Snake Encounter Reports
The following links to reports and photos were e-mailed to us on the dates indicated. Many thanks to all who have taken the time to provide accounts of their experiences. Names are, in most cases, reduced to initials (or first names and the first initial of the last name) to protect the privacy of the contributors, but the general locations of the sightings are shown. Note that many reports do not indicate where the encounter took place. I urge all who send us future reports to mention at least the state/province and city where the encounter took place in your report.
All reports sent in are answered as quickly as possible, and questions posed in the reports are addressed in the reply. The text of specific replies is not always provided in the text below, but may include editorial comments from time to time in response to particular questions.
To Review Snake Encounter Reports Received in 2009: CLICK HERE
To Review Snake Encounter Reports Received in 2008: CLICK HERE
To Review Snake Encounter Reports Received in 2007: CLICK HERE
* TERMITE ENCOUNTERS * SNAKE ENCOUNTERS * SNAKE BITE FIRST AID * SNAKE EXCLUSION * SPIDER ENCOUNTERS * SPIDER BITE FIRST AID * SPIDER EXTERMINATION * PUSS CATERPILLAR ENCOUNTERS * PUSS CATERPILLAR FIRST AID * PUSS CATERPILLAR EXTERMINATION * Assembled & Edited by Jerry Cates. Questions? Corrections? Comments? BUG ME RIGHT NOW! ---- Ph: 512-331-1111 ---- E-Mail ---- Privacy ----BugsInTheNews * --0a0s--
May 1, 2007: Diamond-backed Water Snake, Lake Granbury, Texas
Hi, Jerry: Sorry I don't have a picture but I'll give you a description of the snake I saw. It generally has diamond shapes on it on it's back, in dark gray or black colors with a lighter and narrower colors of gray in between the dark diamonds. It has a long slender tapering tail. This kind of snake is very common in and around Lake Granbury. I knew the name of it a long time ago but have forgotten it. If you run from one it will chase you, but if you turn on it the snake will run. We experienced one getting in our house recently buy just can't remember the name of it. when I find out the name I will write it down this time. John P., Granbury, Texas.
Thank you for your time on this.
could it be a diamond-backed water snake (Nerodia rhombifer rhombifer)? The juveniles have long tapering tails, but the older ones have stout bodies. they are very common around Lake Granbury. Some pages with photos are linked below:
Thanks, Jerry. It looks like the diamond-backed water snake.
May 1, 2007: Unknown snake species, Mansfield, Texas
Hi--I don’t have a picture, but I’ll try to explain as best as I can. About 3 feet long, dark brown in color, triangle head, (I know that this doesn’t always mean poisonous). I could see the snake's venom glands. It had yellow markings and a red tongue. My husband and son found the snake in the back yard while mowing. We have thick woods with a creek behind our house. We live just south of the DFW area. (Mansfield)
Can you describe the yellow markings? Were they in a pattern you can compare with anything?
You mentioned you saw the venom glands. Where were they, and what did they lool like?
Because of your location, it is possible you saw an eastern hog-nosed snake (Heterodon platirhinos). The links that follow have photos of that species. Notice that, when this snake is threatened, it puffs up the area around its head, making the cheeks look like small venom glands (they are actually air pockets):
Let me know if any of those look anything like the snake you saw.
Note: Teresa has not replied...
April 30, 2007: Texas Rat Snake, Austin, Texas
I got your email off of the web and was curious if you can identify the snake in the attached picture [THE SNAKE]. Based upon pictures on your site it looks like it might be a rat snake. I feel kind of bad because I killed it – worried about my boys playing outside. If it was a rat snake it looks like it could be a beneficial snake. The size of it kind of scared us. It was probably 6+ feet long.
Anyway, I’d appreciate an identification if you can provide one.
Beautiful specimen of--you guessed
Thanks for the photo. I will post it in a few days, after my software upgrades are fully installed and tested.
Thanks for the information. Obviously hindsight is 20 – 20, but I wish I had waited on killing it. I didn’t want it to get hidden and then worry about it for several weeks – thinking it may be something a bit more dangerous.
April 24, 2007: Texas Rat Snake (& skunks), Anna, Texas
I found your website and email address last night when I sat down to do some serious research about rat snakes and skunks. I was trying to educate my husband who thinks there is no such thing as a good snake..... :>( ....... especially when our neighbors have told us of copperhead incidences with their dogs. Our family which consists of two very beautiful and lovable but too curious boxer dogs will be moving out to this location within 6 months after a more permanent home is built.
Here's my story and consequent questions:
On Wednesday April 25th I saw a Texas Rat Snake going under the raised floor of an apartment IN my 40 by 70 foot metal storage barn we recently purchased out in the country........our home away home. We have had a problem with mice and probably rats in and among the hay stored in the barn and at least mice in the apartment so I was VERY glad to see the snake. I have warned people going in and out of that barn about the snake AND that "their" very lives are at risk if they kill "MY" snake!
(I have learned to appreciate and peacefully co-exist with rat eating snakes ever since a couple showed up and took care of the rat problem I had for a year or so in my barn in a more metropolitan area where I am living now. The rats were spooking my stalled horses at night and were as big as a small cat. Their babies were drowning in one of my horse's water buckets and in fact caused a near fatal episode in that horse after drinking the urine tinged water.)
Saturday, a group of us were relaxing in the sitting room of the apartment in the barn when we heard piercing shrieks of some animal in distress. The shrieks were quite loud and fierce at first but became whimpers and finally were gone. But just as quickly as the sound was gone we immediately smelled skunk stink. By this time I had stepped outside and the odor was clearly SKUNK!
My question is: What are the chances that the snake got the skunk or at least one of the babies? Do Rat Snakes go after skunks....AND....are Rat Snakes effected by Skunk Stuff? I liked to think "MY" snake is still alive and will come back after all that.
If you have time to answer my email, I would be most grateful to hear what your take is on the episode. Thanks
I would be very surprised if rat snakes pass up a chance to take a juvenile skunk for a meal. Considering the musk snakes produce, skunk musk would not faze them... which is to say, your snake is safe, and should definitely come back, maybe for more skunk.
But I may be wrong on this.
April 24, 2007: Desert King Snake, Tynan, Texas
Good Morning Jerry,
I was using your website to identify a snake [THE SNAKE] that we ran into on our Farm the other night just outside of Tynan Tx. This one ended up in the back yard, and I was not able to identify it at the time because of the darkness. As I have small children, I must inform you that this ol' chap is no longer with us. I'm not one to kill a snake just because it's a snake, but in this case I wasn't sure what I was dealing with. The only profile I could get close to on your website was an atypical coral snake. I took a very high resolution picture to research with and have attached it. We have seen plenty of Rattlesnakes on the farm, but I have never seen one like this . . . . .
Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing back from you.
Excellent photo--it's a beautiful specimen. Many thanks.
This is a desert king snake (Lampropeltis getula splendida). The king snakes are non-poisonous and essentially harmless but--like many of our non-poisonous snakes--they can be pugnacious. This particular subspecies tends to be less irritable than its close cousin, the speckled king snake (L. g. holbrooki), but it will bite if handled.
Like the rat snakes, the beneficial nature of the kings (they keep rattlesnakes and copperheads in check) make them such good guys to have around that their testy attitudes can be overlooked. I heartily recommend getting to know these snakes better so, next time you come across a king snake, you will salute it instead of stomping it. Under the circumstances, of course, you did the right thing. No point taking chances with small children around.
Thanks Jerry, in the future we will allow these guys to be fruitful and multiply. I really did not want to kill it. Next time we will just help it relocate . . . . .
Thanks for your time!
Feel free to use the photo as you see fit. Maybe it can prevent someone from making the same mistake I did.
Thanks again, and have a great week!
