put on your faces – plainbelly water snake

Close-up of a plainbelly water snake (a.k.a. plain-bellied water snake; Nerodia erythrogaster) while it swims and tastes the water (2009_06_06_022257_c)

Plainbelly water snake (a.k.a. plain-bellied water snake; Nerodia erythrogaster)

14 thoughts on “put on your faces – plainbelly water snake”

    1. Thanks, Amber! I really liked that the snake happened to have its tongue out when I photographed it. I couldn’t have asked for a better pose.

      As for your snake, it is the same species. More accurately, yours is a subspecies called a blotched water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster transversa). N. erythrogaster comes in many flavors and colors, and variations really make it hard to ID them sometimes (e.g., the blotched water snake has a “dark phase” that looks almost like the plainbelly and yellowbelly versions).

  1. How in the world did you take that photo?! The clarity is excellent, but there’s movement so you had to have a fast shutter speed, which means you had to have good light but there are no annoying shadows or specular highlights from a flash. You amaze me!

    Pretty cool that we both posted on reptiles on the same day.

    1. I’m humbled by the generous compliment, Ted. Thank you!

      This photo was taken early in the morning (about 7:30), so there was no direct light–the sun had only just climbed over the trees. And the creek the snake was in rests about two feet below ground level, hence the water is in deeper shadow until late morning at best. All of that to say there wasn’t a great deal of light to work with.

      I’m loath to use flash even when it’s best; instead I used a fast(-ish) shutter speed (f/5.6) and high ISO (800). But I wanted some depth and detail, so I had exposure at 1/256 of a second. To stop from picking up motion blur with that length of time, I set a negative exposure bias of -0.7 to help.

      I did lighten the image a tad and reduced the ISO noise. Still–and here’s the critical me–I wasn’t as thrilled with it as I could have been, but following along the bank as the snake swam and flicked its tongue out frequently was probably an encounter I wouldn’t be able to duplicate any time soon.

      And yes, I was tickled that we both chose yesterday as reptile day. It definitely put a smile on my face!

  2. Great photo! You’re right, snakes are not given the respect they deserve. Can’t help feeling that Adam and Eve have a lot to answer for there. In Australia all snakes are protected but that doesn’t stop some people from going out of their way to run over a snake if they get the opportunity.

    1. Thank you, Carol! I agree: I’ve always believed the snake’s poor representation in Genesis has a lot to do with its being so despised and mistrusted (read as: misunderstood) in societies heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian beliefs. Thankfully outside that sphere of influence there are places and peoples who revere and respect serpents–and that’s a good thing!

  3. Really great capture of the detail on the snake. One can see the smooth black scales, curve of the tongue. I agree with Carol, snakes don’t get their due – they are really fascinating and unique (given their locomotion), and perhaps that is why they get such bad treatment by some, i.e., they are “alien, other.” For me, this snake is an interesting comparison to some of the modern art that I have seen recently.

    1. Thanks, Amar! The snake as modern art… I like that. They are a fascinating lot. I watched a young one yesterday as it climbed through a felled branch trying to find a spot of sun. Before I knew it, I’d stood watching the snake for several minutes, just staring as it swam to the branch, began its climb, curled in and out of the various obstacles, flicked its tongue… Every move was methodical, every pause strategic. It was cool to just watch it.

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