We met a strange neighbor in our woods yesterday – a Dekay’s Brown Snake with a personality disorder. These snakes, also known as Northern Brown Snakes, are nonpoisonous, usually docile, and often don’t seem to mind when you pick them up. They’re considered to be good examples for children to learn about reptiles.
But, not this cantankerous, foot-long fellow. (Sex assumed.) He was sunning on the trail and, instead of trying to sneak off as we approached, he decided to stay where he was and deliver bluff strikes at us without opening his mouth. “This is my spot; don’t tread on me!” seemed to be his message.
Brown Snakes are known from the central coast of Maine south, but are listed as of Special Concern by the State due to few reported sightings. They often go unseen due to their size and shyness (usually). They’re easily distibguishable from our commonest snakes, Garfer Snakes, which are larger and have more distinctive dorsum (top half) stripes:
Brown Snakes eat things like slugs, earthworms, small insects, minnows, and the tiniest toads and frogs. On the other hand, these snakes are a favorite snack for larger snakes (especially milk snakes) and some birds (especially broad-winged hawks).
It’s tough out there. And, as in our world, having an attitude usually doesn’t help. (Brooklin, Maine)