April 11, 2007: Broad-banded Water Snake, Cinco Ranch, Katy, Texas
My granddaughter Gabrielle, along with my wife and I, saw these snakes [THE SNAKES] at Cinco Ranch, in Katy, Texas, back on March 30. Maybe you can tell me what kind of snake it is.
We counted 6 snakes and got the feeling that it was mating time - the largest (2.5 - 3 feet) seemed to be pursued by the smaller (2 -2.5 feet) ones. I might be off a bit on the size, but not very much.
Thanks, Christer R.
These are broad-banded water snakes (Nerodia fasciata confluens). They are non-poisonous, essentially harmless. It is a beautiful species, and the strongly keeled scales make it look like it has to be poisonous, but it isn't.
Many thanks for the photos, and for all your work getting the high resolution images to me. I'll work on getting them on put on the web right away.
April 10, 2007: Western Cottonmouth, Lake Texana, Texas
Enjoyed your web site, in addition, one of your pics
and descriptions helped to affirm what I believed to be true.
Thanks for sharing your experience. To me, the most interesting part of this and similar experiences is that, most of the time, a cottonmouth will not behave in an aggressive, threatening manner, while non-poisonous water snakes tend to be super-aggressive (e.g., striking out at the slightest provocation). I agree that you had no choice but to destroy this snake, due to the presence of the children.
What would you have done with a diamond-backed water snake, I wonder? Probably, you would have had to kill it, too, again--due to the presence of the children--but because of its aggressive nature, you would not have felt uncomfortable about it until much later, when you learned it was a harmless water snake.
Those who spend time in parks and wilderness recreation areas do well to become familiar with the snakes that also reside there. You knew not to rely on the outward behavior of the snake as a sign that it is either harmless or poisonous, but most do not have that insight. On discovering a poisonous snake, one must do whatever necessary to protect themselves and others. A non-poisonous snake, even a very aggressive one, should be left alive, if possible, but should also be removed from the site so that its natural aggressive tendencies don't lead to unnecessary bites and the snake's demise.
Also... (sorry, got to get this in) take some photos next time...
April 9, 2007: Texas Rat Snake, Lake LBJ, Texas
showed up on my front porch (on Lake LBJ just outside Marble
Falls) one evening last fall. It looked harmless, but my knowledge of
snakes is limited. From looking at the photos on your very helpful
website, I'd say it looks most like a rat snake. Am I correct?
You are indeed correct. It's a Texas rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri), in the blue phase we see from time to time in the hill country. Most other snakes of this species have brown or reddish brown blotches and saddles on an orange background.
The last blue-phase Texas rat snake I've found, personally, was on the San Gabriel river in Georgetown. They are unusually beautiful specimens, and like all Texas rat snakes, very beneficial creatures to have around.
April 7, 2007: Marsh Brown Snake, Hurst, Texas, and
Rough Earth Snake, Hurst, Texas
Jerry---From the website where you help identify snakes we are told this [THE SNAKES] is a brown snake. We are not sure, though, and have not found any pictures to help us identify it.
My son loves it and wants to keep it as a pet (OUTSIDE) what do they eat?
Thanks so much---Aprile L.
Aprile---The smaller snake with the pale spinal stripe is a marsh brown snake (Storeria dekayi limnetes), and the larger, uniformly brown snake with the cone-shaped snout is the rough earth snake (Virginia striatula). Both are harmless, and beneficial (they eat slugs and snails, keeping their populations in check, a fact that every gardener should appreciate).
Please tell me where these photos were taken. City and state will suffice. [Aprile later replied that the photos were taken in Hurst, Texas]
Now to answer your questions.
Both these snakes love earthworms, but they are not good at eating large ones, like those purchased at pet or bait stores. Grabbing an earthworm at its head or tail won't work, as the worm manages to extricate itself before it is swallowed. In order to insure the worm doesn't get away, the snake bites it in its middle, and folds it in two to swallow it. Large worms are too big to get down their small gullets folded. In the wild, the snake has no trouble finding plenty of the smaller earthworms suitable for eating, but the same isn't true in captivity. Feeding them earthworms of the size they can swallow is a tough job, and I don't recommend trying (I tried once and failed--the result was fatal to the snake, and ruinous to my ego).
Slugs, snails, and small insects like crickets probably will also work with these snakes, but slugs and snails are even more difficult to acquire and, because they are intermediate hosts for human parasites, I don't recommend keep them around or handling them.
That leaves crickets and mealyworms, both of which are easily obtained from pet stores. You could try those, and see how they work. Let me know. I found that a diet of crickets, alone, produced what appeared to be a less than healthy snake, but your experience may differ.
Oh, by the way--keeping the snake in an enclosure outside is not a good idea. In captivity the snake must be kept in a controlled environment or its health will quickly suffer. That almost always means keeping it inside your home, in a terrarium of some kind, with a herp heating pad glued underneath one portion of the terrarium, lined with a quantity of herp media, and a bowl of water for bathing---Jerry
April 4, 2007: Blind Snakes in Bathroom; San Angelo, Texas
Jerry---Every year I find these earthworm like snakes [THE SNAKE] with eyes visible and the only real way you know they are snakes is that, when they move, they make an “S” pattern with their bodies. Each year I have about 13 of them at this time of the year. Usually I find them in the bathroom. Are they Texas Blind snakes and how many do they usually have? Where can I find their nest so I can get rid of them? How do I get rid of them? I have sealed about everything I can in the bathroom but every year they come back, and I have found two in the last two days. They are 4 to 6 inches and very slim. I am tired of finding them.Thank You---Renee P.
Renee---Your location means these are probably the plains blind snake (Leptothyphlops dulcis dulcis). A subspecies of this snake, the New Mexico blind snake (L. dulcis dissectus) is found in the panhandle and the El Paso area. A second species (L. humilis segregus) is found in the Trans-Pecos area.
Regarding blind snakes, I have both good news and bad news.
The good news: finding several blind snakes in your bathroom is a good thing. They are harmless to humans and their pets, and they are there for a reason, though the reason may not warm the cockles of your heart.
Now for the bad news: The blind snake preys primarily on termites and ants, in that order, and this is especially true of the plains blind snake. The New Mexico blind snake, and the Trans-Pecos blind snake prey about equally on ants and termites, but the plains blind snake devotes its time more in search of termites than any other insect. If you are seeing these snakes in your bathroom, they are probably there because your home has a termite infestation nearby.
Termites are swarming this time of the year, and blind snakes have an easier time feeding on them during their swarms, which is probably why you are finding the blind snakes now.
Have someone in the pest management business inspect the bathroom for termites, especially at the bath-trap under the bathtub, and at all the plumbing penetrations for the commode and sinks.
Thanks for the photos. Please have your home inspected for termites and, If termites are discovered later, consider taking photos of the damage and the termites themselves, and send those along, too---Jerry
April 1, 2007: Western Cottonmouth swallowing Western Ribbon Snake, Montgomery County, Texas
I believe the predator [THE SNAKE] in this picture is a Western Cottonmouth, but maybe you can verify that for me?
We are located in
My husband killed
the big guy, so I’m hoping he is poisonous. The little guy
didn’t make it; too much damage had already been inflicted by the
time we freed him.
Anita---Yes, definitely a western cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivouous leucostoma), about to swallow a western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus proximus).
Nice photos. Many thanks.
Tell me the details---Jerry
Details? Well, this is the story! Let me know if there are other specifics that you’d like to receive:
We live in an acreage
subdivision off of
We debated watching
the whole eating process, but my husband and children wanted to save the
ribbon snake if possible. In fact, my husband didn’t want to kill
the larger snake as we were not sure it was venomous. Fortunately
(in my opinion), we were able to convince him that we shouldn’t take the
slightest chance of leaving a venomous snake so close to the children’s
play area. The cottonmouth was amazingly tough. My husband
used a shovel to chop its head off … but after three chops, the head was
still attached. The snake was killed, but never decapitated.
