Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Blue Snake



The first time my husband and I saw a blue snake, it took us forever to figure out what it was.

"There's no picture in this book of a blue snake. Argh!"

"The internet shows no blue snakes in Alabama. Arrrgh!"

"There's no such thing as a blue snake. Arrrrrrrgh!"

Only by reading the fine print did we realize that the Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) turns blue after death.

The Smooth Green Snake (Opheodrys [Liochlorophis] vernalis) does the same thing, but they're a more northerly or westerly snake and are not in Alabama.

The snake's green color is made up of blue and yellow pigments in its skin. When it dies, the yellow fades more quickly, so the snake looks blue.

This one looks like he had a little run-in with the postal service. They've also been known to come out on the wrong end of duels with lawnmowers.

(And talk about holding your breath until you turn blue!)

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This site sugguests that the snakes can also turn blue when excited.

Here's another cool pic of the snakes.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Jude said...

Call me suspicious, but how can we be sure that this snake is not a close relative of Pablo's blue-tailed skink?

Rurality said...

Ha! I thought about that when I posted this. I could probably still go scoop it up and mail it to you for verification, but that might not go over well with your mail person. :)

It's really real! It does look a little plastic though, huh?

Floridacracker said...

Dead green snakes always make me a little blue...

I have a neat live green snake shot that I need to post on Pure Florida, maybe tomorrow.

I did not know about the blue postmortem condition, thanks for the new knowledge.

pablo said...

I've seen a smooth green snake at my woods once. It was in the green of a cedar tree, but its movement gave it away. That and a sleeping copperhead under a woodpile are the only snakes I have ever seen in our forest. That seems surprising when I think about it.

swamp4me said...

They'll also turn blue at the site of an injury.

One old wives' tale in these parts is that green snakes are baby rat snakes. So where'd that one come from? Your guess is as good as mine!

thingfish23 said...

It's a shame to see one mushed. Besides indigo snakes, green snakes are my favorites.

Ditto what FC said about the "turning blue" thing. Interesting.

Colleen said...

How interesting. I didn't know that those pretty little greenies turned blue when they died. You learn something new every day.

Amy Stewart said...

I just discovered your blog and I love it! Snakes, county fair, and old b&w photos. Looking forward to more!

Ontario Wanderer said...

I've seen very few green snakes in my wanderings and never a blue one. Thanks for sharing. I'll be more on the lookout now. The Michigan animal site is a good resource too but slow to load with my dial up. sigh!

bobo said...

i hate snakes

Debbie said...

I live in Northwest Alabama near the Tennessee state line. My hubby accidently ran over a snake with the lawn mower on Saturday. It was blue *or turned blue*. I took a picture of it. We've been trying to figure out what it is. I found a site about blue racers that looked like it and then my husband found this site. So, which is it? Very confused neighbor! :)

Rurality said...

Hi Debbie, I don't think the Blue Racers are in Alabama. Must have been the rough green snake!

Anonymous said...

I was in the Mtns of East Tennesee and saw a very small blue snake with diamonds outline in bright yellow. The baby was alive, had a small flat head. There were segments or lines on it's tail, such as you would see with an earthworm? A new species, you think?

Chris said...

Dear Anonymous, I have the same small blue snake in my yard right now- in Florida. Very cute, pretty darn fast. I found this blog looking to find out what it is.

conservativealex said...

Anonymous, I too saw a very similar blue snake with diamonds outline in bright yellow. This, was in NC mountains near TN border. Specifically near the Cane River.

BirdgirlofSpringville said...

The Indigo snake lives in Alabama. If you think you have one, please call your local Extension office. They are on the endangered speices list, and need to be observed by experts. Call as soon as possible. There is a picture under a site, that escapes me for the moment, for workers, forestry maybe, in Alabama.

Britta said...

I see you are a photography buff. Great pics on your Blog header!!

sly said...

I ran over a snake today in my driveway. When i came back home I got out to look at it. it was a pretty light blue color with a cute pattern. it was dead but had been dead for only a few mins. I know snakes quite well and catch and release them all the time. this is the first blue snake i have ever seen. i am in NC.

The Lunge said...

conservativealex:

Trombone.

mj said...

this is true, I was in Eastern TN this past weekend, while out walking we came across a small dead blue snake! We were all three amazed by it. Thanks for your research!

Esther said...

Thanks! This was a huge help as we had the exact same mystery.