Monday, May 25, 2009

A Surprise Visitor: Orange, Black and White Mystery Snake, perhaps the "Coastal Plain" Milk Snake Integrade

My nine year-old son spotted this small, handsome snake hiding next to the brunnera in the Front Border. I've never even seen a snake in my garden before, and this one was quite a sight: prominent orange spots outlined in black on a white background.
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According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's website on snakes, it looks like either (i) the "Coastal Plain" Milk Snake integrade, which is a rare cross between the Eastern Milksnake and the Scarlet Kingsnake, (ii) the Scarlet Kingsnake, or the (iii) Northern Scarlet Snake. According to the website, none of them live in Morris County, but then my identification may be off. It looked like a baby, a little thicker than a pencil and no more than one foot long. If there are any ophiophiles out there who can identify it, let me know.

8 comments:

Faith said...

He's pretty!

~Faith

Janet said...

Very colorful. Most of the snakes I see around here are black snakes.

Robin Sallie said...

This looks like someone's escaped pet snake. The cross is bred for pet stores.

Dirt Princess said...

That gives me the heeby geebies!

Randy Emmitt said...

Likely it is a Scarlet Snake, Cemophora coccinea see http://www.herpsofnc.org/herps_of_NC/snakes/Cemcoc/Cem_coc.html

We had a water snake of some sort the other day and a Brown Snake, Storeria dekayi here too.

heirloomgardener said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
heirloomgardener said...

Randy,

Thank you!

-Heirloom Gardener

d4v34x said...

I disagree. That indeed is a milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum). It might be a regular eastern milk snake or an intergrad (Coastal plains). But definitely not a Scarlet Snake.

By your size description, my guess is it hatched just this summer.

Beautiful and harmless little snakes, they eat other snakes (they are a member of the kingsnake family) and then mice when they grow older.

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