During the killing process, the snake definitely showed its fangs
Unfortunately, the ribbon snake was too injured to survive.
I would estimate the cottonmouth to be about 2 feet long.
After having been
frightened last year by an
Great story! Tough snake, tougher snake killer... I'll get this posted sometime today (server crash yesterday put me behind, now playing catch-up... I hate that)
The cottonmouth tends to be quite docile around humans until it feels threatened. I run into them along the streams north of your location all the time; they leave me alone and I leave them alone. But I sure watch my step. You did the right thing with this one, but--unfortunately--there are plenty more where that one came from. Consider using SNAKE-A-WAY, available at a variety of INTERNET sources; be sure to follow the directions on the label. It does limit the number of snakes you will around the areas where it is used.
March 30, 2007: Louisiana Milk Snake, Conroe, Texas
Hey Jerry -
As you can see [THE
SNAKE] - no "kill the fellow"
March 30, 2007: Diamond-backed Water Snake, juvenile, Montgomery County, Texas
Excellent photos, thanks. And thanks, also, for
the kind words. I'm glad the
website is helpful.
Thanks a bunch. Glad we didn't hurt it. How big do
they get when full
grown? What do they eat?
The mature snake of this
species ranges from 30-48 inches long (the record-setter was almost 69 inches long, found in 1963), and are the largest of
the Nerodians in Texas, with girths of four to six inches in
They eat mostly fish, but also eat frogs and toads.
March 30, 2007: Eastern Hog-Nosed Snake, College Station, Texas
Jerry, I'm following up on your web request to send snake photos. I think this [THE SNAKE] may be an Eastern hognose snake. It was in the shallow skimmer in our pool last week. I originally thought it was a blotched water snake, but local Texans suggest it's an Eastern hognose. Your thoughts? Lorraine E.
Lorraine---You are right, this is the eastern hog-nosed snake (Heterodon platirhinos). Some of the other hog-nosed species also spread their hoods, but none as readily as this one. The shape of the head is definitive. Thanks for the photos---Jerry
March 29, 2007: Diamond-backed Water Snake juvenile, East Texas
I found this guy [THE SNAKE] on the apron here at the fire dept tonight and brought him in to photograph and try and figure out what he was as it was obvious he was not venomous. Found your website and he looks like the other juvenile rat snake there. Feel free to post the pic if you like and if you need any more, let me know, as I can send some more. You can't tell by the photo but his belly is a light chartreuse, kinda green, with some markings. Thanks---John R.
John---I presume you are with the (name omitted for privacy purposes) Fire Department. I get up to that area every few months to visit a nearby city. It's my favorite part of Texas. If you ever work the Emergency Room in (city name omitted), say hello to my good friend, Dr. Michael W. He, his wife, and their grown children live in a city north of there, but Mike spends five to seven days at a time there as one of their ER Docs.
Thank you for your service in the fire and EMS fields.
Your snake is a juvenile diamond-backed water snake (Nerodia rhombifer rhombifer). The structure of the head, combined with the markings and coloration of the labial scales, suggest it to be one of the Nerodians. The spinal and lateral markings, though more pronounced in the juvenile than in the adult, but lacking all but faint diagonal lines connecting the spinal and lateral marks, are--in combination--unique to the diamond-backed water snake. Yours is likely a male, owing to the structure of the long, gently tapered tail. The female's tail is shorter, and tapers more abruptly from the vent. The belly markings you mention are definitive for the species, though the coloration of the belly in the adult is usually more yellowish than chartreuse.
All the Nerodians are non-poisonous, though a large adult can inflict a painful, bloody bite (that is otherwise inconsequential).
Additional photos of this specimen would be much appreciated. In particular, closeups of the underchin scales, the midbody belly scales, and the vent. I will post all of those as soon as possible after you send them, and should have the present photo posted sometime today.
Many thanks for the photo, and I look forward to additional communications from you.---Jerry
Hello again Jerry---I have taken a few more photos for you and attached them. .I think I got all the ones you wanted and I had to Google "vent" because I didn't want to send a pic of a snakes butt if that's not what a "vent " was. LOL.
You are correct ,I do work for the (name omitted) FD and worked in the city you mentioned for a private EMS provider for 4 years ending about 5 years ago before coming to the FD. I believe I have encountered your friend around there but I don't think I have ever worked with him in a clinical setting. It is a nice town and I sometimes go there to take some pictures and eat lunch because it is only about 10 minutes from home.
I wish I still had the photo of the cottonmouth I came across last summer. It was the largest I have ever seen. .I figured his length to be about 2.5'-3' but I am not sure as I never could get a secure grip on him and was only armed with a baseball bat. At his widest point he was nearly as big around as a coke can. Never seen another that large in my life and I have seen a lot of them at our Deer lease in the river bottom's.
Anyway don't want to bore you with monster stories. I appreciate your ID help with the snake and next time you come around let me know.
I will hang on to the snake until I hear back from you in case you need some more photos.
By the way they are quite aggressive as juveniles too. Thanks---John R.
John---Great photos, for which I thank you sincerely.
The city you mentioned, and the surrounding area--a great place to get photos of cottonmouths. They are relatively docile up there. If you stay on the trails you'll walk right by a big one, coiled near the path, and not notice until you've passed by--and the snake doesn't even flinch.
The harmless water and rat snakes, on the other hand, are super-aggressive, as you mentioned.
I'll get these posted as soon as I can. Many thanks.---Jerry
March 29, 2007: Broad-banded Water Snake juvenile, The Woodlands, Texas
Try this one [THE SNAKE]....Thanks
Tim---This is a juvenile broad-banded water snake (Nerodia fasciata confluens), and a beautiful specimen (probably a male considering the gently tapered tail), so thanks for this photo. It looks like you have it in captivity, so perhaps you can take some more. It is harmless (it should bite if handled, but at this stage of development, the tiny teeth won't come close to breaking your skin) and very beneficial.
A close up of the underhead scales (the chin from nose to neck) and the belly showing the markings on the belly scales, and the vent and the scales from the vent down the tail, would be helpful, if you can supply them.
Tell me the circumstances of the find, along with the way the snake behaved before and after you caught it---Jerry
March 28, 2007: Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake, Round Rock, TX
This snake [THE SNAKE] was seen on Old Settlers Blvd., east of exit 254 of I-35 on March 28th, 2007, at about 11:00 p.m.. He had been run over and seemed to be ruptured. Nevertheless he was still alive, and his tail was still rattling. He appeared to be about 4 feet long.
Many thanks for these photos.
It is sobering to find that a rattlesnake this large can live in such close proximity to developed residential areas.
Tell me how you saw it, exactly where on Old Settlers it was found, and all the details. People will want to know all that when they see these photos.
We (my son and I ) were driving East on Old Settlers. We had passed the intersection where the name of the road changes to Kiphen. We were about 700 feet east of Chasco Contracting at 2801 Kiphen Rd., Round Rock, TX 78664 when we saw the snake coiled on the right (south) side of the road. It was facing us and its mouth was open and its rattle tail was in the air. We may have run it over.
We turned around and went back for a confirmatory look; and then we got a camera, went back, and took a few pictures.
Thanks for the clarification. I'm in the process of posting this on the web as we speak, and want to clear up a minor inconsistency. You mention in your initial post that the photos were taken around ll:00PM, but my server time-stamped receipt of your message with the photos at 10:42PM.
Last week I received some doctored images from a sender in another part of Texas. The experience has made me realize the importance of checking the more unusual messages out as carefully as possible.
