Bartram’s Snakes: Beth’s Travels on the Bartram Trail 57

While William tasted of the rattlesnake he killed, he did not swallow it….

Indigo Coils

Indigo Coils by Beth Thompson

It’s now illegal to kill snakes in Georgia, with the exception of snakes found near highly inhabited areas AND poisonous. Most are not poisonous. Only the copperhead and rattlesnake are poisonous and in the southern portions of Georgia the moccasin can also be found. That leaves a variety of non-poisonous snakes to be left alone.

Snake Gate by Beth Thompson

Snake Gate by Beth Thompson

Such as my gate-snake, a grey rat snake. He showed up one afternoon while I was working on the artwork for this post. I went out in the afternoon, and was walking back into the house when I saw him, just before I opened the gate. My first response was to scream. My second was to go the the front door, deposit my purchases, and grab my camera.

Grey Rat Snake on Fence Post by Beth Thompson

Grey Rat Snake on Fence Post by Beth Thompson

I could tell by his round pupil he wasn’t poisonous, unlike the vertical pupil of this copperhead at Chehaw Zoo in Albany….

Copperhead at Chehaw Zoo, Albany GA by Beth Thompson

Copperhead at Chehaw Zoo, Albany GA by Beth Thompson

I confused the copperhead with this nonpoisonous water snake when I was out photographing at the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia. He is “wound round” with a brown stripe…

Creek Snake at Botanical Gardens, Athens GA, by Beth Thompson

Creek Snake at Botanical Gardens, Athens GA, by Beth Thompson

So what happens if you kill your friendly, household rat snake? Well, you just might get rats, or their country cousins, field mice, in your home. So if you see a rat snake hanging about your habitat, you may be better off both legally and otherwise to let your gate-snake be.

Grey Rat Snake Tongue by Beth Thompson

Grey Rat Snake Tongue by Beth Thompson

Bartram’s remarks on snakes have had a far reach. I found mention that he influenced Coleridge once again in the poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

~Samuel T. Coleridge

Indigo Snake by Beth Thompson

Indigo Snake by Beth Thompson

I for one, am a child of the ’80’s and the song I like to think might just have been inspired by Bartram’ Travels and then Samuel Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner is The Cure’s hit, Wrong Number. Although it is said to be inspired by 80’s fashions…

Bartram’s Snakes are definitely described as lime green, and the corn snake qualifies as tangerine.

Corn Snake Coils by Beth Thompson

Corn Snake Coils by Beth Thompson

I spent a morning driving in to Bear Hollow, the rescue zoo at Memorial Park in Athens Georgia. There Jennifer Kvapil, Program Specialist, kindly opened up the enclosure of Georgia’s most rare and endangered snake, the Indigo Snake. Seeing another Indigo Snake in the reflection on the big mirror that was the glass in my lens, she maneuvered to strike.

The Indigo Snake prepares to strike by Beth Thompson

The Indigo Snake Prepares to Strike by Beth Thompson

Another inhabitant of the long-leaf pine forests and dependent on the gopher tortoise burrows, the Indigo Snake is a top predator I learned from Jenny. They even devour rattlesnakes. The Indigo at Bear Hollow was born in captivity, and wasn’t raised to live in the wild.

Striking Indigo Snake: Possible Perception Series by Beth Thompson

Striking Indigo Snake: Possible Perception Series by Beth Thompson

If you wish to support the conservation of reptiles and amphibians such as the gopher tortoise and indigo snake, click here for the Orianne Society, headquartered in Georgia.

Lead-in for Bartram’s Snakes Recording from The Slacks by Trip Shakespeare.

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