Top Photo: Juvenile northern, or DeKay’s, brown snake.
Brown snakes are common here at the museum. They can be seen in any month of the year but are most frequently observed in late winter to early spring. They’re most often seen crossing the open pavement from one favored habitat to another, forest floor or grassy areas. It’s not uncommon to see one hanging from the talons or bill of a red-shouldered hawk during that period when the hawk’s nesting is underway.
They’ve been popping up recently at different locations on the outdoor loop trail, in the form of juveniles, in Hideaway Woods, Catch the Wind, and Explore the Wild. The juveniles are about 4 inches long at birth, are dark brown to almost black, and have a light colored tan or yellowish band just behind the head. The band will fade by the snake’s first year.
These gentle snakes mostly eat earthworms and slugs, but also snails, insects, small treefrogs and fish. The adults max-out at about a foot in length but may reach 20 inches.
Keep an open eye for the juvenile snakes as you make your way around the outdoor exhibits, they can be easily overlooked. Both adults and juveniles are completely harmless.