Thursday, August 20, 2009

Birth of Snakes

Several weeks ago, we were asked, "Which of the snakes in the swamp bear live young?" We were not sure, but we looked up the answer. Of the five snake species commonly seen from the boardwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, all but the Greenish Rat Snake bear live young.

Banded Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata fasciata) 15-20 live young in late summer, larger females can produce up to 50 young!

Red-bellied Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster) 11-30 live young in late summer

Brown Water Snake (Nerodia taxispilota) 20-60 live young in late summer

Eastern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) 3-20 live young every 2-3 years

Greenish Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta x quadrivittata) 8-20 eggs laid from May-early July in humid subsurface chamber or buried beneath decaying plants matter.

The Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus) can be seen from the boardwalk in the drier sections between the nature center and the swamp or along the swamp's edge. Like the Greenish Rat Snake, it lays eggs (36 in early summer, hatch late summer to early fall) and is added here simply because we have some new images. What appears to be a Southern Leopard Frog is shown slowly becoming a meal for the snake. Contrary to the species name, the snake does not constrict its prey, but swallows it alive!

Fortunately, humans are not on the menu for any of these reptiles and will all flee our presence if given the opportunity.

Images by Jeff Mollenhauer

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