Good observation regarding the time .. and you are correct that it could not have been that late. I am working on a laptop that is set to Eastern Daylight Time that is one hour later. I probably looked down at the time on the lower right corner of the screen when I was writing, and forgot that it was EDT . The whole event, from initial sighting, turning around and going back and looking at it again, going to our house (about five minutes away) getting the camera, going back to the snake, taking a picture, turning around, going back to the snake, and taking a few more pictures, probably took a total of about 1/2 hour or so.
Before seeing the snake, we been to a book store, and left there a little after 9:00 p.m. (they close at 9:00 and were closing when we left) , then we went to Sonic and got a shake, then we were proceeding back home when we saw the snake... oh wait a second ... I called my wife and told her about the snake right after we saw it .. let me go check the phone log on the cell phone...
Looks like my wife called me back at 9:38 p.m. , to tell me not to do anything stupid when we were going back to take pictures .... so in reflection an accurate timeline would probably be:
--snake first seen at about 9:30
--snake photographed between 9:45 and 10:00 p.m.
FYI --- the time on the lower corner of the screen of my laptop is exactly 10:36 a.m. just before I am sending this to you.
NOTE: A map of the location where this snake was found can be viewed HERE. This area is one of the least developed portions of this highway, which helps explain how such a large rattlesnake would show up there.
March 24, 2007: Diamond-backed Water Snake, Austin, Texas
I hope this is the correct email address for you! I'm fairly sure this little guy [THE SNAKE] (less than a foot long) is a bull snake, but I'd like to have you make sure. I do have a few other shots if you need more.
When he was riled, he flattened his head, and coiled (obviously) like a rattler. He also struck at the stick I used to put him in this bucket.
We're in East Austin, nearly to Manor, and we see snakes all the time, but I'm never sure if they're rat snakes or bull snakes. Thanks for your help
Your snake is a diamond-backed water snake (Nerodia rhombifer rhombifer), non-poisonous (but will bite, though at this size, the bite probably won't break your skin--a mature snake in this species can produce painful, bleeding wounds), and beneficial.
Thanks for the photo. Please do send the other photos.
We turned him loose over the fence. He seemed to have some sort of deformity just behind his head...there was an odd twist right there.
I had never heard of this species before. Thanks for your information!
I had wondered, from the initial photo, if that might be the case. Thanks for the additional photos. I enlarged the head to show the labial scales, and posted that to the same page as your other photo. Thanks again.
March 24, 2007: Unidentified snake, Athens, Texas
My husband and some workmen killed this snake [THE SNAKE] in front of our house in Athens, Texas yesterday morning. They thought it was a copperhead, but I think it is some sort of a rat snake. I do not have very good pictures of it, but I am sending the best one.
Could you tell us what it is please?
It would help if you could describe the total length of this specimen and the structure of the tail (not pictured). Did the tail have the same pattern as the rest of the snake, or did the saddles become rings? Can you also take a close-up photo of the head and tail and send it? I know it is probably long gone by now, but I had to ask.
It is impossible to make a precise identification from this photo, but one thing is very clear--it isn't a copperhead. The copperhead has either broad copper-colored bands (the broad-banded and Trans-Pecos copperheads) or hour-glass-shaped markings (the southern copperhead).
Saddles on the spine, and blotches on the sides, as with your specimen, are characteristic of several species, all non poisonous, including the Texas rat snake, Louisiana pine snake, the bull snake, Sonoran gopher snake, Texas night snake, great plains rat snake, corn snake, Texas glossy snake, and the Kansas glossy snake.
Superficially, several poisonous snakes have markings that can also be described as spinal saddles and lateral blotches, though their bodies are not smooth and shiny, like your specimen, and the lateral blotches are less distinct. These include the Mojave rattlesnake, prairie rattlesnake, desert massasauga, western massasauga, and western pygmy rattlesnake.
The size of this snake suggests it is mature, yet the head seems to have dorsal markings, which rules out the Texas rat snake. Also, the head does not appear to be larger than the neck, and the neck markings are suggestive of those found on the Kansas and Texas glossy snakes, as well as those of the corn snake, great plains rat snake, Texas night snake, Sonoran gopher snake, bull snake, and Louisiana pine snake. A close up photo of the head would clarify which of these is most likely.
The Sonoran gopher snake, bull snake, and Louisiana pine snake all have rings at the tail rather than saddles.
Many thanks for the photo.
I am attaching the next best picture....the camera is not that good. Joe said it was at least 3 ft long and snapped at them. I told him that I would have snapped too if they were after me with a bunch of hoes and shovels!
Thanks very much for the reply. I am very relieved to know that it is not a copperhead. I am quite afraid of snakes, but I do know that rat snakes are beneficial. We have lots of little moles around and this snake was probably just looking for his breakfast. Also they were doing some yard work and clearing some "underbrush" across the road yesterday morning and this may have driven him out from under cover and over to my "yard" if you can call it that. We have just recently moved into our new house and our front "yard" is a couple of acres with little grass,etc which made the snake easy to see.
Again, thanks and if you can tell anything else from the picture, please let me know.
Thanks, Ruth. I envy you; a new home with acreage, in east Texas.
Thanks again for the photos
March 23, 2007: Southern Black Racer, Huntsville, Texas
I photographed this snake [THE SNAKE] yesterday near Huntsville, Tx.. At first glance, I thought it might be what we used to call a 'Coachwhip.' However, I am not absolutely sure.... The details of the snake really stand out when the photo is full-screen.
The coachwhips and racers, though members of separate genera, are very much alike and very hard to distinguish. You may be right in thinking this is a coachwhip, but the scalation of the head, especially just above and behind the eye, suggests it is more likely a southern black racer. The latter is typically found most often in northeast Texas, from Mount Pleasant north and eastward, and that is a bit north of your location, but it isn't unusual for snakes to move beyond their historical boundaries.
March 23, 2007: Desert King Snake, Fort Worth, Texas
Dede heard her small dogs barking in the back yard, and went out to see what they were so upset about. She found the dogs attacking a snake [THE SNAKE], which was playing dead and appeared harmless. She took photos and called for help in identifying the kind of snake involved. She later sent the photos as e-mail attachments.
Many thanks to Dede for the great photos
March 22, 2007: Adult Blotched Water Snake; Temple, Texas
I found this [THE SNAKE] in my driveway, can you tell what kind it is? I have small children and am concerned that it might be poisionous. Any help would be appreciated.
Your snake is a blotched water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster transversa), which is generally harmless (though if threatened, or handled, will bite, and the bite produces painful, freely-bleeding wounds) and beneficial. No need to worry about this one, provided you give it an avenue of escape and don't attempt to restrain it...
March 22, 2007: Adult Texas Rat Snake, swallowing a rabbit, in Flower Mound, Texas
Hi Jerry -
Great photos. Many thanks.
March 22, 2007: Checkered Garter juvenile, Austin, Texas
I've used your great web site a couple of times to identify snakes I've seen around the yard (on the north side of Austin, near Walnut Creek Park), but I never seem to find a picture that looks exactly like what I'm encountering. Attached are a couple of shots of a snake [THE SNAKE] I've seen hanging around near my recycling bin the last couple of weeks. This morning I found it swimming around in the pool. I'm going to guess it's a checkered garter, but any help you can give me in identifying it would be appreciated. It's looks like it's a little over 12" long.
Thanks for your help and for maintaining such a useful site! Oh, and feel free to use the photos on the site if you want.
Great photos! It is, as you supposed, a checkered garter (Thamnophis marcianus marcianus). The prominent markings on the lip scales distinguish it from the ribbon snakes in the same genus, whose lips are unmarked, while the vertical bright crescent at the distal mouthline, the extremely thin spinal stripe, and the squarish spots in two rows, the second row bordered by another thin lateral stripe, establish the species.
