Slithertastic

May 10, 2010

Sunday in Alexandria was windy and cool, but apparently it was still warm enough for some cold blooded company.


I arrived in Huntley Meadows around 11:30 in the morning, hoping the change from my typical evening visits could yield some new species.

Besides seeing a number of baby birds, including geese, ducks and cardinals, I heard a child draw attention to a snake.

The Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon), shown above, was gliding smoothly through the water, winding through the reeds. Eventually, as the onlookers moved on, I was able to keep tabs on it and document it in a variety of different areas.

All snakes like to warm themselves in the sun, and when he finally climbed onto a mound of dirt I was able to make a number of portraits. The shot above looks menacing, but it was actually part of a yawn.

After a few minutes, it slid back into the water and wound its way slowly toward a group of frogs. I was really surprised how quickly the frogs realized what was happening as they all progressively hopped away from the approaching predator.

A few times I thought it would get lucky, but I didn’t witness any attacks.

Once it had moved off into the distance, I began to scan some bushes and low trees near the beginning of the boardwalk and found another snake.

The Rough Greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus aestivus) blended well with the leaves and I probably would not have noticed it if I was casually looking in its direction. This species is the only arboreal snake in Virginia. That means it generally spends its time off the ground in bushes and trees.

After a few minutes, a group of children stomping through the path disturbed the snake enough that it moved away. Snakes sense vibrations, so stomping is never a smart move.

Below where the greensnake had been, another friend was hiding in the shadows.

What I originally thought was a gartersnake is most likely an Eastern Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus). Unfortunately, it never cooperated enough to raise its head out of the shade like I would have liked. Maybe next time.

Creeped out by snakes? Tune in tomorrow for more info on the baby birds I mentioned.

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3 Responses to “Slithertastic”


  1. […] snakes from previous outings were nowhere to be found and the limited sightings were mostly dominated by […]


  2. […] the temperature was similar to last weekend’s snake-filled outing, I expected to see a few snakes, but found […]


  3. […] a familiar type of bush was a Rough Greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus aestivus) like I’ve seen in the past. This guy was smaller than the one I saw last time, with a body about the thickness of a […]


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