Don’t Tread on Me

by Donna Lewis

I decided to go look at our pond to see if the water level had come up. I took my camera in case I saw something interesting. And lo and behold, there was a gorgeous Red Admiral butterfly nectaring on an elm tree just off the pond area. 

So I very slowly worked my way around the tree near a ravine and stopped in front of a pile of limbs.  Just as I looked down at my footing I just about had a stroke!!!  Probably 24 inches from my hands holding the camera was a large snake lying on top of the limbs. It was fat, oily, and waiting for a meal… 

Large, oily, and waiting for a meal, says Donna.

I am not scared of most snakes, but when you are not expecting one, it can be scary! Luckily I was able to get a photo before I slowly backed away and went on my way.

As soon as I got back to the house I started trying to identify this snake. I had not seen this particular one before. I find it hard to look at a guide book to correctly identify a snake. So, I sent the photo off to Dr. Crump ( TPWD Herpetologist ) and our own Linda Jo Conn(the celebrated iNaturalist expert) to find out what it was.

Dr. Crump responded really fast and informed me that it is a diamondback water snake. Its scientific name is Nerodia rhombifera rhombifera.  Gotta love these long names.

So this baby is a water snake and has an extraordinary ability to stink! They call that a musking ability, but you know what I mean. Thank goodness it is a non-venomous snake, but it will bite if threatened. It likes to eat frogs and carrion. Oh my.

I won’t be trying to pick it up anytime soon. It’s hard to say who would be more frightened, the snake or the human? Live and let live, I always say! All creatures have their place in nature.

As the sun set later on, I said goodbye to my new friend, and hoped he went to visit someone else.