CRITTERS AT BRAZOS BEND STATE PARK--SNAKES non-venomous 2
This page was born 10/23/2006.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update: 03\25\2017
Images and contents on this page copyright 2002-2017 Richard M. Dashnau

Here are my other Brazos Bend and/or critter pages:
 ----------------------------------------------------------------                  OR,  FOR OTHER ANIMALS:
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Introduction                  Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Snakes-nonvenomous 1-------------------------------------------      Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3
Snakes-nonvenomous 2-------------------------------------------------Insects, non-toxic
Snakes-nonvenomous 3------------------------------------------------Spiders 
Snakes-nonvenomous 4------------------------------------------------
Snakes-venomous
------------------------------------------------------Mammals 
Snakes-Texas Rat Snakes------------------------------------------------
Birds-Waders
----Birds-Raptors---------------------------------     Lizards!--Turtles!


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Welcome to the Visitor's Center at Brazos Bend State Park. That's me on a trail (03/29/2004). As I get more pictures, these pages expand. I've gotten enough images of snakes to collect them here.

March 07, 2004  I happened to be trying out my new camera today, and was attempting a few new things. It's another Olympus, this time a C750, with the 10X zoom I'm used to. I also found a 2x teleconvertEr lens that I can use with it, which would allow for a possible 20x magnification. It doesn't work *all* the time, but I was able to get an excellent shot of a broadbanded watersnake (see GORGEOUS BROADBANDED, below.).  This was from about 15 feet away. Note the orange (*I* call it orange.) highlights at the edges of the broad dark markings. Also note the vertical black markings on the upper and lower lips. Folks, no water moccasin (cottonmouth) *ever* looked like this.  Copperheads, also, don't really look much like this. Copperheads generally have much lighter colors (variations of pinkish-or copper colored-blotches or bands--not black, or orange). Both Water Moccasins and Copperheads are pit vipers. They have more triangular heads when viewed from the top, and an extra pit between the nostrils and the eyes.  They both also have elliptical (catlike, or slit) pupils, unlike the round ones shown by the Broadbanded water snake here. Broadbanded Water Snakes are NOT venemous and pose no danger to humans.

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                                                          GORGEOUS BROADBANDED

February 21 & 22, 2004  While I didn't notice any snakes Saturday, there were quite a few of them visible Sunday. While I was walking, I encountered two park visitors whom I've often seen. They told me about a spot not far along where you could look to one side of the trail (40 Acre Lake trail, face Pilant Lake), and see one snake, and then turn to the *other* side of the trail *without moving a step*, and see ANOTHER snake. So, of course I went there.  About 15 feet from me, I saw this excellent snake (see GREEN WATER SNAKE, below). It is definitely NOT venemous (compare with the Water Moccasin and Copperheads further above on this page). Water Snakes are sometimes hard to tell apart, and I tried to get clear pictures so I could identify it. It was pretty far off, but I did the best I could with my Olympus C-700.

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                      GREEN WATER SNAKE                                          GREEN WATER SNAKE HEAD                                  SUBOCULAR SCALES?            

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                BROADBANDED WATER SNAKES                               TWO OF THEM, SEE? 

I wasn't thinking clearly, though, and tried to get the entire snake instead of trying to focus on the head, which, it turns out, could have identified the snake for sure. Still, I think it's a  Green Water Snake (according to Audubon Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians); or Mississippi Green Water Snake (according to Texas Snakes, by Werler and Dixon (3rd printing)); both common names for Nerodia Cyclopion.  The coloration is correct, although I can't see the snake's belly. The scales are keeled, which means that they each have a slight ridge in their center (see GREEN WATER SNAKE HEAD, above). But, the *key* indentifier for this species is the presence of a single row of scales under the eye, the "subocular scales" (see SUBOCULAR SCALES?, above), which divide the eye from the scales of the upper lip. According to Werler, "no other Texas water snake has scales between the eyes and the upper lip plates...". My picture isn't quite clear enough to pick these out for sure, but there appears to be a space there. So, I'm going to guess that's the snake (and not a Yellowbelly Water Snake, which some visitors guessed).
The snake on the other side of the trail was one of our Broadbanded Water Snakes, although when I went back later, there were TWO snakes in the same spot! (see BROADBANDED WATER SNAKES, above) So, actually one could see *three* snakes from the same spot. The smaller snake, over a period of about 15 minutes, slowly moved from behind the larger snake, and then climbed onto it as shown here (see TWO OF THEM, above). The larger one moved its head to face the smaller one, and they stayed face-to-face for a few minutes, until the large one lightly bumped the smaller one with its face. Then, the smaller snake "jumped" into the water.
And just think, it isn't even Spring, yet!

