August 30, 2016.
Here’s the gorgeous Eastern Hognose (Heterodon platirhinos) snake Devin Floyd found last week about 50 yards south of the Visitor Center. Hognose snakes can appear in a wide range of colors; some are even solid black. (This one is unusually vivid; we hope it procreates lots of children.) The hognose’s distinguishing features are an upturned snout—and dramatic behavior: Threatened, it flattens its head and makes to strike like a cobra. Threatened more, it rolls over and plays dead, even to lolling its tongue and emitting a foul dead-smell. It rarely bites and is completely harmless.
During last summer’s survey of biota, near the Giant’s Stairs, Devin and Rachel Bush found the first Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis) reported in Nelson County (seen here with Rachel looking nonplussed). These also are benign.
…as is the little Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatis). Armand and I found one along the Quarry circling road last summer, and the Virginia Herpetological Society searchers found this one on their visit in June.
Not pictured are the Eaatern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) that greeted Monticello gardeners along the trail by the big reindeer lichen colony when they visited in late March, and the Northern Black Racer (Colubar constrictor constrictor) that briefly challenged Armand on the steps next to the Talus later in the spring.
Here’s a Ratsnake that Rachel found by the Visitor Center exit last September; the blue eye and dull gray color mean it’s about to shed its skin.