Nature Notes

Please check back periodically for information about our resident animals, wildlife, and other natural phenomenon.

Thanks to Master Naturalist Debbie Satorius for these articles on . . .

Northern Water Snake       
Nerodia sipedon

    All Photos by Debbie Satorius

·       Averaging at an adult length of 2-4’, this a common snake in Maryland that frequents ponds, streams, lakes and most any wetland habitat.
·       Females are larger than males. Young snakes are born alive from July to September. The litter ranges in size from 4 to 99 offspring. Larger females tend to have larger litters.
·       These snakes are not venomous, but are often mistaken for copperheads or cottonmouths due to their markings.
·       Their colors vary greatly in appearance from gray, tan, buff or brown.  Colors are more vivid in young and wet snakes.
·       They have no heat sensing pits like venomous snakes, their pupils are round  and  their heads are narrow and oval.
·        When threatened they can flatten their bodies and begin to strike and bite furiously while emitting a foul smelling musk.
·        Producing a protein in their saliva that is an anti-coagulant, they can bite and follow the trail of blood to their wounded prey.

Skunk Cabbage
Symplocarpus foetidus

·       A moisture loving forest ephemeral
·       More closely related to Jack-in-the-pulpit than cabbage
·       It gets its name from the pungent odor it gives off when 
      any part of the plant is  broken or damaged
·       Flowers in the winter before leaves emerge, attracting 
      gnats and flies that pollinate the flowers and take 
      refuge within the flower structure. Often flowers 
      in February.
·       Food for snails and slugs as well as ruby tiger 
      moth and cattail borer moth caterpillars
·       Contain crystals of calcium oxalate, making them toxic 
      to most animals, yet hungry snapping turtles and 
      bears have been seen eating the leaves in spring

Photo Credit:  Debbie Satorius

Feeds winter pollinators.

Flowers through the snow.

Spring leaves.

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