My so-called snake count

I wandered around the property looking for snakes today. It’s not the kind of thing one normally does but it’s not too much of a stretch for me. The idea was to take an inventory of the location, abundance and species of snakes inhabiting the area for the Center for Snake Conservation’s fall snake count. Today was the last day to participate so I wandered around the backyard trails for about 2 hours looking for critters to count. Well, I found a plethora of critters but no snakes– which is a bit of a shock because I usually find them when I’m not looking for them, of course!

On my slither quest I found red-backed (and lead-backed), dusky and slimy salamanders and the red-eft and adult phase of the red-spotted newt. I couldn’t photograph them all because they were just so darn fast! Just so we all know, newts are salamanders with toxic skin and a predominantly water-based life-cycle. Newts generally spend their adult lives in the water whereas most other salamanders are terrestrial as adults (with a few other exceptions such as hellbenders [which are completely awesome!]).  The red-spotted newt has a particularly interesting life-cycle because it starts out aquatic then undergoes a bright-red terrestrial stage called the eft stage and then becomes a light green aquatic adult with red spots. The really interesting part is that red-efts can roam the land for anywhere between 1 to 14 years before becoming aquatic adults. Why and when they decide to finally go back into the water has always been of interest to me. If only I could ask one…

Overall, it was a good day for sallies and seeing them made it well worth the time and effort. For future snake counts, I found some excellent potential sights to check out. From what I’ve seen, I would definitely say that the property is snake heaven. There are abundant wetlands for some tasty amphibious snacks and rocky uplands with a lot of stone fences from the farming days of yore. I took some photos of a few of the spots that I would frequent if I was a snake.

I also found the most charismatic praying mantis. So photogenic…and aggressive! This creature was fully prepared to take me on if necessary.

Enjoy the photos! I hope they encourage you to go outside and turn over some rocks. You never know what amazing things you will find until you get out there and do it!

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