Images of small things from the biggest county in Texas #538 – albeit misplaced – A pretty northern red bellied snake

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We had a healthy amount of rain yesterday and I was excited to see what new growth we would find on our evening walk. My dogs passed right over this beautiful creature that was basking in the waning warmth of the asphalt. Having never seen this species, I gathered him up and brought him home for a proper portrait.

He was a small fellow about 12-14 inches long. Extremely docile little guy who curled comfortably amongst my fingers. His underbelly ran from orange under the head to red at the tail. He posed very nicely and then I released him amongst the four o’clocks.

The small, secretive red-bellied snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) is a distinctive reptile which gains its common name from the crimson-red underside which occurs in most individuals. However, the underparts of this species are known to vary between bright red and yellow .

The upper-parts of the red-bellied snake are also variable and can be grey, brown, red-brown or black with a light, wide stripe which extends along the length of the back . Four narrower stripes may occasionally be present on the backs of some individuals.

The range of the red-bellied snake extends across eastern North America, from southern Canada in the north to Florida and Texas in the south, including Oklahoma, Kansas and North and South Dakota. The red-bellied snake inhabits areas of deciduous or mixed woodland, as well as meadows, marshes, pastures, swamp edges and prairies , where it shelters under rocks, logs or leaf litter on the ground. Within these habitats this species is generally found in moist areas although it also inhabits dry areas such as rocky hills.

May you find something new as you travel an old route. ††† en theos ††† jim work

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