I'm pleased to hearl the website has been useful. Keep sending photos, and at the high resolution of these, as they are easiest to work with.
Thanks for the quick response.
And if you don't mind me filling up your inbox yet again, here's [ANOTHER SNAKE] I was able to catch in action around the house. This one climbed a limestone brick wall on my garage to take up temporary residence in a light fixture (a place we normally see geckos). This was back in October 2004, same house in north Austin. This one was shy, harder to take pictures of, and I was never able to satisfactorily identify it. This snake too was probably around a foot long.
A photo of just the midbody and tail of a snake, without the head, presents a few difficulties. A close evaluation of your photos, however, indicates this is a juvenile Texas rat snake. Geckos are a favored prey for the species, and it is not unusual to find them wrapped around light fixtures where, before, a covey of geckos had been hanging out. The Texas rat snake will eat just about anything that moves, with the exception of toads, whose toxins are too much for its endocrine system.
March 21, 2007 Two Eastern Hog-Nosed Snakes, Mating
Southwest Montgomery, Tx
My dog found these two snakes [THE SNAKES] this evening, they did not bite as they are mating, I think. I cannot recall ever seeing this kind before. We did not kill them as we thought they might be harmless or even King snakes.. any help will be appreciated. We live in Southwest Montgomery, Texas.
Barb and Don
Barb & Don
March 20, 2007 Unknown Juvenile in the Houston area
I have been reading your site on snakes and have found the information helpful. I have encountered what I think is a juvenile snake on my driveway twice since Sunday. I do not believe it is venomous from the information you have given but I cannot find detailed information in the color changes from young to older snakes. The snake is only 6-8 inches long and very slender (about the size of a standard pencil) When I found it today, it had been hiding under a plastic recycle bin kept on my driveway. The snake is pink and terra cotta in color. It appears to have stripes running the length of its body but I did not have the thought to take a picture. Maybe next time. I believe from your description it may be a rat snake . The head is somewhat triangular and definitely appears shiny. Also, the first time when I met the snake, I tried to gently use a broom to encourage it to slither away. It tends to want to stay still and holds it head up about 2-3 inches off the ground like it is looking around. When I uncovered it today it did the same thing. It does not want to retreat quickly like the area geckos and lizards.
Again, sorry I have no picture. Maybe I will see it again. Do you have any thoughts?
Since you didn't say it looked like a worm, it probably isn't a blind snake (the blind snakes in Texas are pink, and some appear to have longitudinal stripes, but all are typically mistaken for earthworms the first time they are seen). You didn't mention a sulfur-yellow tail, which juvenile copperheads and western cottonmouths have, so it probably isn't one of those (their juveniles are otherwise pink in color, with obscure markings, at the stage of development you mention), and I presume it has a tapered, pointed tail, without the button that a rattlesnake juvenile would have. If by triangular head you mean the jaws are wider than the neck, it isn't an amelanistic (colorless) coral snake, since that species has a head that is no wider than the neck.
All that seems to indicate the snake is not poisonous. Without a photo, it would be impossible to identify it beyond that, so I am looking forward to your soon-to-be-provided photograph of this little fellow. It could very well be, as you suggest, a rat snake, though at this stage in development the markings on the rat snake are very prominent and tend to have a gray background with darker gray splotches, rather than stripes. Two exceptions are (1) the Baird's rat snake (Elaphe bairdi), whose background color is often pinkish and on which is imprinted a series of faint to dark longitudinal stripes, and (2) the Trans-Pecos rat snake, which isn't native to your area.
Several of our non-poisonous snakes tend to travel erect, with their heads high in the air as you describe this one doing. Among them are the racers (in the genus Coluber), and the coachwhips and whipsnakes (both in the genus Masticophis). The western coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum testaceus) has a reddish color phase, like you describe in the snake you are seeing, but all--and especially the whipsnakes--have unusually large eyes that you would probably have mentioned if you noticed them.
Thanks for your report. I presume, from your telephone number, that this took place in the Houston area. Let me know if that is incorrect.
Your Birthcare website is very well done, by the way.
March 20, 2007 Diamond-backed Water Snake (Juvenile)
I have no idea and can't figure it out from your keys - probably because I am so upset! I went out to put my car in the garage and yes it was dark (did not turn on the light) and thought I saw something move - well felt something [THE SNAKE] move
After all the screaming and drama, my husband came and tried to chop it with my kitchen knife - I'm buying a new set tomorrow!
I know you are busy - but I got to know - I know the mama and papa are out there waiting for me!
Rest easy, my friend. Your snake is a diamond-backed water snake (Nerodia rhombifer rhombifer), which is harmless and beneficial. No other snake has those markings.
It is an aggressive snake, because it has to be in order to survive as a predator of toads and frogs, but it (and its mama and papa) cannot hurt you (at least not seriously; the bites of the mature diamond-backed water snake can be painful and bloody, but are othewise inconsequential).
Pray tell, where did this carnage take place? City and state will suffice.
Note: Johjania never replied, so I cannot be certain where this photo was taken.
March 17, 2007 Checkered Garter Snake (Juvenile), Seguin, Texas
This [THE SNAKE] is the snake my daughter-in-law called you about today. not as big as the five foot red racer that scurried out of my way when i was mowing last summer.
Mr. Warren's daughter-in-law called me on Saturday, March 17, and described a small snake she had found. It was clear from her description that it was a juvenile checkered garter snake (one of our harmless, inoffensive, and very beneficial snakes). I asked her to send photos, as my library has few photos of this species in it.
Many thanks to Mr. Warren for taking care of that chore.
March 15, 2007 Eastern Hog-Nosed Snake
I found this snake [SNAKE PHOTOS] in my neighbors backyard, I didnt know what kind it was so I went online to find out when I came across your site. Thanks for the information.
Excellent photos. Thanks.
March 12, 2007 Marsh Brown Snake
We need a little help. Can you tell me (us) what kind
of snake this is?
This is a marsh brown snake (Storeria dekayi limnetes), which is harmless and inoffensive, does not bite (or if it does, the bite is ineffective, as the snake's tiny teeth--used to hold invertebrate prey like slugs and earthworms--are unable to penetrate normal skin), and subsists on a diet of snails, slugs, earthworms and small insect larvae, pretty much in that order. Keeping the slugs and snails down in your garden is this snake's specialty, and that makes it very beneficial, especially to the organic gardener.
The marsh brown snake is found throughout central and east Texas, but is most common along the gulf coast, from Corpus Christi and eastward through Florida. It is distinguished from the Texas brown snake (S. dekayi texana) by three differences in the markings of its head and neck: (1) the lips (the labial scales) of the marsh brown snake are unmarked while the Texas brown snake has prominent markings on its upper lips, the most proment directly below the eye, (2) the marsh brown snake has a dark streak behind its eye, which is absent in the Texas brown snake, and (3) the Texas brown snake has a dark neck patch that extends from the spine through the lateral neck to the edge of the belly scales, but in the marsh brown snake this patch is absent (the slight darkening behind the head is not the patch, which is very dark and has a noticeable edge, at least from a distance).
If you have this fellow in captivity, take some additional closeup photos of its lateral face, to show the dark streak behind the eye in a side view, and send them along. I find lots of the Texas brown, but have never had my hands on a marsh brown snake, so my photo library on that fellow is poverty stricken. If you should consider trying to keep this species in captivity, reconsider the idea, only because it is so difficult to supply it with a proper diet. The earthworms it eats are the smaller ones, not the large ones easily obtained at pet and bait stores. It has to bite the worm in its midsection, double it up, and swallow it folded, to prevent it from wriggling away during the swallowing. Large worms just won't fit down its gullet.
Releasing it into the landscape, near your home, should be just fine. You can do so with a clear conscience because this is a gentle, totally harmless snake.
