Prairie Ring-necked Snake

One of my favorite snakes, the Prairie Ring-necked Snake has a beautifully patterned belly. I found this specimen hanging out with a companion in the seeding room of the house under a bin of leaf mold, a situation that I decided was not in the snakes’ best interest given that we have a house cat that likes playing with small animals. Thus, I took them outside, took some photos, and released them in a nicely mulched area.

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Rough Green Snake

Rough Green Snakes are present at Chert Hollow Farm but not commonly sighted; they are primarily an Ozark snake and thus we’re toward the northern limit of their range. From 2006 to 2012 we had only 3 observations: one near the vegetable field gate, one seen through binoculars in the talons of a Broad-Winged Hawk, and the one photographed below, which I found on the patio of the house in early October of 2012:

We don’t know whether the infrequent sightings reflects a low population or good camouflage with green vegetation. I almost overlooked even this individual, which stood out like a sore thumb against the concrete backdrop, because my initial impression was that it was a green onion top (& I took a closer look trying to figure out why in the world there was a green onion top on the patio).

Black Rat Snake

Normally, we consider Black Rat Snakes to be beneficial critters around the farm; they generally provide very valuable rodent control. The above specimen, however, took up residence in the chicken house, ate lots of eggs, and killed an adult broody hen, as described here.

In late August 2011, I found a collection of Black Rat Snake eggs in an old straw pile under some cedar trees. A couple of young dispersed from the area at the time that I initially found the nest, but not all of the eggs had yet hatched. We checked the nest again a couple of times, and found this one poking its head out of the egg in the early evening of August 29.

Western Painted Turtle

We’ve had two observations of the Western Painted Turtle at Chert Hollow Farm between 2007 & 2012, both times near the house, and both times moving fast. Their primary habitat tends to be aquatic, so the ones we’ve seen are probably just passing through. They certainly seemed in a hurry to get somewhere else, and aren’t at all shy.

Western Earth Snake

As of 2012, we have one recorded observation of this snake on the farm. Our indoor cat somehow found this one; we promptly took it away from her, photographed it, and released it outdoors. From the MDC description:

This nondescript little snake is a woodland species and usually remains hidden under rocks or logs or in leaf litter….It feeds chiefly on earthworms.