How to observe snakes
Snakes are among the most difficult vertebrates to observe in their natural ecosystems. Snakes can be fast-moving, slow-moving, cryptic, camouflaged, small, fossorial, nocturnal, small, silent, and live in habitats humans rarely enter. This is a good thing as these traits have ensured survival from ignorant persecution by humans for many, many species. However, these same traits will make them very difficult to count during the Center for Snake Conservation’s 1st Annual Fall Snake Count. In order to bolster our count, the CSC suggests the following to increase success of everyone participating in the Snake Count.
- Visit an area that is protected from human development (state, county, city parks—make sure you follow all rules of the area you are in).
- Walk slowly along trails thinking about snakes (if you are thinking about butterflies you are likely to look over the snake under the flowers).
- Look at anything that is different or appears out of place twice (think snake).
- Try to picture the snake that you expect to see (watersnakes along the end of a pond or stream, ratsnakes around an old abandoned building, copperhead coiled in the leaves near a rock pile).
- If you can find an elevated boardwalk, take your time crossing it looking twice at places where the sun trickles down to the ground (and think snake). Boardwalks eliminate disturbing vegetation and make it easy to get close to snakes without them hiding.
- Once you find a snake…watch it for a while and take its photo. The time spent observing and not disturbing the snake will help you spot additional snakes.
You may have noticed the common them above is to go slow and think snake. This is what works for me very, very well. I find that if I am thinking about snakes, my subconscious can dig a snake out of the background. Try it below—yes there are snakes in the photos.