Just look at it


As I type this, I’m picking grit and yard debris out of my navel, the cost of getting down to a necessary level to obtain shots like this. So I want you to take a good look at this in consideration of my efforts, even if you don’t like snakes.

Worm snakes (Carphophis amoenus) are found across much of the US, but only if you know where to look. They’re very secretive, typically burrowing under leaf litter and rocks to hunt their food, which they resemble to no small degree. It’s actually easy to mistake one for an earthworm, from their size, body shape, and coloration – while this is a nice close shot, the eyes are so subtle they often appear not to have any. The head and tail taper almost exactly like a worm’s body, with no visible narrowing at the neck and a blunt tail. Even their habit of wriggling when handled can convince someone it’s a worm, if they fail to notice that the skin is quite dry and the body firmer than an invertebrate. Those paying attention may observe that, when disturbed, these snakes can shoot for cover in a manner far more directed than most earthworms.

What I like about this is how the lighting brought out the glassy smoothness and the delicate intricacies of the fitted scales, illustrating a trait that helps them cut through soil and debris with ease. Once their head disappears under cover, they can appear to have stopped moving until the tail abruptly follows, so deceptive is their motion. Completely harmless to anything thicker than macaroni, I’ve never known one to even attempt to bite, but they’re very good at vanishing. Once I was done with my photo session, my model here slipped under the grass cover almost magically.

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