Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RETURNING QUEEN


Myladylove discovered this little queen snake when we were giving the yard a spring clean-up Sunday. It's the first snake I've seen this year—and I've been looking, considering the incredibly warm days we've had, many in the mid- to upper-70s˚F. 


Queen snakes, Regina septemvittata, are are small, shy, and completely harmless creatures. If you elect to handle one, about the worst they can do to you is discharge a rather malodorous musk. I picked this one up after taking a few photos; it wasn't exactly thrilled, but wasn't upset enough to give me a shot of stink. As snakes go, they're pretty docile.  

A big specimen might push two feet, but most will measure between a foot and eighteen inches. This one was probably close to sixteen inches, and no larger in diameter than my ring finger. I think their color and pattern is quite lovely. They look a lot like garter snakes, but unlike garters, have dark, ventral stripes. 

A type of water snake, queens are never found far from clean-running streams that have a stone or gravely bottom. That's because they feed almost exclusively on crawfish, which themselves require rocky, clean running water. They're therefore a good indicator species of high-quality water—and speaking as an Ohio stream fisherman, a good indicator of a potentially excellent smallmouth bass stream, since crawfish and bronzebacks are practically inseparable. The queen snake Myladylove uncovered below a pile of leaves in a flower bed, was perhaps thirty feet from the river. 

I was glad to see this first queen of the new year—not only as another indicator of just how far the season has progressed, but because I appreciate and enjoy having queen snakes around. And I'm always happy to know my neighbors have made it through the winter.
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10 comments:

KGMom said...

Scribe--good for you, welcoming a gentle snake.
Too many people are so afraid of snakes that they automatically try to harm them. I realize it is a deep-seated human reaction (as the Genesis temptation story makes clear).

The Solitary Walker said...

Wow, Grizz — these pictures are sensational!

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

Hey, I appreciate my queen snakes. They're really well-behaved little snakes, wanting nothing more than to sun themselves in the morning and go crawfishin' in the afternoon.

I've never had any problems with snakes. Respect for the ones that can kill you, but no fear. Now arachnids are another matter…

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

Thank you. It was really quite cooperative until I picked it up—and even then, so long as I put it back down and allowed it to find a comfortable spot, was willing to put up with my snapping away.

Anne@A Little Fur in the Paint said...

Beautiful snake! Great blog; I'm a new follower!
So nice to meet you!
Best,
Anne ♥♥

The Weaver of Grass said...

Again I say how lucky you are to have that river so close by you Grizz. So many creatures turn up on your patch and you take these super photographs of them.

Grizz………… said...

Anne…

Thank you…and welcome to the riverbank. It's great to have you—I'm glad you liked what you found and hope you'll visit often.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

That is indeed the key—the river. I was just saying to someone yesterday how I often think I've seen and photographed every thing and from every angle in all seasons and weather and light, and then a moment later the world changes and something new (or old but in a new way) turns up. And the river it the big draw to a lot of what goes on around here. I am lucky indeed!

Rowan said...

It's always nice to see old friends reappearing. Lovely photos and what a lovely colour her tongue is in the first one.

Grizz………… said...

Rowan…

That's right. I'm rather charmed by these little queen snakes, and always glad to see they're doing okay.

Actually, if anything, the bright, almost electric red of the tongue looks a but subdued in the photo. It was really an amazing shade; the photo just doesn't quite do it justice.