December 28, 2003  Today's weather was a lot nicer than promised. It didn't rain, and the temperature was above 60. It was also sunny for most of the day.  Evidently some snakes found the weather pleasent as well. No more than 100 yards from an alligator family, I saw a Cottonmouth (found by one of the sharp-eyed park visitors); a very nice Broadbanded Water Snake (see WALKING, below), that was about 30 feet away.
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                 WALKING WITH A WINTER WATERSNAKE
     (YOU SING WINTER SONGS YOUR WAY, AND I'LL SING THEM MY WAY) 

I tried to get a little closer, but it got spooked when I moved off the trail, so I backed off.  The Cottonmouth also tired of our attention, and moved under a log before I could position the camera. Just past pier number 1, I also encounterd a very nice Ribbon Snake crossing the trail. I moved to bring up my camera, and it slithered off before I could get a picture, though.  Oh, well, at least I got to see them.  Quite nice for a December day!  Have I mentioned how much I enjoy living in Texas?

April 19, 2003 One further little adventure happened while I was doing the Alligator Hike (with the help of Mark and Nancy. THANK YOU!). As I was back at the culvert, talking about the Old Warrior,  one of the visitors suddenly yelled out "there's a snake!" and there was---about 15 inches from my left foot. It was Broadbanded Water Snake, and had come out of the grass near my foot. It stayed there and watched us (there were between 20 and 60 people looking down at it) for at least 5 minutes.  Of course, this was something else to talk about, and we all watched as it tired of our company and moved on down towards the water. I was talking, of course. Imagine that!  Snakes can't even hear and I was able to drive him away. Ha!
ADDITIONAL--04/22/2003

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                                                    WHAT'S UP?
Speaking of snakes, the next day was Easter Sunday, which is always crowded at the park. As I was on the trail, I saw a group of visitors looking under a tree. When I got closer, I saw that they were looking at a medium-sized snake (about 2.5 feet long). I believe it was a Yellowbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster), though it's hard to tell some species of water snakes apart (for me, anyway). The picture above (WHAT'S UP?) shows it doing the "periscope"--that is, it's raising its head above the grass to see what's around it.  Click this link to see a short video clip (flv video 852kb) of it gliding through the vegetation.  Note the yellow underside, and the dark lines around the mouth, and the lack of mottling or shading on the top. Also note the general shape of the head (rounded--like a thumb), and the fact that the pupils of the eyes are round. These are indications that it is NOT a venomous snake, such as a cottonmouth.

January 26, 2003   I suppose we are in our 2nd season. Houston has only two seasons, and not the four commonly known elswhere. These are: Season Number 1--the Hot and Really Humid and Therefore Really Miserable to Some Folks Season; and Season Number 2--the Cold and Really Moist and Damp and Therefore Really Miserable to Other Folks Season.  Today was a good day to stay inside and be warm, or watch a movie, or watch that big football thing. Sometime in the night, my brain must have frozen, because I went out to the park. On the way I drove through three cloudbursts, and witnessed lightning and thunder. Yet, I continued on to the park.
Anyhow, the picture below left (HANDY SNAKE) shows me at the counter of the VC/NC at Brazos Bend State Park allowing a Corn Snake to warm itself around my hand and forearm while I waited to greet and inform the hordes of park visitors who actually were smart enough to stay home.  Did those folks wander around in the cold dampness picking up firewood, or riding in an open vehicle carrying this wood around? Did they walk out while it was still sprinkling to see if a mother alligator would be visible today? (she wasn't) Did they wade around in the cold water while cutting down wild rice with a hedge trimmer? No. Of course not! THEIR brains weren't frozen!
The picture below right (CORNY CLOSEUP) is an image from a short movie clip which you can see by clicking here. (flv video 512 kb).  Isn't it a beautiful snake? Note. in the very beginning of the clip, how the skin on the snake's underside shifts slightly, out of synch with the movement with the main part of the snake. This is due to the muscles underneath shifting the scales against me, in an effort to pull the snake along. Also note how much of the snake's body surface is being held in contact with mine. This is because I was warmer than the snake, and it was trying to gain some energy from me.  Although they are termed "cold blooded", reptiles actually function most efficiently at internal body temperatures similar to ours. They just don't have a metabolism that allows them to manufacture heat internally.

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                                  HANDY SNAKE                                                           CORNY CLOSEUP 

If you'd like to know more about the park follow these links:

Brazos Bend State Park   The main page.

Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer's Page  The volunteer's main page.
 

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