The Vine That Isn’t

There’s so much for you to see outdoors. The one requirement, you have to be there to see it.

~Greg Dodge

As the sun came up Tuesday morning I walked out to the gate at the driveway to listen to the bird songs and have a look around. As I was walking back to the house, something caught my eye. It was one of those things I probably shouldn’t have noticed, but did. Maybe my brain has a map of the area imprinted on it, and when there is something different, even slightly out of place, it notices….who knows.

Something out of place

Something out of place (click photos to enlarge)

Do you see it? I’ll move closer…

Moving closer

Moving closer

If not before, how about now?

Rough Green Snake

Rough Green Snake

Yes, it is a beautiful Rough Green Snake, Opheodrys aestivus. This slender beauty is one of my favorite reptiles. To me, they represent the epitome of graceful snakeiness. They occur throughout most of North Carolina and are one of our more arboreal of snake species, spending most of their time foraging in bushes and low trees.

Rough Green Snake hanging from limb

Is it a vine or a snake?

Their slender bodies, leaf-green color (although their ventral surface is somewhat greenish-yellow), and habits make them a great vine mimic as they slowly move through low branches in search of their favorite foods – caterpillars and other small insects, slugs, and spiders. Typical adult size is from about 18 to 30 inches in length and about the thickness of a child’s little finger. And they have a remarkable ability to extend this slender body over seemingly impossible lengths to get from one branch to another.

Rough Green Snake color

Their color and slender shape allows them to blend in to surrounding vegetation

This particular snake was about 5 feet up in a shrub. I moved around trying to get in a better position for a photo. But every time I took my eyes off of the snake, it would take me a few seconds to find again…true masters of camouflage. But look closely at the color of the keeled scales on this snake in the picture above. See the blue spot?

Blue spots

This specimen had several blue flecks on its scales

This snake had several blue flecks on its scales. Interestingly, this species turns blue when it dies. I have seen a couple of these as unfortunate victims of roadkills, and they turn a striking blue color. I wonder if damaged scales turn blue as well, and if they disappear on the next shed?

Rough Green Snake 2

Observing the observer

Every time I see one of these elegant snakes, I take a few moments to appreciate their remarkable sense of oneness with their environment. This, plus the fact that they are totally harmless to us humans, makes the Rough Green Snake an excellent ambassador for the beauty and importance of snakes.

Rough Green Snake 1

Beauty in a slender form

6 thoughts on “The Vine That Isn’t

  1. Very cool! I love the “observing the observer” photo. I’ve only seen one, but probably have walked past many given their ability to blend in with the environment!

  2. send some my way!!! not enuf green snakes or green tree frogs in my yard!!! boo hoo.. and my long time female bullfrog moved on to bigger ponds!!!

  3. Mike, not long after you posted this blog about the vine that wasn’t, I came across a Rough Green Snake that seemed to be sunning himself or just resting in the middle of a crushed gravel path in the art park at the NC Museum of Art! He was so pretty it was all I could do to keep myself from walking right up to him for a better look.

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