Where are all the snakes?

One thing that I have learned on my time on iNaturalist is that many animals are much more common than I thought they were---if I took the time to look. I have become accustomed to such things as seeing the tracks of muskrats in the wet mud of a stream, of realizing that a distant speck is a bald eagle, and of picking out a hummingbird surrounded by leaves.

But not reptiles. In the six months of living here, I have gotten photos of three garter snakes, a gopher snake, and some turtles sunning themselves. One of the garter snakes was yesterday. The gopher snake, and one of the garter snakes, was during last summer's wildfires, when the sky was hazy. Perhaps they came out because they needed to bask.

There have also been a few times when I saw a snake but it got away before I could photograph it. But in general, they seem pretty sparse.

And at this point, I have visited a lot of different ecosystems and landscapes, and have done it very extensively. Over the past 7 months, I have...somewhere over 2000 observations. I've been everywhere from city parks to national wildlife refuges, in forests, swamps and meadows, and reptiles, even the modest garter snakes, are very hard to come by.

Am I missing something, or are they really that rare in this area?

Posted by mnharris mnharris, March 27, 2021 19:24

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Red-spotted Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis ssp. concinnus)

Observer

mnharris

Date

March 26, 2021 02:46 PM HST

Description

I had last seen a garter snake in January, and then I saw two of them, in the same place (recently emerged from a hibernation den, perhaps?). One slithered away, but this one stayed in place. I am not sure which one of the many species of garter snake this could be, but I imagine the close view and distinctive pattern will make it apparent.

Comments

I think reptiles really are that rare here. Garter snakes are here, but the others barely are. Perhaps (pure speculation here) it has to do with the susceptibility of snakes, at least, to fungus infections. Hmm. But snakes thrive in the tropics. I don't know.

Posted by sedgequeen over 1 year ago (Flag)

It is so hard to say, because they might just be in places that we are not. This snake, for example, was next to a creek that was covered with brush and scrub. There could be dozens or hundreds of snakes in a densely covered riparian habitat like that, and we would have no way of seeing them.

Posted by mnharris over 1 year ago (Flag)

Very true.

Posted by sedgequeen over 1 year ago (Flag)

Also, a good comparison might be Meadow Voles. Or moles. I certainly see enough evidence that meadow voles/moles are common, but I have only seen a meadow vole once or twice since I've been here.

Posted by mnharris over 1 year ago (Flag)

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