Last week one of our volunteers brought us a small brown snake. We are currently snakeless in our exhibit area, so we thought this might be a nice addition.
It turns out, though, that brown snakes (Storeria dekayi) do not make good exhibit animals, for they are rather shy and retiring. Not only that, but, like all snakes in our area, they hibernate for the winter. This fellow wanted to hide – and hide it did, under the waterdish.
Brown snakes are small, reaching maximum lengths of only 9-18 inches. The fellow we had here was probably six or seven inches long.
Now, this is a snake one might easily find in urban areas. And it’s not a snake one needs to fear. First of all, it is small – nothing that small can take much of a bite out of you, even if it wanted to. Secondly, it is not venomous. The only things that should fear these small snakes are things like worms and slugs, which make up the majority of their diet.
We decided to let this snake go, and when we went to retrieve him on Friday to turn him loose, we found he had shed! So we now have a nearly perfect brown snake skin in our collection.
It seems that fall and spring are the times of year to find these snakes. And wouldn’t you know that last night I found one, too, while out walking the dog.
This one was even smaller than the one we had at work, probably no more than four inches long. I saw a worm this morning that was three times as big. I carried him home for a few quick photos, then turned him loose out behind the house.
I’m guessing by the size that this one was born just a few short weeks ago. According to the literature, the females give birth to upwards of 30 babies in mid-to late summer. Ah – so this is one of the snakes who have live birth. So much for the idea that all reptiles lay eggs! And, not only is it cool that some snakes have live birth, but the word used to describe this is also cool: ovoviviparity!
So, be on the lookout for little brown snakes. If you see one in the road, like I did, help it across. There is enough roadkill along our byways that it behooves us to help the living make it across to safety.