A few days ago when I was out at my clothesline I glanced over at the garden and saw a really long snake skin. My first thought was that it once belonged to a rat snake.
I brought the skin in the house and got my book and started counting scales and such. It’s not the easiest thing to do, identify a snake when the owner of the skin isn’t there any more. It would help if I could see colors, however, a bit of pattern is visible, even on the scales. This one is solid with no markings at all. By the way, did you know snakes have scales over their eyes? They need those scales because they don’t have eyelids. This skin was totally intact, ocular scales and all.
Keeled scales have a little ridge on the middle of them. The scales on this critter are smooth and not keeled. He has 17 rows of dorsal scales in the middle of the body, with 15 just in front of the vent. (The vent is a scale that looks different on his underside. It’s where the digestive system ends. And, I have no idea whether this is a boy or a girl snake. I’m just going with the all-inclusive “he”.) He has a divided anal plate, with the scales going from the plate to the end of the tail being divided. If all the scales from the anal plate to the tip of the tail are divided, it’s a non-poisonous snake.
This rascal was 44 1/2 inches long when he left this skin behind in my garden. What a gift for me to find! Oh, my very best guess, according to all my counting of scales and such, and I think I’m right, is that he is a tan racer. We do have them here and they will even crossbreed with the buttermilk racer. I actually skinned one that crossed. The poor thing was dead in my street, with just a tiny indention on his small noggin. Other than the dent in his head and being dead, the skin was in perfect condition.
I happen to like snakes and I like them to be alive and living in the wild. They certainly serve a good purpose, eating things like rats which carry diseases.
I took a few photos. The skin showed up better in the grass so I laid it out there for a photo.
Then I set it up by my tea cups. It’s still there. I don’t know how long I’ll leave it as part of my decor. Folks just never know what they will see when they walk into my house. Don’t you think it looks nice there? I like the contrast between cultured and wild, myself.