The Eastern Garter Snake, a Common “Garden” Snake

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. A summer vegetable garden is not only beautiful, but in the eyes of an Eastern Garter Snake, it’s an oasis of plenty. There, slugs, snails, spiders, grasshoppers, millipedes, bugs, and the occasional low-to-the-ground tree frogs may be hunted. Thamnophis sirtalis, more commonly known as the Eastern Garter Snake, is without a doubt the most commonly seen snake of Oakland County.

A bit of name clarification may be in order as well, for as much as garter snakes are attracted to gardens, there is no such snake species as a “Garden Snake” or “Gardener Snake.” The incorrect name Garden Snake seems to stay with us, and is sometimes repeated by teachers and even park professionals without a strong knowledge of snake species. Continue reading

Fantastic Forest Fall Fungi

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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The River Loop Trail of Independence Oaks County Park is a perfect gateway to autumn color.

An eye-catching world of fungal wonders has emerged in the woodlands and forests of Oakland County and much of the rest of our Pure Michigan State. No matter where you hike in the days of October, if there are trees and the forest floor is moist, mushrooms may be found. Some of these colorful mushrooms, the fantastic fungi of the golden days of October, make one wonder if perhaps they have not entered a secret world of elves and fairies.

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Home of the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake!

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Massasauga rattler sunning on the Indian Springs Metropark hike-bike trail.

The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake is a true pit-viper; the only venomous snake found in Oakland County. They are well camouflaged, docile and secretive and would rather escape than strike when threatened and that may explain a fact noted by emergency medical professionals:  on the rare occasion when a rattlesnake strikes it almost always occurs on the dominated hand of an intoxicated male.  “Hey Joe, Watch at this!” may just summarize the foolish bravado behavior that precedes most encounters between two species, homo sapiens and Sistrurus catenatus catenatus.   Humans are not on the menu, but these highly skilled ambush hunters use their heat -seeking pits to target small rodents and frogs.

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