Sunday, June 10, 2012

SNAKESSSsss ~ Eastern Ontario's Finest~!!

Eastern Hognose Snake-IMG_8273 copy

I don't know about you folks, but I happen to love snakes~!!  I was recently given a snake and now I just HAVE to share the snake breeds that can be found in my neck~of~the~woods, Eastern Ontario~!!  

Snakes have been regarded as degrading, evil creatures whom many often fear.  They have had bad press from the victors of history for many centuries, often being given the lowest of titles and the derogatories often associated with snakes, do not give the beautiful creatures the justice they deserve.

Once, there was a benevolent God, his name in Sumerian histories is Enki or Ea, the serpent God who carried a basket and brought many goodly things to mankind.  The God who along with his sister, Ninhursag, AND after much experimentation, created the Adamus, the "Black~Haired Slave" to mine the gold veins in order to release the work load of the Gods themselves.  However, along his creationistic journey's, Enki found that being a slave to the Gods wasn't a proper thing to have and he gave his creatures the Freedom of Choice...it is from my early adoration of the story of Enki that my passion for snakes grew as I realized their misrepresentation in our history wasn't going to misappropriate my enjoyment of their essence and their beauty and the true symbol behind their existence~!!

The Snakes with the Stripes ~

photo by Bev Wigney
Eastern Garter Snake ~ Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

Named after the striped garters that men often wore.

Colour:  Black or Brown with Yellow stripes.  Sometimes their stripes run alongside with can appear broken or they will have a subtle checkered patterns in their darker areas.  Reddish~Orange markings along the side are not unheard of.

Length:  Adults can grow up to 124 cm, but typically they average around 60~70 cm.

Characteristics:  Often found basking on rocks or moving along forest trails.  They are live~bearing creatures usually giving birth to 10 ~ 25 young.  Diet often consists of frogs, toads, salamanders, earthworms, small rodents and birds.  They make for excellent swimmers.  If caught, their scent glands will exude a strong musk and they have been known to bite.

Northern Ribbon Snake ~ Thamnophis sauritus septentrionatis

Closely resembles the Eastern Garter Snake

Colour:  Black with unbroken yellow stripes.  Sides below lateral stripe are chestnut brown, the scales in front of their eyes are white.

Length:  Adults can grow up to 96.5 cm

Characteristics:  Slender with a very long tail.  Usually found near water, such as streams, ponds or wetlands.  They are live~bearing.  Their diet includes frogs, small fish and other small creatures found in or near the water.  They are diurnal (active during the day).  

The Snakes with the Blotches ~

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake ~ Sistrurus catenatus catenatus

Ontario's ONLY venomous snake and are designated as threatened.

Colour:  Range from gray to brown.  It has large dark brown splotches on its back with smaller lighter brown patches on its side.  

Length:  Adults can grow up to 70 cm.

Characteristics:  Easily recognized by the segmented end on its tail.  Has a wide triangular head and eyes with slit shaped pupils.  They eat small animals, amphibians and insects.  They like to sun in open fields, grassy meadows and farmed sites.  In the Spring, they can be found in shallow wetlands and shrub swamps.

Eastern Milk Snake ~ Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum

Often mistaken for a Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake.

Colour:  Gray or tan background with brown or reddish brown markings that are edged with black.  They will either have a Y or a V~shaped blotch on back of their neck.  Their undersides are white with squarish black markings.

Size:  Adults can grow up to 132 cm.

Characteristics:  The Milk Snake is found in forests and fields.  It kills its prey via constriction and their diet consists of small mammals and birds.  Females lay their eggs in or under rotting logs or in burrows.  

Black Rat Snake ~ Elaphe obsoleta

The largest of all the snakes to be found in Ontario.

Colour:  Black backs with irregular dark blotches along their sides.  Their underside's are light coloured with square or mottled markings.

Size:  Adults can range up to 256.5 cm

Characteristics:  It prefers rocky, forested areas and has been known to move about in trees as well as on the ground.  It loves to eat chipmunks, squirrels, birds eggs, nestlings and frogs and they kill its prey by constriction.  Females lay their eggs beneath rocks or in/beneath rotting logs.  

Northern Water Snake ~ Nerodia sipedon sipedon

They are very feisty and likely to bite fiercely if disturbed.

Colour:  They are brown or greyish brown and have dark brown squarish banded markings on their backs and sides.  Their undersides are light with crescent shaped markings.

Size:  Adults can grow up to 135 cm.

Characteristics:  They can usually be found in or near water in marshes, streams, lakes and rivers.  It enjoys eating frogs and fish near the water's edge and can move very quickly through water.  It is a live~bearing creature and its babies are often mistaken for Milk snakes.


The Snakes with the Uniformed Markings ~

Smooth Green Snake ~ Liochlorophis (Opheodrys) vernalis

This snake does not defend itself, but it can move very fast and its the only green snake in the area.

Colour:  Bright green, with white or yellowish underside.

Size:  Adults can grow up to 66 cm.

Characteristics:  Found moving along the branches of bushes and small trees.  They are an egg~laying species and can lay up to 10 eggs.  Their diet consists of crickets, grasshoppers, snails and spiders.

Redbelly Snake ~ Storeria occipitomaculata

Makes an excellent garden snake.

Colour:  Brown or gray backed with a narrow striping down its back. There is a small patch of 3 white dots on the back of their necks.  Their bellies are red or reddish~orange.

Size:  Adults can grow up to 40.6 cm.

Characteristics:  Usually found in meadows and forest edges.  They eat worms, slugs and insects.  They are live~bearing creatures and can sometimes be found under rocks or boards around gardens.

Northern Ringneck Snake ~ Diadophis punctatus edwardsii

Ontario's most secretive snake.

Colour:  Slate gray, brown or black with distinct yellow or orangish band around its neck.  Belly is can be yellow, orange or red.

Size:  Adults can range up to 62.5 cm.

Characteristics:  Found in the woodlands, it is a nocturnal hunter.  Diet includes salamanders, earthworms, frogs and other small snakes.  Loves to hide under stones and logs during the day.  Females lay small numbers of eggs.  

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