Thanks Jerry for the great answer. I posted your response on the site.
I'm not the person who had the snake in there house, I'm the CEO of
Christian Gamers Online Inc. (the photos and a discussion are posted at the link posted below)
I hope fireants_TX, the person with the
snake, will follow up with you.
Great website, Mr. Kenerly.
March 9, 2007 Unknown species
Hi! I ran across this webpage and I am wondering are you still accepting digital images of poisonous snakes in the Houston area? We live by a lake and are starting to see snake activity and would like to confirm these images. Thank you!
Yes, we are accepting images of any snake, poisonous or not. I usually identify the snake, reply to the sender via email, and post the images on www.bugsinthenews.com on the same day the message is received.
Thanks!! I will be sending you some pictures. We are a little confused between the coloration of the Rat snake, Copperhead and Moccasin. I have been trying to get close enough to get a distinct shot. This guy is about 3 1/2 to 4 feet long and looks like he hasn't missed any meals. He looks about 4 inches in diameter at midsection. He was sunning himself earlier but then saw me and has been in the lake most of the afternoon. Do any of the aforementioned snakes stay completely submerged for a period of time or just the Moccasin?
The term "water moccasin" is often used as a catch-all for all water snakes, regardless of species, many of which are harmless or at least non-poisonous. All of the non-poisonous water snakes are beneficial, in one way or another. However, many people equate "water moccasin" with "western cottonmouth", a venomous pit-viper. I gather from your remarks that you suspect the snake you are observing to be a western cottonmouth.
Many of our non-poisonous water snakes, a large fraction of which are members of the genus Nerodia, grow to a large girth, like the one you describe. They are often stout snakes, not so long but rather large in midsection, with large heads, smaller necks, and large mouths, and somewhat pugnacious behaviors. All these features spell, to those unfamiliar with these snakes, "poisonous", but in fact the Nerodians are all harmless. Their saliva has a mild toxin in it, and they have rear-facing fangs deep in the back of their throats to prevent prey from escaping, but there are almost no records of humans being harmed by them, and in the few cases where humans have been bitten and affected by the salivary toxin, the effects have been mild and transitory.
The easiest way to tell a non-poisonous water snake from a western cottonmouth is to watch the way it travels in the water. If it glides through the water with its head and neck held high, above the surface, and its body submerged below the surface (especially when it pauses), it is almost certainly non-poisonous (the spine may come to the surface while it is wriggling along in the water, but the body proper is always submerged, and even the spine drops below the surface when it pauses to rest or survey its surroundings). The poisonous western cottonmouth glides with its head and neck a bit lower, and its body floating on top of the water unless it is really hauling it (when the body may, for a short period, drop below the surface). If, when the snake pauses in its travel, the body clearly floats, it is probably a western cottonmouth. The cottonmouth also tends to travel more slowly in the water, and does not wriggle quite as vigorously as a Nerodian water snake does. Most of the photos I receive of water snakes are Nerodians, though many of the photographers were absolutely certain they had photographed a western cottonmouth.
Sorry for dwelling so much on the foregoing, but I got the impression from your remarks that someone had given you the exact opposite information. When dealing with water snakes, remember this: cotton floats, others sink, and it isn't good for one's health to get this backward. In most watercourses most of the snakes you find will be Nerodians, and their fatness is due to the large number of toads they feed on. We can be grateful for that, as toads become a serious problem whenever their population gets out of hand.
I'm looking forward to seeing your photos.
Jerry (note: the above remarks were edited after the initial reply for clarity)
March 6, 2007 Rough Earth Snake, Austin, Texas
My son found THIS SNAKE in backyard. We live in (name of subdivision removed for privacy purposes). Can you ID for us?
thanks- K. Andrews
Can you describe its behavior, its size, and the circumstances under which it was discovered? That will help.
Also, if you still have the snake, can you take close up photos of its head, especially a side view?
Your snake appears to be a rough earth snake (Virginia striatula), but from the photo provided I cannot be absolutely certain. The structure of the head and snout is definitive.
Here is the shot your requested thanks for your assistance. K. Andrews
Note: the photo Mr. Andrews sent in has been added to the page linked to above. It shows the dorsal head, and the unusually detailed scalation of that portion of the snake's body, but the cone-shaped feature of the snake's head that is so distinctive for this species is not obvious. I examined a snake of this species a couple of days ago, and should have taken some photos at that time. My mistake...
March 1, 2007 Texas Brown Snake, Sugar Land, Texas
I am 99% sure that what I have is a Texas Brown snake... but want you to tell me for sure. You state you are not an expert, but in at least one case you knew more than an SPCA investigator, and you are sure-fire smarter on this stuff than me. I found this guy coiled up in the middle of my kitchen floor when I got home from work at 1am. Imagine my surprise when I was tiptoeing through my dark kitchen at that hour and felt something "thump" my pants leg. I about woke up my wife and two little ones with my impromptu outburst... and came darn close to needing a change of pants.
So, I guess my question is (after looking at a couple of pictures on the web) is this a harmless, full-grown Texas Brown or a more harmful, not yet grown something else? My 1% doubt stems from the fact that I live in the middle of a subdivision, at least 1/2 a mile from any "brushy areas", which is where I thought they lived. Also, a website I found before yours stated that these grow to a maximum of 13 inches... but this guy is somewhere between 16-18 inches long. In the picture, he is inside of a pitcher with a 6-inch diameter (my panic container of choice), and based on a couple of different string measurements I got the 16 to 18 inch estimate.
My secondary question is, how in the world did he happen to be in the middle of a fairly heavily traveled neighborhood, not to mention inside my kitchen which is a fair distance from any point of entry on my house?
For geographical perspective, I live in Sugar Land, Tx, a southwest suburb of Houston (down in Fort Bend County).
I just want to make sure what I am releasing before I toss him into the yard... quite possibly a yard of a neighbor... a distant neighbor.
Thanks for your help.
Your specimen is, as you thought, a Texas brown snake (Storeria dekayi texana). The model specimen for this species (Storeria dekayi dekayi) is not found in Texas, but is common in southern Canada, east of the Rockies, and north of the frost line. The two subspecies found in Texas (S. dekayi texana [like your specimen], and S. dekayi limnetes [the marsh brown snake]) are found throughout the state and as far north as the northern boundaries of the U.S., though they remain east of the Rockies and S. dekayi limnetes is rarely found outside the coastal saltmarsh and freshwater marshes between Louisiana and Eagle Lake, Texas. The best way to tell these two subspecies apart (once the snake is identified as a Dekay's brown snake by its pale broad spinal band bordered by small black markings, and its small head) is by examining their labial (lip) scales. Storeria dekayi texana has prominent black marks on five the upper labial scales, while Storeria dekayi limnetes has none. While Storeria dekayi limnetes has no labial scale markings, a scale behind the eye exhibits a prominent horizontal black streak. Your specimen has black labial markings, and a small black dot on a scale behind the eye (not the streak found with Storeria dekayi limnetes), identifying it as Storeria dekayi texana.
Both Texas subspecies are commonly 9-13 inches long at maturity, but maximum length ranges as high as 18 inches for Storeria dekayi texana and 17 inches for Storeria dekayi limnetes. Yours is at the far end of the range for the subspecies involved, but is not a record length.
It is true these snakes prefer brushy woodlands, but they are often found in developed areas, too. We find them often in Austin, Round Rock, and other cities, miles from large forested areas. Their diet consists mostly of slugs and earthworms, but they will also eat insect larvae, sowbugs, spiders, small fish, small frogs, and amphibian eggs.
All subspecies of this snake are harmless and inoffensive to man or our pets. They are difficult to rear in captivity because their preferred prey, earthworms, are difficult to obtain and provide with regularity (night crawlers sold at pet and bait stores are too large, and will not be eaten by these snakes).
