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Thursday, July 28. 2016
If you leave out the Indigo Snake of the southern US, which can appear black under some lighting conditions, we are down to two species: The Blacksnake (aka Black Rat Snake, aka Western Rat Snake,aka Pilot Black Snake, etc, as in photo) and the skinny Black Racer.
During my years tramping and working outdoors, I have seen plenty of both. I have seen 6' Blacksnakes sunning on ledges on a warm April day on Cape Cod. It is a bit startling to encounter one, at first, because of their daunting size. The fat Blacksnakes like to be near water, and climb trees sometimes. You are more likely to see a Racer racing away on a grassy woodland edge if you have sharp Indian Eyes.
I love to see and identify snakes in the wild. I do not pick them up anymore to say hello as I did when younger. It just annoys the heck out of a snake and they snap at you and pee on you. You cannot catch a Black Racer. Like greased lightning.
Are you old enough to remember when articles were written about whether a critter was "beneficial" or a "pest"? Nobody writes like that anymore in an era where humans are considered the greatest pest in nature.
Seen any black snakes lately?
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I live in Redding CT. Once while driving I spotted a black rat snake on the road and thought I should chase him/her off lest it be hit by a car.
The snake chased me back into my truck. The black racer, on the other hand is much friendlier.
In NC, I love black snakes! They eat mice and rats but best of all, they eat copperheads! My next door neighbor was bit by a copperhead so I'm ALL FOR black snakes!
Lived in Northern Ohio when I was a kid, our barn was full of black snakes. Remember skins hanging from the rafters. Dad hit one with the mower, felt bad for days. Live in eastern Pa. now, only see garter snakes. They are OK, but not like the black snakes.
We used to have a black racer, about 3 feet long, living in the back yard. I hadn't seen it a while, but did kill 5 rats this summer who had moved into the attic. I miss the snake.
I have a 4+ foot Black racer living in my (east-central Florida) back yard. I warn guests about it so they don't freak out. Good snake. The Pygmy rattlers... not so much. BTW: a juvenile black racer looks and acts like a Pygmy rattler... faux rattles and all.
Not black colored snakes but I saw this about copperheads the other day. It's enough to give you the whim-whams.
Copperhead snakes engage in nightly summertime feeding congregation
As darkness falls on a summer evening and cicada larvae begin emerging, copperheads head to their feeding stations.
"About 9 o'clock, copperheads start coming out of the woods, and they make a beeline for large oak trees," Gluesenkamp said. "It's really pretty incredible, and suggests copperheads may move a lot more and a lot farther than we thought."
The snakes take up stations at the base of trees or among the exposed roots where they easily pick off lumbering cicada larvae aiming to climb the trunk.
And the diner can get crowded. Every copperhead within crawling distance might congregate around prime feeding spots. How many?
"The density can be pretty tremendous - a dozen or more copperheads around the base of a single oak tree," Gluesenkamp said.
To be honest, I was sure the guy was exaggerating," Swanson said.
But he met the landowner one evening a couple of years ago and went to collect what snakes he could find. He knew the snakes had arrived for their evening feeding when he saw an owl swoop though the gloom, grab a copperhead from the base of a tree and fly into the darkness.
"I caught 33 (copperheads) the first night," Swanson said.
All were captured in about 90 minutes. Two nights later, he caught another 27 for a total of 59 copperheads from a 1.5-acre lawn.
Informative read from the Houston Chronicle on Copperheads and Cicada's . Neither which are black but having both these critters in the N/E, this finding may apply here as well?
I have a lovely black with white pattern Baja King Snake. He is gorgeous and a charming pet.
Now I am 74 but when I was 9 I was at a summer camp (Catholic) where all the camp counselors were seminarians and I caught a large Black Snake. This was in North Western Pennsylvania an although I lived in a city we lived on the Northern outskirts and I had spent a lot of time in the woods and had captured multiple snakes by that time in my life. The two counselors who ran the nature hut promised me that they would keep the snake for me in a cage so I could see it the next day. Of course they released the snake as soon as I retuned to the dining hall for dinner. It was the beginning of my not trusting the Church.
Just had a blacksnake get in the chicken coop and kill several keets (young Guiana hens). Anything that disturbs the livestock is considered ready for termination. If they're just out chasing mice then regarded as beneficial and left alone.
Still rural enough for things like this to turn up:
The site was the home of Joseph Plumb Martin at the time and which he wrote about in his diary.
My rather upset cat recently directed my attention to a window (closed) where Mr. Black Snake had somehow reached the brick ledge (65" above grade) and looked to be exploring for possible entry points, extending himself at least 3' above the ledge along the window surface then eventually disappearing into the dusk. Lovely white underside, quite handsome...
END THIS RACIST discrimination against black snakes!
Blacksnakes are one of the few snakes I like seeing. They enjoy eating rattlesnakes and copperheads and are apparently immune to their poison. Sure, they're agro. But they aren't poisonous. If you have a lot of 'em, you probably don't have many rattlesnakes left in the area. Good snake.
I was visiting Houston last week where I keep a wary eye out for all kinds of dangerous critters. The house backs on to a creek and I worry about moccasins and there are gators too. It is so hard to identify snakes sometimes, some of them can look alike. I was in the garden and almost stepped on a 2' Garter snake. We were both surprised and I was amazed at how quickly they can move. I think that gardening in Houston will be a challenge for sure. I am not a fan of snakes, beneficial or not. My husband's work is below swamp level and they are infested with snakes. They kill baby moccasins all the time-and they are mostly black. Yikes.
We live in Missouri on acreage and have learned to live with the black snakes. A couple of years ago one got into the house as he left his shed skin and we never found him so I guess he went back out the same way he came in. We cleaned out our truck today and found a five foot skin under the seats. We have mice that just love the truck so I wish that snake would catch those critters. I will be shocked one day if it comes out around my feet or head while I am driving down the road, but that is life with nature.
Rat snakes are definitely climbers.
This is one in my window from about a year ago.
I'm three stories up. She must've come down from a tree.