On a recent visit to the Fern Glen I spotted a medium-sized northern water snake basking in the sun on a log near the shore of the pond.
According to the UMass natural resource website, “Water snakes can almost always be counted on to bite, defecate and spray a particularly foul-smelling musk when handled.”
It was really tough to get close enough to get a decent photo without spooking the snake away, so I had to make do with the 60mm I was using at the time. I startled it several times, causing it to shoot into the water, I had to crouch and wait for a while before he was comfortable enough to get back on the log where I could take a photo.
They have a very dark pattern of red-brown and black cross-bands and “blotches” down the body, making for a subtle beauty, but excellent camouflage for living along the edges of water bodies.
On a much different note…… Two months ago I had the interesting chance to taste northern water snake. A friend was told of a water snake that was just hit on a nearby road, and instead of letting it rot on the road, he picked it up, skinned it and cooked it (see photo below before it was prepared).
As you might be able to tell, it was much larger than the individual I photographed in the Fern Glen. If you are wondering, it had a chewy texture with a very mellow taste, difficult to describe or compare with any other meat I’ve had. They are a protected species in NY, and are illegal to hunt. I hope you get the chance to see a living northern water snake, they are beautiful!