Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tangled Up In Blue

High: 62° F
Low: 49° F
Conditions: Continuous drizzle.
This is a snake knot:

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?


sugarcreekstuff said...

I have found a few snakes in knots, they were all dead. I always wondered if the knot was the reason, thanks for the info.

Marigold said...

That naughty snake! He is not supposed to be knotted. I LOVE knots, though goats can not knot worth naught.

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

Are woo the same bloggers that wouldn't look at Sylvia Slug?

My mom says THANK YOU furry much - she's got THAT smile on her face now thinking about THAT song!

PeeEssWoo: Sorry to disappoint woo about the debate, but Mom really wanted me with her to laugh at ONE of the so khalled khandidates!

The Army of Four said...

If Mom could have gotten over the heebie jeebies she got from the snake picture, she might have learned something. She DID like the pix of the knots, though. She's into knots. Snakes, not so much. Hee hee hee!

Kodak the Eskie said...

I didn't know that snakes put themselves in knots! I like this guy's red belly. My mommy says "stay away from that thing!"

Hugs, Kodak

Booker the Treeing Walker said...

Wow that is very weird. Could he even unknot himself? Was there anything that you could do? I imagine you just left nature to her natural order. We haven't seen any snakes lately, but all the rain is bringing out the Bufo toads. They are fat, ugly and very poisonous. Thank goodness Booker has no interest in anything cold-blooded.

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

Not sure what he was up too. Mom has never seen a knotted snake before..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Lorenza said...

That knotted snake sure is fun!
Is he able to un-knot himself?
Kisses and hugs

Eve said...

This was funny in a disturbing sort of way!! I've never seen that snake before! Which is also disturbing for me!! So did he unknot himself or did you have to give him a hand...hahaha!

Maverick the Pirate said...

Harrrrrr Ari
That is one crazy Jump Back Jack Harrrrr.
Cap'n Maverick the Pirate

Southbay Girl said...

once HATES snakes! And is terrified of them!!! I don't think she liked this post!!


umekotyan said...

Good evening Ari.
When how to connect the rope is seen, the boy scouts are recalled. It is necessary to always make nature friends there. However, snake's ecology is surprising thing.
And, money is a thing of circle in the skin of the slough of the snake, and there is a person who puts it in the purse. Please spend the weekend while feeling mysterious manners of Japan. :D

from loved ume tyan

Me and my puppies said...

Ok join the crowd in asking was he able to unknot himself or did you help him? I didn't realize snakes were able to knot themselves. We have lots of pine snakes and I have not seen this before.

JB's Big World said...

That is so strange that that snake was in a knot. I wonder if he ever got out of his predicament?

Laughing Orca Ranch said... a snake pretzel....

I was kind of excited when I first saw the rope chart, as rope tying skills have always fascinated me. Knowing how to tie many different kinds of nots is such an amazingly useful skill.
I always end up feeling like that snake, though, when I try to master the various knots.

Interesting post :)


Country Girl said...

My boy caught a few of those here this Spring along with 30+ others. This old farm is loaded with snakes. I never liked them but I am slowly warming up to them. No choice my boy has a catch and release tank in the shed.

Kathryn and Ari said...

Hi, Friends-
A few of you asked about the welfare of our knotted snake friend. Unfortunately, he had already died by the time we found him. The resolution of the picture isn't great, but if you look closely you can see the large puncture wound on his side, which we're guessing led to his demise. Rest assured, he received a noble burial in our pine grove.

Kapp pack said...


Butt wiggles, Meadow

John Theberge said...

I've picked up these snakes before and just like picking up a garter, my hands reaked from the musk.

Kathiesbirds said...

...And this is a funny post!

Your theory sounds reasonable to me!

Amici said...

Ewww snakes. I think they are interesting but my human doesn't. She admits that it is a nice colored snake though.