The more I begin to settle in with my new position, the less I find myself in the woods on the hunt for anything wild. But today was a pleasant surprise thanks to my good friend and botanist, Andrew Gibson (The Natural Treasures of Ohio). In fact, this isn't the first time he's pulled me out of my slump and, likewise, it isn't the first time Andrew and I have had an unusually good day as far as extraordinary finds. One of the last times he and I tromped around, we came across two orchid county records in the same day in different locations. Well, today was no different. We hit Adams and Scioto Counties for a chance to see some summer flora. We certainly got what we asked for with a handful of orchids and some extremely rare plants to boot, which I will tackle in a later post. Though, what was most exciting about this trip was our encounter with a heated snake fight. First of all, coming across any two animals fighting in the wild is just plain lucky, let along snakes. But, what made this experience especially extraordinary were the species of snakes involved.
Initially, we thought the black snake was a common black rat snake. But, to our surprise, it turned out to be the rare eastern king snake. After this bout, the name "king" makes perfect sense - trust me. After it finished the copperhead off, it retreated into the woods unremorseful.
Eastern king snakes are known in Ohio only to our most southern counties, where they are uncommon. They are constrictors that prey on a variety of things such as amphibians, eggs, lizards, and other snakes - especially venomous species because they are immune to venom. What a neat species and a great highlight to an excellent day in the field!