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Snake Sightings

Notthern watersnake

Two species of snake are often seen in Dyke Marsh in the summer.

On July 1, 2016, during a canoe trip in the southern part of Dyke Marsh, FODMers saw an encounter between a common water snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) and a catfish.  Also called the northern water snake, it is probably the most abundant snake in Dyke Marsh.

These photos (by Ed Eder) indicate how the prey was snared in deeper water and dragged to the shore by a very determined snake.  

Northern water snakeThe  northern water snake is “our most commonly seen snake near the water . . . [and] can bite defensively with its long teeth (adapted for holding fish) . . . .,” according to Alonso Abugattas in The Reptiles and Amphibians of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area.

The eastern ratsnake (formerly black ratsnake) (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) is often seen sunning in trees in Dyke Marsh in the summer.   Adults have a shiny black back, white throat and partially checkerboard belly.  It can grow to over six feet long and “feeds on rodents, birds, bird eggs and, when young, on salamanders and lizards,” reports Abugattas.

Photos below by Glenda Booth

eastern ratsnake

eastern ratsnake

eastern ratsnake