As much as I enjoy Dino Days (July 16-17) and sifting through tons of dusty, gray, ocean-bottom sediment for fossils, I have to say that the highlight of Dino Days (at least day one, Saturday) was watching a Rough Green Snake eat a dragonfly in a willow tree just off the Wetlands Overlook in Explore the Wild.
It was near the end of the day, hot and tired. Ranger Kristin and I were watching for frogs from the side of the Wetlands Overlook. I didn’t have my camera strapped to me as is usual because, well, it was the end of the day and I was dog-tired. I had already stowed it in my pack.
Kristin suddenly yelled out, “Rough Green Snake, it’s got a dragonfly!” among other excited remarks.
I ran to get the camera. By the time I got back with camera in hand the dragonfly was halfway down the snake’s gullet, but I did get enough photos to make it worth the effort of running for the camera.
Slaty Skimmers appear to be taking a hit here at the Museum (see Cyrano).
Some of the Museum guests, who had been alerted by my quick dash to retrieve the camera (as quick a dash as I’m able to make these days) came over and enjoyed the snake’s activities, all very excited at seeing the drama unfold before them.
Typically, I only run into a Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) once a year. Their excellent camouflage and slow deliberate movements make them difficult to spot. Still, I had seen one a week earlier about fifty some yards away, just around the bend in the path running through Explore the Wild.
I hadn’t been the first to spot last week’s green snake either. It was William, an alert Summer Camper in Wayne and Hannah’s group of happy outdoor campers, that first spied the little green gem in a blackberry bramble. I tried to catch the snake but its slender body slipped from my careless fingers. The snake quickly disappeared into the dense, green mass of vegetation.
No more than ten minutes after first being spotted catching the dragonfly, the snake was off into the willows.
It’s always a pleasure to see a green snake and it’s always a purely serendipitous encounter.
Twice in in the same month! What luck.
What other creatures lurk in among the willows of the Wetlands?
Why do they call them Rough Green Snakes?
The diagram below showing snake body segments may help to explain.
Because this snake has keels on its scales it’s called a Rough Green Snake. There is a similar green snake that has smooth scales, no keels, that is called a Smooth Green Snake. The Smooth Green Snake lives further north and, possibly, in the mountains of North Carolina.