make no noise, give no warning. They will not hunt you down but may make no effort to get out of your way, and will defend their-selves if threatened. Rattlers do not always give warning either especially if startled. Your best bet is to avoid these guys if possible.
Now for some ramblingbob rambling. The largest Rattlesnake I ever saw was nearly forty years ago in the San Deigo, Ca. Zoo. This creature was well over six reet long and had a body circumfrance of at least fiveteen inches at it’s middle. the head was a good eight inches wide and it’s verticle slited syes were pure hate. It’s card said it was from the South Carolina sand dunes. This fellow was stuff of night mares.
I worked with a guy from Cuba, every Memorial Day weekend he and his father-in-law with two brother-in-laws would go to the Palm Springs Desert. There they would capture Western rattle Snakes and the old man would milk them for their venom to sell to a lab to make snake bite serum. They would then release the snakes unharmed back into its environment. He said they had never been bit.
well it was not my intention to write a book. So I’m getting out of here hope somebody enjoys this mess. Bye for now ramblingbob