This past weekend, I jaunted up to Gainesville for a quick romp around the swamp. I wanted to pick up some Swamp Head Brewery goodness, visit with some old friends, and, of course, try to find a few snakes to photograph. As is often the case, Alachua county did not disappoint. The day’s reptilian offerings may not have been the most dramatic or rare, but, hey, a snake’s a snake — and they all make me happy.
Featured here is the first of two Peninsula ribbon snakes (Thamnophis sauritus sackenii) we found and photographed on Saturday. Slim, elegant, and a bit wiry, the Peninsula ribbon snake is commonly found near the edges of ponds, lakes, and even creeks — especially when there’s decent foliage clustered alongside the shoreline.
If you’re unsure how to differentiate the Peninsula ribbon snake from its close relative, the Eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis), look for a well-defined white bar in front of each eye. If you see a vertical, white bar just in front of each eye, odds are you’re looking at a Peninsula ribbon snake. Garters can have white (or lighter) tones in front of each eye too, but they’re usually not as well defined. With ribbons, that bar is usually pretty sharp — as you can see in these photographs.