Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Red Rat Snake in Jacksonville Florida

Last night, June 17th, at approximately 8:18pm, I saw this red rat snake slithering through my grass in my front yard. It was serendipitous that I happened to glance out my front kitchen window and see something colorful in the bright green grass.

Red Rat Snake Slithering in Grass in Jacksonville Florida
Red Rat Snake Slithering in Grass in Jacksonville Florida
Photo Taken by JaguarJulie Ann Brady, June 17, 2014, 8:18pm
At first, when I saw the bright reddish color of that snake, I thought it might be a Scarlet Kingsnake as I had seen a Florida Scarlet Snake in my side yard a few months earlier. I thought, this guy is surely the DADDY as he's pretty big - I'd say definitely more than 36 inches and quite possibly approaching 48 inches in length easily!

Red Rat Snake Slithering in Grass in Jacksonville Florida
Red Rat Snake Slithering in Grass in Jacksonville Florida
Photo Taken by JaguarJulie Ann Brady, June 17, 2014, 8:18pm
I didn't know what kind of snake this was when I first saw it, so I was keeping my distance. "Could it be a coral snake?" was something that ran through my mind. As it approached the Drake Elm in my front yard, I came inside for a stick like object.

Red Rat Snake Coiled Up in Jacksonville Florida
Red Rat Snake Coiled Up in Jacksonville Florida
Photo Taken by JaguarJulie Ann Brady, June 17, 2014, 8:19pm
See this picture of the snake rather coiled up? Look to the left and you can see its glaring eyes! I had a long deck brush and gently stuck the brush towards the snake to see if I could perhaps pick it up and move it. Holy Smokes, but that was quite the moment. The snake took a strike at the brush! I took the brush away and tried one more time. Same thing. It was quite the strike. I was wondering, is this a venomous snake perhaps? And, where the heck did it come from as my yard surrounding my house is immaculate and cleared of any hiding places. He must have slithered into my yard from one of the neighbors' yards!

Red Rat Snake Climbing a Drake Elm Tree in Jacksonville Florida
Red Rat Snake Climbing a Drake Elm Tree in Jacksonville Florida
Photo Taken by JaguarJulie Ann Brady, June 17, 2014, 8:20pm
After the red rat snake had taken a couple strikes at my deck brush, I left it alone and wondered where would it go? All around the base of the Drake Elm tree are brick stones. The snake was checking out the various stones for a crevice to crawl into. Within a few moments, the snake was up over the stones and heading for the tree.

Red Rat Snake Climbing a Drake Elm Tree in Jacksonville Florida
Red Rat Snake Climbing a Drake Elm Tree in Jacksonville Florida
Photo Taken by JaguarJulie Ann Brady, June 17, 2014, 8:20pm
Googling "red rat snake" you can find some interesting information. For example, the reference page from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says this is the best climbing snake in Florida! You can see the snake climbing my Drake Elm! Soon the snake disappeared up the tree and I came inside to Google a red snake in Florida to see what kind of snake this guy is.

Yep, almost immediately, I hit upon red rat snake or corn snake. I couldn't understand the "corn" reference and thought I'd have to research that more. I was really interested in what this snake eats.

Another excellent online reference is from the FLMNH. It identifies this as the Eastern Corn Snake. This species breeds from April to June and will lay from 3 to 40 eggs during the summer. The newborns will then hatch from July to September. This snake can actually live up to 22 years in captivity! Could this be a neighbor's pet? Maybe.

Checking the Wikipedia reference on the corn snake - "Pantherophis guttatus is a North American species of rat snake that subdues its small prey by constriction." Oh my, constriction! I was thinking it probably strikes at the prey first and then squeezes the life out of it.

As I saw the snake disappear up my tree, he was surely searching for unguarded birds eggs! His diet also includes small rodents and lizards. I've had a mole in my yard which I would LOVE that snake to take out. I've also got plenty of the brown anole lizards and hope the snake doesn't eat too many of those guys.

Interested in owning one of these snakes? You'll want to secure yourself a copy of Corn and Red Rat Snakes (Guide to Owning A Corn Snake). I'm going to be on the lookout for this guy and see where he is coming from!

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