Walking down my road on an early June afternoon several years ago, I spotted a snake attempting to cross into the underbrush. Covered in colorful splotches, it quickly slithered across the pavement and out of sight. I knew this wasn’t a gartersnake, a familiar visitor to my garden, and later identified the reptile as a milksnake. This was my first encounter with the species, and while I spotted another milk snake two years later, I might be hard-pressed to see one again. Milksnakes are secretive and largely nocturnal. [Read more…] about The Eastern Milksnake: A Primer
In any shallow, muddy-bottom body of water in spring, when the sun is shinning or a southerly breeze has elevated the temperature into the 50s or 60s, the painted turtle may be seen lounging peacefully, often in the company of others of its species. [Read more…] about Basking Painted Turtles
The Northeast is home to dozens of species of mammals, hundreds of varieties of birds, and tens of thousands of different insects, but few lizards. This is the story of the five-lined skink.
Though I am fond of reptiles and often seek them out, I have never seen a skink. Unless you’re lucky, determined, or a rock climber – or some combination of the three – I’m betting you haven’t either, at least not in our neck of the woods. [Read more…] about New York Lizards: The Five-Lined Skink
The yellow stripe down the center of its dark back and two yellow stripes along its sides identified it as a garter snake, our most common snake, found around rock piles, under logs, or – sometimes – even inside a house. [Read more…] about Garter Snakes: A Primer On Surprise Guests
This time of year many people are seeing snapping turtles digging in their yards or swimming in home ponds. Snapping turtles and other turtles make their nests in easily dug soil, so they may lay their eggs in backyards and gardens.
Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) are often described as aggressive, but a better term is defensive. They try to avoid confrontation and are more likely to defend themselves on dry land.
Before the mid-eighteenth century, turtles were largely untried as edibles in North America. For considerable time, the turtle was assumed to be poisonous. An infernal creature, a “resident of hell,” it should not be cultivated for food.
But attitudes changed. By the mid-nineteenth century, civic banquets would inevitably offer turtle on the menu. [Read more…] about When Eating Turtle Was All The Rage