On Thursday, a kind guest asked me in a gentle voice, “Are you afraid of snakes?”
I answered, “Not unless they’re rattling at me!”
He then said, “Well, if you’re not afraid of them, you should know that there’s one in the museum.”
I expected a bullsnake, which of course would not be dangerous, but might be difficult to herd out the door. Instead, our guest pointed at a tiny little black guy that was moving along the wall. He was about the length of a pencil, and looked more like a long piece of string than a snake!
We scooted him outside and watched him disappear into the brush. The consensus was that he was a baby coachwhip snake. We were curious about the orange coloring at his tail. Kathy, a reader, told us that it was a baby ring-neck snake, and as we looked it up, we are convinced she is right, even though he doesn’t have a ring around his neck!
One of our docents, Tom, says that he has seen the adult snakes here. Ring-neck snakes are 10-15 inches in length, very slender, and serve as both a predator and prey in the food chain of the ecosystem, preying on smaller reptiles and insects while serving as dinner for larger predators. They are characterized as having (typically) a red or orange neck ring and underbelly. This guy is missing the neck ring, but his underbelly is bright orange as you can see in the first picture! Thanks, Kathy! I learned something today, and that’s always a good thing. 😉