The purpose of this post is to illustrate something I mentioned previously about there always being an exception to the rules when it comes to identifying snakes. As is the case with many other wild animals, snakes don't always look like they're supposed to. Just like a piebald deer or an albino alligator, snakes with aberrant coloration or pattern are occasionally found in the wild.
|What the heck is that? It sure don't look like no picture in the field guide.|
While this little guy doesn't display any form of albinism, his pattern is wildly different from the norms for the species. When you rely entirely on pattern and coloration to identify snakes you may be left in the dark when something like this turns up. It was especially confusing for the museum biologist who tried to identify the snake for someone describing it to him over the phone. He finally decided he would just have to go see it for himself, because the description the caller gave him just didn't make sense. When he arrived on the scene he was delighted to see that the snake was just an unusual specimen, and the caller actually wasn't that bad at giving a description.
Here's the deal. The first person to submit the correct identification of this snake in a comment below, wins a prize. Please be as specific as possible with your guesses. A scientific name would be nice, but an accurate common name is perfectly acceptable.
I have a few extra copies of a very good snake guide to Florida which will be your prize if you have any interest in southeastern snakes. If you live somewhere else in the country, I may have a snake book for you too. If you're not so much interested in snakes (but have an insatiable desire to win or prove your snake ID prowess), I can probably come up with an alternative prize... but it may turn out to be a surprise. Don't worry, I won't mail you any live snakes. Remember, I'm not in the business of trying to promote snake fears.
I'll give a few hints...
- This snake was found in the wild, in central Mississippi, and it is a species native to that area.
- It is not a captive bred color morph, hybrid, or "designer" pet trade variety. In other words- it's not a fancy escaped pet. It was found in the wild as a product of mother nature.
- The snake's morphology will help you identify it. If you don't know what morphology means, look it up.
May the guessing begin!
Oh, by the way... Kelly, you're not allowed to play.