Saturday, November 8, 2008


In our own backyard and neighborhood in north Durham, I am always delighted to find snakes curled up next to a rock, basking in the sun or making their way to winter hibernacula in autumn. October and November usually are the last months in which we see snakes in the North Carolina piedmont, but the variety of species seen this time of year can be more impressive than even those seen in mid-summer.

Unfortunately, since so many snakes are on the move to their winter hibernacula this time of year, many are run over on roads that they were either basking on or simply trying to cross. Despite their declining numbers, many people are reluctant to let snakes live in their yards or neighborhood, but by killing snakes we are destroying a valuable part of North Carolina's ecological heritage that also serves as a natural predator of common rodent and insect pests.

Below are a few photographs of snake that I've seen in the backyard this autumn. One notable sighting, not pictured, was a mid-sized copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix):

Northern brown snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi)

Rough earth snake (Virginia striatula)

Here are more somber pictures of dead-on-road (DOR) snakes found recently in my small neighborhood:

Mole kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster) DOR

Rough earth snake (Virginia striatula) DOR

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