Baby snakes are hard to identify
Eric and I were swimming one evening when I noticed a small stick floating in the corner of the pool. Upon closer inspection, it was no stick, but an elongate limbless vertebrate in the group Serpentes (i.e., a snake!). Remember, all snakes can swim. And it was having a fine time in its little corner of the pool, but it seemed like a good idea to get it out, just so Eric wouldn't wander over there and either get too excited or too scared. I don't have much experience with snakes, but I'm pretty sure it was a baby snake, not just one of the small species, for several reasons. First, the body length is only about 12 inches. As you can see in the full-body shot below, it fits easily into the deck drainage crack, which is only about 1/8 inch wide: one helpful website, we can classify this snake as having:
- "typical" body shape (on the range slender—typical—stout)
- "medium" head size (on the range "no neck"—medium—broad headed)
- blotched markings
- round pupils (therefore not a pit viper)
I can probably recall every individual basal snake among thousands of other serpents I've seen in the field.This group's popularity has of course led to some problems; here in the Everglades we have a potentially explosive population of Burmese Pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) to deal with. The advanced snakes, the Colubridae, make up about 80% of the world's snakes, so I'm sure there's going to be some taxonomic shuffling soon; no grouping of nearly 2000 species is safe from splitting. References Ashton, R. E. (1988). Handbook of reptiles and amphibians of Florida, part 1: the snakes. 2nd ed. Miami: Windward. Gibbons, W. (2005). Snakes of the southeast. Athens: U of Georgia P. Greene, H.W. (2000). Snakes: the evolution of mystery in nature. Berkeley: U of California P.