Season of the (Red) Snake
It’s apparently the season of the red snake. We just encountered our first Corn Snake / Red Rat Snake (oddly enough, for its commonality) — and most recently, on a brief excursion to photograph butterflies in the northern section of the Everglades, I nearly stepped on this lovely young Orange Rat Snake at dusk. He was none too happy with our presence, and my undivided attention to his colorful mug.
Also known as the Everglades Rat Snake or Glades Rat Snake, this species is known for its calm nature (in captivity) and wide array of bright colors, making it another favorite with snake keepers. While many areas are host to the Everglades Rat Snake, Florida has a particularly high concentration — the species derives its name from the Everglades region in South Florida, where it’s said to have originated. Although prone to aggression if feeling cornered or threatened (like many animals, unsurprisingly), they are NOT dangerous, and spend much of their time in hiding — in crevices, tucked into knotholes, burrowing into holes, on trees (including palms), or on treetops (they’re great climbers). Like many Florida snakes, they’ll quickly flee to the water should they sense danger on land. They can reach lengths of 4 – 6 feet, although a few have been reported up to 7 feet — making it one of the longest snakes in North America. A single clutch can include between 7 – 27 eggs, hatching in July or September. As the snakes mature, they change from a blotchy grey to orange or sometimes red, with four standard stripes resembling their background color — with striking red eyes and a matching red tongue (the red eye can be seen in this picture). Their natural habitats are grasslands, wetlands, and swamps.
Whenever we see snakes around our home, they’re usually non-venemous; and we ensure that they’re protected from lawnmowers and the like. Snakes keep rodent populations down — and if you live anywhere near water, you realize how large water rats can become. Snakes are our friends! If you or someone you know is afraid of them, gently relocate the snake and / or its nest. We once had a large Brown Snake manage its way into our inside closet (how, we’ll never know). Believe me, I’d — and by “I,” I mean the male — would rather have relocated that Brown Snake than a water rat.