09.19.2022 Ssssssneaky Sssssssnake Sssssss

While stacking some wood I had just split I felt eyes upon me.  When I looked up I saw

Eastern Garter Snake-Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

I’ve been bringing the camera out with me when working in the yard and it came in handy yesterday afternoon.  Previously I had used my phone for a few snake shots but this time around I was thinking more of the spiders that hang out in the wood so had something more substantial.

Actually I did not hear a hissing, which generally is to keep at a distance from what might seem dangerous, and assume the snake really did not feel all that threatened by the camera although at some point it decided to get a taste of my presence.

Snakes have a special organ in their mouth, the Jacobson’s organ, that “smells” by way of chemicals captured from the air with their tongues.  I had to stand there for a patient while until this one got curious enough about me to take a “sniff”. They don’t use their nostrils for smell but to breathe while swallowing a big meal that can take just a bit longer than we do.  Humans don’t breath while eating but obviously a snake can’t wait until swallowing is done so this division of labor works well for them.


About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Amherst, Animal Behavior, Closeup Photography, Fauna, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to 09.19.2022 Ssssssneaky Sssssssnake Sssssss

  1. Taking your camera out to do your yard work was a good idea. I usually only have my phone, which I desperately need to upgrade. You got a perfect photo of its tongue.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. My previous woodpile shots were with the phone and they were okay but this definitely was worth fetching the camera which I had sitting on one of our mini-split units. Sometimes the subjects are still there and sometimes not.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wally Jones says:

    Outstanding! What a beauty!

    We are thankful to the spiders who are responsible for you bringing the camera with you.

    Did he/she react at all to the flash?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Wally! Sometimes I get lucky and there are other insects to shoot like the Dogwood Sawfly larva that was there yesterday also…soon to be here. I should have been expecting the snake but it came as a surprise.

      The flash didn’t seem to get a reaction. Good job spotting the flash catchlight in the usually dark eye.


  3. Littlesundog says:

    Snakes are fairly agreeable posers, and it’s a sure bet to find most any kind of snake in a wood pile! We have the Western Garter snake here, and I like them for bug and small varmint control. You managed some nice angles on these shots. What a great opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lori. Often these guys slip farther into the stacks when they see me but this one was most agreeable allowing me to walk around for the different angles. Yes, snakes are good controls and help to keep things balanced just like some of the predatory bugs. The only unwelcome guests in the yard, really they are the property owners and we are the visitors, are the mosquitoes and ticks.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting post, Steve and terrific shots. Great colour and detail!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beauty. And what wonderful sharp images. We regularly see your snake’s western relative but I haven’t tried to capture its portrait. Maybe I will.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    Great captures, Steve. I imagine it was finding lots to eat in that woodpile.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. shoreacres says:

    Lucky you! I haven’t seen a garter snake for years, but they sure are cute. You got some wonderful shots; I especially like the second.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Linda! Even though they are fairly common in the yard I still get excited when there is an opportunity to photograph one. I was really surprised the snake allowed that second shot. It couldn’t have been more cooperative if I had a handful of tasty crickets as its posing fee.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Your last photo is incredible, Steve!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. eremophila says:

    Great images, although I have an uneasy relationship with snakes, given the highly venomous ones we have in Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tina says:

    These are beautiful photos, Steve! I really like that last one, close-up, tongue out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tina. I’ve been trying to get that shot for a while and this one delivered. It’s a challenge…if you look away or even blink for just a second that’s usually when the tongue flicks. 🙂


  11. bluebrightly says:

    The information is beautifully integrated into the post, Steve, with that last photo. Wonderful! I’m glad you’re so patient.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your mention of spiders made me wonder whether snakes ever eat them. One website confirmed that they do: “As obligate carnivores, snakes do not have any bias against what they eat. Snakes hunt spiders when the snakes are small. It is practical, as small snakes are not capable of taking down large prey.”

    Liked by 1 person

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