Happy World Snake Day!

by Greg Mayer

Jerry noted this morning that it’s World Snake Day, but I thought I’d add to the festivities by sharing a couple of photos of my Ball Python (Python regius), Vivian.

Vivian, a Ball Python, Python regius, 16 July 2020.

I lifted Vivian’s hide box to take the photo, and she was mildly perturbed, so she defensively hid her head in her coils.

Vivian, a Ball Python, Python regius, hiding her head, 16 July 2020. Note the tiny  hind leg (“spur”) visible at the base of her tail.

The Department of Defense Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has sent out a great set of links for World Snake Day, put together by my friend and colleague Rob Lovich. There’s loads of stuff in these links– look around. I’ve brought to the top of the list a shutterfly album of a great diversity of snakes. If you don’t have time for more, open up that album click on the slideshow, and enjoy! (It works best if you have dual monitors, one to work one, and one for snake pix.)

Here’s the album: Shutterfly Snake Pictures (over 800 pictures). From DoD Parc:

Tomorrow [i.e. today] (July 16th) is World Snake Day! In celebration of this event and the important ecological value snakes play in the ecosystems of military lands, we would like to highlight some snake-focused DoD Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (DoD PARC) products below.

We hope you enjoy learning about snakes through the various DoD PARC products below.

Snake Pictures, ID cards and Podcast:

YouTube Videos

Posters

Fact Sheets

Reports

Snake Guides

DOD PARC Logo

The Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) was chosen on our logo to reflect the long-standing relationship DoD and the Military Services have with protecting both our nation and its resources, including snakes. Ultimately, the use of this species is meant to represent how DoD protects the natural resources with which it has been entrusted, and how those resources in turn provide for and protect the military’s ability to prepare for its war-fighting and peace-keeping duties.

If you’re wondering why the military has a unit devoted to amphibians and reptiles, the military must follow environmental and conservation laws (unless specifically exempted); there are practical issues for the military involving venomous reptiles; and recall that Darwin traveled around the world largely by courtesy of the Royal Navy. The U.S. Navy published, with the assistance of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, the classic Poisonous Snakes of the World:

If you want to learn more about snakes, I recommend, as I have before, Harry Greene‘s Snakes: the Evolution of Mystery in Nature as a good, well-illustrated, introduction to their natural history and diversity


Greene, H.W. 1997. Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Minton, S.A., H.G. Dowling & F.E. Russell. 1965. Poisonous Snakes of the World: A Manual for Use by U.S. Amphibious Forces. NAVMED P-5099. Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C.

h/t: Caroline

17 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Interesting!

  2. Glenda Palmer
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Vivian is beautiful. A shame snakes started getting such undeserved bad press a few thousand years ago.

    Ever since I had two little boys I have been an admirer of snakes. Of course as you learn, respect and admire – you lose fear. The boys grew up to be protective of all animals even though they have never owned anything other than cats.

  3. Laurance
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    HOORAY!!! HOORAY!! (I love snakes.)

    Somehow it had slipped my mind that there is a World Snake Day. I forgot to put it on my calendar.

    And how lovely to see someone’s pretty Ball Python. I have two Ball Pythons myself. Julius Squeezer is my girl. She’s 27. My guy is Stimpy (and I didn’t give him that name).

    Now, you thought rabbits laid Easter eggs, didn’t you…

    Wrong! It’s the Easter Snake! Back in 2000 I came downstairs on Saturday morning and found that Julius had laid five eggs, just in time for Easter the next day.

    • Paul Matthews
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Julius Squeezer is a girl?

      • Laurance
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Yes, Julius Squeezer is a beautiful girl. No point in telling a long story, but I first met her when she was a little wiggle-worm living in Stimpy’s vivarium. I was enchanted with that tiny exquisite snake.

        She’d been dumped by the idiot who bought her from a pet store and then didn’t know what to do, so he dumped her on Stimpy’s owner. He said he’d come back and get the snake, but…

        Time passed and I named “him” Julius Squeezer. Stimpy’s owner wanted to call “him” “Ren”. But Julius was the name that stuck.

        The owner never came to take the snake back, so I adopted “him”. I found a Cornell student who was a herpetologist, and he sexed Julius for me. “Most likely female.” So Julius is “she”. (You can tell when a Ball Python is a guy, but you can’t be 100% sure with a girl. Gotta check a couple of times to be sure.)

        Stimpy’s owner was going to move to California, camping all the way and couldn’t take Stimpy with. So I adopted Stimpy – his owner didn’t want some irresponsible idiot adopting him.

        I took the snakes for a Well Snake Checkup to the Cornell Vet School. Stimpy is a guy, and Julius being female was diagnosed once again. I knew for sure when she got pregnant (another story, and Stimpy was not the father) and became the Easter Snake.

  4. rickflick
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I was a great snake lover as a child. I prided myself in keeping a few garter snakes I’d capture in the local fields. Part of their charm is how they glide effortlessly over the turf with no visible means of support. Then there’s that surprising forked tongue that zips out at you.

  5. Frank
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    My understanding is that the spur is a vestigial hind limb that is obviously not used for locomotion, but does have a function. Males in some pythons and boas have somewhat longer spurs than females do, and they use them to anchor themselves during mating. No?

  6. Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Hhhhappy Sssssnake day.

    Interestingly, there is a mutation that causes snakes to be scale-less. It is known in several species, and they seem to get by pretty well. Information is on the internet.

  7. Blue
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    ¡ Ms Vivian is d a r l i n g, Dr Mayer !
    Thank you for ALL of this serpentine information !
    ¡ F A S C I N A T I N G L Y immense !

    Our Eastern Florida Kingsnake is long, long
    gone; but its staff, my middle son then, liking
    his things Latinized when named, insisted that
    the she – snake that she was be named Rex
    ( and NOT Regina ) for … … the ‘ king ‘ within
    her species’ nomenclature.

    We loved Rex. I had to make certain, however,
    that her groceries, when purchased at the
    local pet shop, were trippple – bagged and
    trippple – stapled and that I drove the mice
    straight home to Rex’s aquarium. I could NOT
    have them chewing through and, thus, loosed
    within my pickup cab !

    Blue

  8. Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    ‘Poisonous snakes of the world’?
    Is there a companion volume – ‘Venomous snakes of the world’ – advising members of the military which snakes can bite and kill as opposed to those that have the potential kill when bitten (and swallowed)?

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      The book’s a classic, but from 1965, and thus not up to date. I was going to mention the change in conventional use of ‘poisonous’ vs. ‘venomous’; notice that all the links for the current Navy websites and literature all use ‘venomous’.

      GCM

  9. Mark R.
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Vivian is a striking snake; thanks for sharing her photo.
    Interesting connection of venomous snakes and the military. Makes sense since the military goes to every corner on earth.

  10. Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Great photos of a striking creature. Still, snakes creep me out, so I shall stop here.

  11. Posted July 16, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    US military bases are often the last bits of wild habitat in the their areas. I used to do EIS work on Fort Hood, which has some of the best endangered Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat in the US. The vireo requires successional vegetation that grows after a fire. In all non-military parts of Texas, fires are not welcome. But in Fort Hood bombs and artillery are always making nice fires, so the bird survives there.

    There was even a disjunct population of a rare recently discovered species of fancy Croton shrub growing there (Croton alabamensis). Great place! And the military were very cooperative.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      If our culture can’t do it through care and concern, but the military can by building bird sanctuaries from of weapons testing…I’ll take it anyway.


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  1. […] was skimming Why Evolution Is True on Thursday night just before midnight, when I discovered that July 16th (that very day, for ten more minutes,) was World Snake Day. Not a lot of point in […]

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