Naming Nature

I wonder what it would be like to go into a forest where nothing had name. How would we act in a forest if there were no names for anything smaller than an ecosystem? How could we walk, if there were no way to talk about anything larger than a cell?

~Kathleen Dean Moore

When I am trying to get people excited about the natural world, I like to help them find identities for the things we observe. To name something is to know it a bit better. To know it is to open the door for wondering about it, and, hopefully, caring about it. So, today we will try to learn the name of something Melissa found in our yard a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps you have seen one of these small snakes, or something similar, in your own yard. I want you to use your observation skills and see if you can identify this creature by either using one of your own field guides or looking it up online. Here are a couple of useful links that may help (Reptiles and Amphibians of NC and the Virginia Herpetological Society). Be sure to zoom in on the photos and take a closer look. The answer and more information tomorrow. You herp people out there, hold your answers until tomorrow.

red-bellied snake

Small snake Melissa spotted in our yard (click photos to enlarge)

red-bellied snake belly

If you look underneath, some color is revealed

And now for another mystery…I saw this earlier this week in our yard…what is it?

mystery skin

Mystery item – answer tomorrow


9 thoughts on “Naming Nature

  1. Now snakes — something I can get into. I’ve never understood people’s fear of snakes. Not saying I would sleep with them, but I’m glad to find them around air property — though the dogs aren’t. Even the copperheads are not offensive — just leave them alone. With all the close encounters I’ve had with them (like a foot from my face after accidentally throwing a downed tree branch at it), I’ve never seen one that was aggressive.

  2. I’m thinking the snake is a redbellied watersnake, but it does say that in the label of the photo. The mystery? My guess is a skin from the eastern ribbon snake.

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