Posts Tagged ‘Thamnophis sauritus’

Can snakes whistle? It sure looks like this Common Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus) is trying hard to whistle as he purses his lips and seems to be blowing air in this series of shots. Who knew that snakes had lips? This snake has lips that rival those of Mick Jagger and look a bit like they were enhanced with collagen.

When you shoot subjects, how close do you get to them? My general rule for wildlife subjects is to shoot them from a distance (so I can be sure of getting a shot) and then move slowly closer and closer. I was amazed at how close this snake let me approach—this first shot was not cropped very much at all.

I like the head-and-shoulders look of the first image (taking into account the fact that snakes don’t really have shoulders), which draws attention to the snake’s eye. At times, though, I prefer the shots that show more of the snake’s body and my favorite of this group is probably the third shot. I really like the curve of the snake’s body and the tilt of its head. It’s hard to see in this reduced-size image, but two little tips of the snake’s forked tongue are visible in its partially open mouth.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Some days it seems like anything that catches my eye is a potentially viable subject. This was the case last Friday when I was walking in a marsh in a local park and came upon this snake. Much of his body was concealed, but the upper body was exposed enough for me to attempt a head-and-shoulders portrait. Oh, wait a minute, I guess a snake does not really have shoulders, so I guess I was attempting a head-and-neck portrait.

The snake was beautiful in his own way, with wonderfully textured skin and stunning gold accents around his eyes. I thought he was probably a garter snake, but after a bit of research I am now convinced he is an Eastern Ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus), not a Common Garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). If you are at all interested in the differences, there is a wonderful article entitled “Telling Garter Snakes and Ribbon Snakes Apart” at http://www.gartersnake.info (yes, that’s the actual web address).

As I was admiring his beauty, he may have decided to remind me that he is a predator as suddenly he opened his mouth wide, really wide. I was looking through the lens at him and the effect was magnified because his head filled a good portion of the frame of the viewfinder. My first thought was that he was sizing me up as a potential snack. I had the presence of mind to snap a picture before his mouth snapped shut. A vine covers part of his mouth in the photo, but I decided to include it to show you how wide his mouth really is.

Now I understand how he is able to do things like swallow frogs whole. I’m glad I’m a lot bigger than a frog.

Eastern Ribbon Snake Posing for Portrait

Eastern Ribbon Snake Sizing Me Up

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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