Thanks for the report and the photos. Release it to the wild with a clear conscience, in your yard if you wish (where it will help keep slugs in check).
Feb. 23, 2007 Unknown Species, Texas City, Texas
I want to thank you for your easy web site about identifying Texas snakes! We live in Texas City, Texas - near Galveston. My husband found two baby snakes next to one of our palm trees while weeding. We have initially determined they are rat snakes and have put them back. Is there a difference between the identifying descriptions of adult snakes versus babies? These two were only about 4-6 inches long - however, I was clearly able to see the round pupils. Will their body composition change as they get older? ie., will the scales on their heads be different, or the width of their necks thicken? So, can I identify a baby snake before it's fully grown? Again, thank you for your very informative site and for your time answering this question.
You ask a very important question. Certain species of snakes exhibit little or no differences between juvenile, adult, and (how shall I say this, now that I'm in the third class, myself, and... gasp... turning "senior" this year?) "mature" specimens, but others are quite different. The Texas rat snake's markings are configured about the same when young as when mature, but the coloration of those markings changes--generally from a dark gray marking on a light gray background to a dark brown marking on a light orange background; mature Texas rats are so dark that the orange background is all but missing. Copperheads and cottonmouths have sulfur-yellow tails as juveniles, but lose that coloration in the second year of life, so if you see a juvenile snake with a sulfur yellow tail, it probably is one of those two poisonous vipers even if its body markings are not typical of either; juvenile copperheads and cottonmouths lack the pronounced markings of the middle-aged snake, but these species also darken more late in life, when it becomes more difficult to see the pattern. The Texas long-nosed snake is easily distinguished from the Texas coral snake when adult or mature because the body is speckled in ways the coral snake isn't; the juvenile Texas long-nosed snake lacks those speckles, and unless you examine it closely, to discover that its apparent bands are not bands but saddles that don't extend into the ventral scales, you might mistake it for a coral snake.
It is impossible to overstress the importance of careful study when dealing with snakes found in the wild. Evidently, you know that already. It is always a joy to hear from someone like you. Please keep in touch as you encounter more of the snakes in your surroundings, and consider sending photos (the higher the resolution the better). I'm planning to do another round of "Texas Snake Encounters" on the website this year, and will put your report in with the rest (it may take a couple of weeks, as I'm configuring a new computer system and am dead in the water vis-a-vis my website until the new website editor is up and running).
Thanks for the kind words. The website is very crude at present. Any corrections or suggestions will be very welcome.
Feb. 22, 2007 Rough Earth Snake, Copperas Cove, Texas
Is this the correct address to send a snake sighting/report?
I live in a very populated housing area of Copperas Cove, Texas. Our lawn guy was raking and became quite upset when a snake emerged from his pile of leaves and made it way to our driveway.. When he called for us I came out to find him comically held at bay by a less than a foot long Rough Earth snake. The snake was not acting aggressively at all and did not try to run or fight when I picked it up. Although it did defecate on me.. Least of my worries.
I am originally from Southern Arizona so I am used to critters like this.. I've owned quite a few reptiles so I know how to handle them. Cant say though that I wasn't slightly nervous holding a snake I'd never seen before. We've seen a ton of striped garter snakes in the last year we've lived in this particular house but we have yet to see a snake like this.. He/She is around a foot long and chocolate brown (solid).. teeny-tiny head and a fairly wide/round body. I'll tell you one thing these little guys aren't easy to identify, especially since I was looking for different color variations of garter snakes.. I was relieved to find out that Rough Earth snakes live mainly off of earth worms and are commonly found in leaves and such.. No harm there.
I have attached 2 pictures of the snake [SNAKE PHOTOS 1 & 2]. I apologize for the quality as I took them with my cellular camera. I have the snake in a baby wipes container with some alfalfa for now. I plan to release him tomorrow when my lawn guy finishes the leaves. I figured for his sake and the snakes I'd better not release him tonight.
Copperas Cove, TX
Thanks for the photos, and the report.
It's a good thing, for the snake's sake, that you are so well versed in herpetology.
Again, many thanks.
Reported to www.bugsinthenews.com
Edited by Jerry Cates, EntomoBiotics Inc.
The following reports were e-mailed to us on the dates indicated. Many thanks to all who have taken the time to provide accounts of their experiences. Names are, in most cases, reduced to initials to protect the privacy of the contributors, but the locations of the sightings are shown. Note that many reports do not indicate where the encounter took place. I urge all who send us future reports to mention at least the state/province and city where the encounter took place in your report.
All reports sent in are answered as quickly as possible, and questions posed in the reports are addressed in the reply. The text of specific replies is not always provided in the text below, but may include editorial comments from time to time in response to particular questions. NOTE; Time constraints have prevented us from adding additional reports to this page. All reports that are sent in are read immediately and replied to. Please mention in your report where the encounter took place.
Following are snake encounter reports received during 2004:
August 26, 2004
What a rude awakening my husband got about 5 am this morning.
While using the bathroom – “something” bumped his foot. With
the help of the night light in there he could see something moving so he
turned on the big light. Man, I am glad it was him in there and
not me! I would have had a major heart attack!
What a rude awakening my husband got about 5 am this morning.
While using the bathroom – “something” bumped his foot. With
the help of the night light in there he could see something moving so he
turned on the big light. Man, I am glad it was him in there and
not me! I would have had a major heart attack!
We are new to
We are new to
Sorry the pictures did not come out very clear. I was a little on
the “shaky” side when I took these and “he” was pretty wiggly
but wanted to get them off to you ASAP so I will know what to do with
the snake. Let it go or call an exterminator?
Sorry the pictures did not come out very clear. I was a little on
the “shaky” side when I took these and “he” was pretty wiggly
but wanted to get them off to you ASAP so I will know what to do with
the snake. Let it go or call an exterminator?
Mrs. A. L.
August 14, 2004
Thank you for the great website. If you haven't done so already, I think the "Snake Encounter Reports" should be referenced by Central Texas online city guides/news/resource since the information serves the residents.
I discovered the snake in the two attached photos underneath the cover of the hot-tub in the back yard (Great Hills area of Austin).
It's a great swimmer and really likes the hot-tub. My first attempt at moving it with a long rod resulted in losing it under the deck.
When I opened the hot-tub cover about an hour later, it was underneath again. This time, I managed to move it into a bucket and cover it with a lid.
This one doesn't look quite the same as any you've already posted.
Would you please ID this?
I'd rather not kill it if it's harmless, so what would you recommend in terms of removing it
D.Y., Austin, TX
August 12, 2004
I saw that you wanted photos. This one was killed so it is a little graphic. But it was found in Caldwell county last week.
A friend of mine found it at her home. Her dogs actually were out running around and she noticed that they were acting strange. They chase toads and bugs often, but she said that were jumping back and acting different. So she went over and noticed the snake and knew right away that it was a coral. She yelled to her husband and her oldest dog started attacking it. None were hurt, they checked for the next thirty minutes. She said that it was not aggressive and that it was trying to get away, but they knew that they had to kill it. I think they used a shovel. She said that it was about 16 inches or so long.
live outside of Caldwell- out in the country. There are a lot of
homes out there, but they are really spread out. and not really any new
construction. They also live next to a lake and a lot of un-cleared
N., Caldwell County, Texas
Editor's Note: Folks who live in or near wilderness areas with waterways (streams, lakes or ponds) will see snakes from time to time no matter what they do. A few suggestions for limiting the number of snakes: (1) keep the grass mowed short but also clear clutter and debris from around the home and outbuildings; (2) treat regularly and aggressively for mice and rats, using baits secured properly in child and pet resistant containers (traps will NOT do the job); (3) keep pet food in hard-sided, snap-top containers to discourage rodent activity; (4) feed dogs and cats at regular times during the day, but immediately clean up after them, washing and putting away their food dishes when they've finished eating; (5) scoop that pet poop daily, or wash it into the soil with a strong stream of water, to keep wild animals away; (6) discourage toads from taking up residence near your home by removing their habitats; and (7) if you STILL see snakes around, use small quantities of snake repellant, which can be purchased at most farm and nursery supply outlets, placing the granules around the perimeters of your home and outbuildings during the spring, summer and fall seasons.
