Brumation termination

A few days of record-setting temperatures appear to have terminated brumation for at least one species of snake at Huntley Meadows Park: several Eastern Gartersnakes (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) were spotted during a photowalk along the Hike-Bike Trail on 09 March 2016.

An Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

I heard this one before I saw it. In my experience, snakes slithering through leaf litter make a sound that is clearly distinct from leaves rustling in the wind.

An Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

When the snake saw me, it froze and remained motionless for several minutes — a survival strategy sometimes used by snakes when they feel threatened. I estimate the snake is 2.5 – 3.0 feet in length.

An Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Related Resource: Brumation break, by Walter Sanford.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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3 Responses to “Brumation termination”

  1. laura lecce Says:

    Gorgeous snake! I agree that the sound their movement makes gets your attention in a way that wind rustling leaves does not. Is it a poisonous snake?

    • waltersanford Says:

      Although all species of snakes are “harmless” at my favorite marshland park, a bite from any one of them would be unpleasant at best and could cause an infection. Then there’s the whole “poisonous versus venomous” debate. Go ahead, Google the phrase in quotes and you will see how easily the water is muddied!

      • laura lecce Says:

        I should have asked if they were venomous then… Now I know the difference. In Australia we assume all snakes we come across are venomous because they probably are!

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