Disappearing Snakes

As the weather cools off in late fall, most snakes disappear, seeking refuges in which to spend the winter. In our amphibian and reptile studies in southeastern Oklahoma, we have captured very few snakes during the last two weeks. Only two were captured during the third week of October, and both were juveniles. One was a young Eastern Racer (Coluber constrictor) and the other was a young Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster). Both of these are common snakes, but most people do not see Prairie Kingsnakes very often because they are nocturnal and very secretive. Eastern Racers, on the other hand, are very common, and the are the most frequently seen snakes crossing roads during Spring, Summer, and Fall, but only during the day. Because they are very wary and slither rapidly, they are difficult to catch. In addition, when grabbed, the frequently bite! The good news is that they are non-venomous and they are only biting because they are frightened. They are completely harmless, and like most nonvenomous snakes, their bites do not cause infections.

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Juvenile Eastern Racer (left) and Prairie Kingsnake (right).

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