A Roughed Up Red Rat Snake, 10 November 2018

Pantherophis guttatus, the Red rat (corn) snake;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (10 November 2018).

An unfortunate and sadly unavoidable byproduct of spending so much time looking for snakes while trolling Florida’s roadways after the sun sets is that you inevitably come across snake after snake that’s suffered at the hands (or wheels) of humanity. Such was the case with the beautiful Red rat snake, Pantherophis guttatus, also known commonly as the Corn snake.

I found this young corn resting cluelessly at the edge of a roadway a few hours after sunset. It had clearly suffered some sort of trauma to the head, but it was still alive and still somewhat alert. It’s jaw structure was quite brutalized, however, so I’m not sure if it recovered. Perhaps. Snakes can be remarkably resilient, but this one seemed rather out of it. Further, while its right eye was intact, its left eye had also been damaged quite a bit and was clearly no longer functional (I skipped that photograph). If I had to hazard a guess, perhaps it was clipped by the edge of a car or smacked by a motorcycle; I saw many roadkills on this same road (and others) throughout the evening.

I usually don’t photograph injured or maimed snakes —at least not when they were likely tanked out by a vehicle–, but it’s good to note and remember that our roadways are shared by more than other drivers. It’s good to remember to slow down and share the roadway — especially after the sun sets to the west of Florida, when so many organisms are drawn to our darkened roadways.

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