Most look at this daunting list and despair. Alternatively, get used to seeing snakes from time to time, and become proficient at identifying them. The most aggressive snakes are not necessarily poisonous. Rat snakes, for example, are extremely pugnacious but their bite is essentially harmless, while coral snakes are typically docile and, ironically, eat other snakes.
August 12, 2004
I ran across your site today while doing a little online research on what seems to be a snake problem we may be having. Thank you for putting it up; it's very well-done and quite informative!
I live in a suburban residential development - Frisco - about 15 miles north of Dallas. We live across the street from a golf course that does have an abundance of water hazards. I suspect that may play a role in the fact that we have found 2 cottonmouth snakes in our yard in the last 10 months.
The first was in early October 2003 [see pics 551/553]. It was a small 16" - 18" skinny snake found right on our front doorstep. It was VERY aggressive. Having been raised in the desert of Southern California, it looked an awful lot like a rattlesnake to me. It even struck with its bite, and rattled its tail like one.
The next morning, the Collin County SPCA sent out their snake expert. He was rather concerned to find a snake of that nature in a neighborhood such as ours. Particularly of concern to him (and me) was the fact that there are many small children in the area. Also, I have a 2-year-old nephew who visits frequently to swim in my pool.
He explained that these snakes are always euthanized when caught. At the time, I thought he was laying it on a bit thick, but I have subsequently learned that he was appropriately concerned.
Today brought us snake #2 [pic 1423]. It was discovered underneath an inflatable pool toy (which my little nephew would not have hesitated to pick up) about 2' from the edge of our pool. My 20-year-old son picked the toy up, saw the snake, and accordingly ran like hell!
He called me on my cell and wanted to know what to do; not only was he sure this was a cottonmouth, but this snake was many times bigger than the first. My immediate concern was that A) the snake would escape and possibly come in contact with one of the neighbor-kids, and B) an attempt to capture it could pose a similar hazard.
For better or worse, and with the strictest of instructions, I told him to shoot it.
My son is 6'3". As you can see, comparatively, the snake was at least 4' long. I would guess it's weight at about 4 - 5 lbs.
My question to you is this: How common is it to have 2 cottonmouths in an area such as this in so short a period of time? I have discussed this with my neighbors, and with a few exceptions, most of them have never even SEEN one of these snakes.
I would be interested to hear any insight you may have on this issue.
Thank you for your time and attention. And thanks again for taking the time and effort to put up that great site!
S. M., Frisco, TX 75035
Update from S. M., dated 8-16-04:
Thanks again for sorting this out for us. I am not a snake expert, and admit that I am somewhat snake-phobic. I suspected at the time that the SPCA "expert" we dealt with was a &$@#*. As I said in my email of 12 August I felt he laid it on a bit thick...
I now regret my decision to have my son dispatch what turns out to have been a harmless snake. At the same time, I am VERY glad to know that we don't have extremely venomous snakes dropping in on us at regular intervals.
I hope others can learn from this error via your site.
Thanks again for your time and attention, and I know that many of us non-experts out there sincerely appreciate your fantastic site!
Editor's Note: First, since I know the definition of expert, I won't claim to be one (in truth, of course, I'm not one, in any sense of the word). Second, though it's too bad the snake had to die due to a mistake, the only truly regrettable mistakes are those we don't learn from.
July 30, 2004
appreciate your prior help with identifying
snake I sent to you in a picture in June.
Attached is a photo of
this time spotted in
for your help,
July 29, 2004
Just a quick note to let you know how I enjoyed your site. S.W from Georgetown is a friend of mine, she wrote me and my mother as soon as she found that snake on her deck. Sadly I had no idea what this snake was, I told her that I would have called our local animal control to come and remove it. Me+Snakes=major goose bumps.
I read all the letters posted to you and examined the pictures, hopefully the knowledge I learned this a.m. will ease some fears if I should cross paths with any of the slithery little creatures.
Again, you have a great site.
Fort Worth, Texas
Editor's Note: I appreciate the sentiment expressed in this note. My own interest in snakes was kindled by the fascination the public has with them and my own curiosity. We fear most what we know the least about. When humans help others learn more about snakes a benefit accrues to all.
July 27, 2004
I was cleaning up in the back yard and moved a tarp lying on the ground and found this beautiful creature. From the information on your very helpful website it looks an Eastern Black-Necked garter snake. Am I correct? I would estimate its length to be 20-24”. I live in Wells Branch north of Austin, west of I-35.
I’m sure I behaved a lot worse than the snake!
As I mentioned, I moved the tarp and caught a glimpse of the snake in the folds, which gave me a bit of a start since I am not very good at identifying snakes. I was careful not to disturb the tarp and scare the snake, because I had to run inside the house to get my camera.
When I returned I pulled the tarp back and he (she?) just sat there quite motionless. As I moved around to take several photos he moved slowly to get back under the tarp. After pulling the tarp back a couple times to get pictures he finally gave up and headed under the fence to the yard next door. In one of the pictures you can see what seems to be a bulge in the body of the snake – is this perhaps something he ate, and would this be a reason he seemed a bit lethargic?
M.T., Austin, Texas
July 27, 2004
Thanks to your site, I
got confirmation that the snake on my back porch this morning was not
poisonous (this one apparently kills by inducing heart attacks in
unsuspecting housewives). You even had a pic of one here in
Georgetown! The one on my porch was much bigger than the one on your
site, but I wasn't about to pick it up to show you.
S.W., Georgetown, Texas
July 25, 2004
Please help us to identify this snake. It was found in our kitchen last night and we do not have a clue what kind it is.
Thank you so much
Editor's Note: The snake in question was a Texas long-nosed snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus). Click on the link to view the photos.
July 24, 2004
We came home to a dead dog that we thought had a heat stroke but later that night my son found this burrowed under a tree..please tell me what kind this is and if its poisonous or not....we have also killed 2 black snakes with like a greenish yellow belly...we live in Huntsville,Texas...
Thank you for your help...
Editor's Note: The snake burrowed under the tree was a southern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix); the black snake was a yellow-bellied water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster). Click on the links above to view photos of each snake.
July 21, 2004
I would appreciate your help in identifying this snake. I think it is a rat snake but not too sure.
M.G., Austin, Texas
Editor's note: The photo shown at the above link is of a checkered garter snake (Thamnophis marcianus marcianus). Click on the link to view the photo.
July 19, 2004
Jerry, here are the photos you requested on 4/26/04 when you assisted me in identifying a snake in my back yard. I released it out my back fence into a wilderness area and it was back in my next door neighbor's back yard about 10 days later. It has not been spotted since however. Thanks for your assistance, E. D.
Editor's note: The excellent photos shown at the above link are of a somewhat atypical eastern black-necked garter snake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis ocellatus). Click on the link to view the photos.
June 3, 2004
I am sending you three photos of a Blotched Water Snake that were taken as the snake was finishing a meal. The photos were taken by R. M. in his front yard on South 5th. St. in Temple, Texas on June 3, 2004.
Since Fryers Creek runs thru the back of the property it is not uncommon to see a variety of reptiles about the place. It was late so the pictures are not the best but do show markings well.
Thanks, J. S., Temple, Texas
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