Herpetofauna: One Life's List

Storeria dekayi wrightorum
Midland Brown Snake

St. Louis Co., Missouri
Spring 1972

See this snake and the date!  This is the little serpent that started me on a life-long journey.  Our back yard was full of them, and the first one I found proved to be a source of utter fascination and the springboard for an obsession now over thirty years old.  They don't get very big, and they're not the most colorful of snakes, but they are interesting in their own right.  Originally, they were inhabitants of damp areas - marshes, swamps and the like.  When humans usurped and did away with their places to live, the little snakes moved in underfoot, taking up residence in populated areas, living in backyards under stones and leaf litter and any debris that affords shelter.  Junk yards, dumps and other places where people dump things are good places to find Brown Snakes.   In the spring, it was easy for me to see several dozen in an afternoon at a vacant lot I visited, and sometimes I could find large numbers under a single board or piece of metal.

Storeria were easy for a youngster to keep - they require a moist habitat with some cover.  I liked to put them in gallon jar terrariums with moist soil, leaf litter and a small plant or two.  It was easy to feed them too - they devour earthworms, slugs, and snails, all easy for a young lad to acquire!  They are livebearers, sometimes giving birth to a dozen or more tiny snakes.  I remember the first time I witnessed this, marveling at tiny Brown Snakes that could coil up on your fingernail with room to spare!  At right is a day-old neonate.

Even now I enjoy meeting them now again out in the field, and even better, I discovered that I have them in my back yard here in Champaign.  Small, secretive and adaptable, Brown Snakes are hanging in there!








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