Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blue Racer

One of the best things about moving to a completely new area, away from all things familiar, is that there is so much new stuff to discover.  You wouldn't think that Michigan would be all that different from New York, but surprisingly, it is!

One of the many new things on my list of Things I Must See is the blue racer, a native snake that can get up to four or more feet in length.  Noted for being very curious, these serpents have been seen rising out of the tall grasses to peer at people who are passing by.  Who wouldn't want to see that?  And besides, it's blue!  Blue is just not a color that is terribly common in nature.

About a year ago someone brought a dead juvenile blue racer into the visitor center - a tiny, black and white spotted thing.  We placed it in a jar of alcohol to preserve it - very sad.  But I wanted to see an adult...and preferably alive.

Well, I got half my wish last night.  Toby and I were headed down the road four our evening walk, and I saw a snake on the shoulder.  It was obviously deceased.  But when I looked at it closely, I just had a feeling it was a blue racer.  It had crawled out on the pavement to warm up in the next-to-last nice day were were going to have, and someone clipped it with a car (or truck).  

I gently picked it up - the injuries were minimal - and carried it home.  This morning I brought it in to work to verify the ID, photograph it, and see if we could preserve it.

So, here it is:

The white chin/throat is one of the keys to identify this species.

As is the gorgeous pale blue coloring on the scales along its sides.

Gary figured the snake was three to four years old, based on the size.  Saddened to see the waste of such a glorious life, we found a specimen jar into which I could coil it.  We'll fill with alcohol had have the animal available for programming...although we'd rather see it alive.

Word to the Wise:  if it's a beautiful fall day, toasty warm with winter on the way, please be careful when driving down the roads.  Snakes of all sizes may be out sunning themselves, catching the last rays of warmth they can find before they slither off to dens to sleep away the winter.  Like turtles crossing the roads in the spring, try to avoid hitting the snakes.  If possible, assist them off the road so other vehicles won't hit them...although they'll probably crawl back out because that's where they want to be:  soaking up the heat from the sun-warmed tarmack/asphalt/pavement.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the snake of my Michigan childhood! But I never saw one stand on end to peer out of the tall grass. That would have been something to see! So sad that lovely snake got killed.