Friday, September 01, 2006

Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)

I had just started out for my morning walk when I spotted a Red-bellied Snake lying in the sun on an eroded hillside among the many rocks there. It was small, less than 12 in. long, and I was surprised that it did not startle and slide away as I approached. I remember seeing a small snake at the same location last year but I could not get a picture of it for it immediately disappeared as soon as I got near. The view was better on the downhill side so I walked around it to get a better look.

After returning home I located my copy of, The Amphibians and Reptiles of New Brunswick, by Stanley W. Gorham, (a 1970 publication of the New Brunswick Museum), to see if I could identify it. I learned that the Red-bellied Snake is the only snake in New Brunswick which has a reddish belly and it is not often longer than 12 inches. There was a light spot or two on the snake's head and that feature also is a characteristic of this species. The colour of the snake's back ranges from dark brown to light brown depending upon the phase it is in.

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