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August 28, 2006

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PSP

As someone who spent much of my childhood wandering the woods of the hill towns, I truly fail to see why this is a bad thing for anyone but the folks up north who are going to have these snakes dumped near them.

GreenmanTim

Ah, very cool snakes. Threatened species in NJ, as your research no doubt informed you. They apparently vibrate their tails when threatened but are neither venomous nor do they have rattles. They cane get pretty big, though. I've never seen one.

Laura

They were northern pine snakes, Tim. I did a bit more searching around and came up with the name I couldn't remember.

GreenmanTim

There is no subspecies of rattlesnake in the Northeast that is specific to dune systems. The timbers have upland dens and with few exceptions no longer not come East of the Highlands in the mid- Atlantic states. Lakehurst sounds like a naturalist's delight - given the clearance to enjoy it!

Laura

Is there such a thing as a Pine Barrens Rattlesnake? A quick google search didn't answer that.

A few years ago I went on a nature walk at Lakehurst Naval Station with an excellent government naturalist and there was a special snake that he had been studying there on the base. Can't remember what it was.

If you ever have the opportunity to wander around Lakehurst (not likely since 9/11) - it's a great place and has some nice grassland habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Laura

Thanks for that link, Tim.

I'm not sure I remember what it looked like. There was no one else around that late spring day that I could point it out to either. I asked the local *expert* some time later and he too suggested the hognose snake as they are sometimes seen there in the dunes at North Pond, but I don't know snakes at all to remember the details of what I saw.

It was big (take that for what it's worth!), but not so big as to send me running away screaming.

GreenmanTim

Laura, there are plenty of snakes that might be found at Sandy Hook. Not timber rattlesnakes, but perhaps you were fortunate enough - at least those of use who enjoy seeing unusual snakes would consider you fortunate - to have seen an eastern hognosed snake. They have triangular heads and fat bodies like vipers but are not venomous. They like pine barrens and systems with sandy substrates. They have the disconcerting habit of playing dead when threatened, and are particularly fond of toads. It is not listed as rare in New Jersey but is watched carefully because its population numbers are decreasing. This link provides more information: http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/eastern_hognose_snake.htm

Otherwise, there are lots of other common snakes that you might have seen at Sandy Hook but without a description I'm not going to be able to narrow down the possibilities. What did it look like?

Laura

I agree with Genevieve. I'd like to know they're out there (waaay out there). lol!

I only ever met a snake once; out in the dunes at Sandy Hook. Forget what type it was - maybe you can make a guess, Tim?

I was pretty startled by it, but glad to have come across it. Glad too that I spotted it sunning on the dune trail before I stepped on it.

Genevieve

I'm really sorry to hear about the empty rattlesnake den. Rattlesnakes are one of many animals that I like to know are still thriving in the wild, even though I don't wish to ever encounter one.

GreenmanTim

Moving fish from one place to another is also a great way of moving bait, such as earthworms, to systems where they do not naturally occur and where they can dramatically alter soil structure and nutrient cycling. Invasive worms are a hot topic in some conservation circles. As for critters on range land, Sam's overall "live and let live" approach does him credit. It is not easy to coexist with venomous snakes, which is why I am a nuisance rattlesnake responder in a couple of northeast states. It is far preferable to have someone like me to call who is licensed to appropriately assist a snake out of a conflict situtation than to reach for a shovel or shotgun.

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