Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We Know What Scares You: Snakes

Photo: C. Weir, October 27, 2009. Underside of a San Bernardino Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus modestus) found dead on October 23. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Sometimes, the only way to learn if a species lives in the neighborhood, is to find a dead one. (We do not condone killing snakes, as they are a vital part of our ecosystem.) Weir found the already dead snake at the end of Riverside Place where the path leads to the Red Car Property. Weir said the snake had bite-mark puncture wounds (photo below). The snake is about a foot long and a half-inch in diameter.

Weir thinks it is a San Bernardino Ring-necked Snake. Cal Herps confirms it and continues, Ring-necked snakes are "mildly venomous, not considered dangerous to humans." When threatened, the snake coils its tail like a corkscrew; exposing the brightly colored underside; sending the message to predators, "Do not eat!"
Photo: C. Weir, October 27, 2009. The gray-green back of the San Bernardino Ring-necked Snake helps it camouflage in moist habitat, like Red Car Canyon. (Click on photo to enlarge for excellent detail in the scales.)

Ring-necked Snakes prey on worms, slugs and small reptiles, particularly Slender Salamanders, which are found both on the Red Car Property and in backyards on Riverside Place. They also eat tadpoles. In El Nino years, tadpoles appear in the vernal pools in Red Car Canyon. So be on the lookout for these small snakes on cloudy days, at dusk and after dark.

See photos of live San Bernardino Ring-necked Snakes on Cal Herps.

This week, we're counting down to Halloween with scary stuff from the 'hood. If you have photos of neighborhood reptiles, bugs, birds or mammals send them to us: