26 October 2010

An expired northern brown snake in my way

This dead snake was on the path where I was taking my after lunch walk today in College Park, Maryland. I wrapped it up in a paper napkin and carried it to my office right under the noses of security officers on the way in. Luckily, dead snakes don't make metal detectors beep.

The characteristics of the snake's head match the pictures and descriptions in the books for the northern brown snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi). I hope I am not mistaken.

Almost 2 years ago I photographed a live northern brown snake in the same neighborhood. According to Conant's & Collins' Reptiles and Amphibians (Peterson Field Guides, 1998), the habitats of this species include parks, cemeteries and empty lots in cities. This specimen was 23 cm long, which, according to the same book, is the lower limit of the range of the adult size of the northern brown snake.

According to White's & White's Amphibians and Reptiles of Delmarva (2002), the diet of the northern brown snakes includes slugs and snails among other invertebrates. Hence my interest in the species.

The snake is now in ethanol. I will attempt to dissect it one day. Maybe there will be snail remains in its stomach.

1 comment:

Fred Schueler said...

If anyone lives at home, the question of which snails. worms, and slugs Storeria dekayi and S. occipitomaculata actually feed on, and the difference between the diets of the species, is one of the leading unanswered questions for North America. As nomads, we've failed to keep them in captivity in a way that allows us to study this (insert emoticon denoting discouragement here).