Is There a Herp in the House?

We have a reader who’d like an ident on this gentlesnake:

Unidentified Apple Purveyor

And another off-topic; but I know this is the place for mystery stuff to get a positive ID!

Any Herpers here? Found this sunning itself, completely oblivious to the killer kittehs prowling about, in my driveway this morning (central Mississippi) About 10-11″ long. Pretty sure it’s Storeria dekayi – DeKay’s Brown Snake – but would like to be sure before I let it chew on my fingers.

I’ve no idea meself. I can identify garter snakes, and rattlesnakes, and if I see it move, I can tell you a sidewinder from a normal slitherer. But this, no. And someone’s fingers are at stake. Also, they go by the handle Comfychair, which is a name to warm the heart of any Doctor Who fan. So, my darlings, can you help?


  1. says

    Looks like a brown snake to me. Keep those cats away from it! It also looks like it’s ready to moult, what with the cloudy-blue eyes.

  2. comfychair says

    The cloudy-eye thing is a combination of the camera flash and a reflection from the inside of the ziploc bag, they don’t look like that currently IRL. He/she is now in a temporary terrarium with sticks & leaves and some mealworms* to chase around, until I can get a proper house for it and some earthworms later today.

    Checking out pics of brown snakes they look to have pretty variable markings & coloring, but they all have the same scale pattern on the head, and the same shaped dark mark under the eye.

    My first thought was, “Copperhead! Fuck’s sake, I just picked up a baby copperhead! Why did I do that! Why am I still holding it! Now I’m taking it inside! Fuck!” But it’s definitely not a baby copperhead, at least according to pictures on the interwebs.

    *I breed the mealworms/beetles as food for my shrew** and flying squirrel, both of whom were brought to me, completely unharmed, as gifts from the aforementioned killer kittehs, lol.

    **VENOMOUS! Venomous mammal! In my backyard! They kill and eat MICE! And the thing’s no bigger than my thumb!

  3. rq says

    But shrews are so cute!
    Also, nice snake; can’t help with the ID, though. All I do is common garden and garter snakes. And adders of the local sort.

  4. Trebuchet says

    And adders of the local sort.

    Who had to use logarithms when Noah told them to go forth and multiply.


    Yet another reason I’m happy to live in the Puget Regions: No venomous snakes.

  5. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Aww, it’s adorable!
    Snakes are absolutely gorgeous little beasties, and I’m lucky to live in the land of Lots of Deadly Ones. Aussies FTW!

    We also have stimson’s and carpet pythons as well as woma and black heads, so it’s not all venom and bitey oucht death in the snake department.

    I have been chased by a tiger snake though, back when I was a kid. That was amusing :P

  6. comfychair says

    Southern short-tailed shrew. Yep, delivered to me by one of the cats.

    Everything about the shrew is extreme – second smallest known mammal, venomous saliva, heart rate of over 1000bpm, eat 1 to 1.5 times their body weight daily, very nearly blind and uses echolocation instead, truly weird prehensile snout for snuffling around underground and in leaf litter looking for food.

    Ah yes, food. They will eat anything. Worms, beetles & beetle larvae, crickets, millipedes, snails, pillbugs, shelled pecans, sunflower seeds, mango & pineapple, bread, dry cat food…

    The echolocation chirp-squeaks are nearly indescribable. The closest I can come to it would be R2-D2 noises played in fast-forward.

    The only thing that might make it inconvenient to keep one for some people is that they need to be able to burrow, and like to go down 15-18″ for their ‘nest’, and it really needs to be dirt and not cedar or pine or aspen shavings. I just throw in all kinds of critters, they live in the soil until the shrew roots around and devours them.

  7. chezjake says

    Most definitely a Dekay’s snake — I’ve known these critters since I was a kid in NH. Didn’t know their range went so far south, but the markings are unmistakeable.