High: 62° FThis is a snake knot:
Low: 49° F
Conditions: Continuous drizzle.
This is a knotted snake:
We’re all a little tied up, kinked up, and wound up over the pervasive rainfall this week, but we think that this guy is taking that sentiment a little too seriously.
Our knotted friend is a Northern Red-Bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata), a small snake found throughout the northeast. They’re partial to mucky, damp places like marshes, bogs, and floodplains. Normally that wouldn’t include our driveway, but this week is something different entirely. These days, muck and damp is pretty much omnipresent at caninaturalist central.
Those conditions might explain why this guy was in our driveway, but it still doesn’t explain how he came to be so knotted. One reigning scientific theory about knotted snakes is that they contort themselves in this way to help with the shedding process. But this guy doesn’t seem to be ready to throw off his epidermis.
Another theory is that snakes, when prodded in one area, contort and tangle as their very long nervous system tries to make sense of the stimuli. That seems like a pretty good theory for this particular specimen, particularly since there’s a puncture wound in his side.
Red-bellied snakes have some unusual defensive mechanisms: they raise their front lips and snarl at potential predators (not unlike a few dogs we know!). They also release a musky (read: rank) odor when threatened or vulnerable. That makes us wonder if maybe this guy was under assault, perhaps by one of our local foxes or coyotes, and gave a particularly impressive show of snarl and stink, causing him to be dropped, unceremoniously, in our drive, where he short-circuited and ended up as his own version of the snake knot. What do you think?