Song birds are singing, daffodils will soon appear, and one of my favorite, often overlooked signs of spring has entered its kitten-fur phase. Kitten-fur? The “furry” feeling catkins of pussy willow are now at their peak and free of snow from Monday’s mini squall in northernmost Oakland County.
Their blossoms produce abundant pollen in the early days of spring, a discovery I learned from watching my foraging honey bees.
The blue sky days of spring are taking hold, and with increased hours of daylight and thawing of vernal ponds and frozen earth, the great awakening of our snakes, frogs, and toads is accelerating. Today I’ll be sharing snippets of information on a dozen of my favorite snakes and frogs that are slithering and hopping about. They have been waiting longer for spring than you and I have been. Let’s welcome them!
If all snake species that live in Oakland County were entered in a reptilian Academy Awards category, “Best Actor By A Native Snake,” the strange and beautiful eastern hognose snake would win unanimously.
Contrary to myth and urban legend, the northern water snake is not a cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), the only venomous water snake in the United States. The cottonmouth, sometimes called a water moccasin, is found in the Southeast, ranging from southern Virginia to Florida and west to East Texas. The only venomous snake in Oakland County is the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, and the behavior of the northern water snake and eastern massasauga rattlesnake have little in common. Our native rattler tends to be reclusive and is seldom seen. The northern water snake is often seen, and almost always at the water’s edge. Continue reading →