In our first ten years here, we had only three sightings of these, and it wasn’t until the third sighting (in April 2016) that I had a camera with me. This snake announced its presence in an audible manner. I paused, looked around, and saw a patterned brown snake emerging from the vegetation where I had heard the rattling sound. From about 10 feet away, I strained my eyes to look at the tail. Then it puffed up its head, conjuring up a menacing cobra. Oh, relief: a Hognose Snake. I hollered to get Eric’s attention, and we enjoyed watching it for a few minutes. After its initial bluff didn’t scare us away, it shape-shifted its head to a triangular form, more reminiscent of the rattlesnake that I had initially feared. It even moved in a sidewinder fashion, a master impressionist. The one trick we didn’t get it to do was to play dead. The round pupil is absolute confirmation that this one was nonpoisonous. Certainly a really fascinating creature to have around, though they are predators of toads, and we like to have high populations of toads–which we’ve confirmed through observation to be predators of squash bugs.
Although I don’t have a photo to prove it, we saw an Osage Copperhead on June 22, 2015 in the growing area south of the house. This is the only definite sighting on the farm since we’ve been here, though I briefly saw a snake with copperhead-like patterning in the same general area near dusk on a summer evening in 2014.
Perhaps our most commonly encountered snake, Midland Browns are often present in the mulched beds of our produce growing areas.
This is a snake we really appreciate having around, as Prairie Kingsnakes eat rodents, and we often see them hunting in rodent burrows in the vegetable fields.
An uncommonly encountered species at Chert Hollow Farm. I found this one on the forest floor while raking leaves for mulch in March 2007.
Not a species that we frequently observe, but we found this specimen in June 2009:
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.
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).
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.
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.