Lately … I have seen SNAKES, SNAKES, SNAKES – Yuk!
This morning a small, probably harmless SNAKE met me at the faucet as I turned on my garden sprinkler. A little later, I halted in my tracks when I spotted a huge shiny dark slithering SNAKE crossing the street in the direction of the pond. Just last week, I found a wonderfully colorful SNAKE, a couple of houses down; the obvious victim of direct contact with a car tire. Yes! Yes!
The snakes in question are the venomous Coral Snake, and my favorite copycat, the Florida Scarlet Snake. Oftentimes in nature, a species will mimic the appearance of a dangerous species, for protection. Animals know to stay away from the venomous Coral Snake, so a similar color pattern has helped other snake species survive.
There’s one little glitch, however. Though the mimic snake has a similar size and shape, and the same Red-Black-Yellow color scheme, the order of the pattern is different. For some reason, the mimic, has black bands every other color. The coral snake is the only one that has alternating yellow bands. Thus, with the Coral snake, the red band touches the yellow band, and with the mimics, the red band touches the black band.
Here is what I love – In order to help folk remember how to distinguish a venomous from a harmless SNAKE, a man named “Fat” Jack Loticus developed a rhyme in 1862.
Red and yellow, kill a fellow
Red and black, friend of Jack.
Cool, Huh? I always say that rhyme to myself, just to be sure.
Anyway, imagine our Virginia pioneer ancestors forging their way through the mountain side forests and rockbed rivers, and the encounters they must have had with SNAKES. Some SNAKES common to southwest Virginia are shown below. Would you recognize them if you happened upon one?
If you want to know more about SNAKES, visit http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/VHS/reptiles/snakes/snakes_of_virginia.htm