So you saw a snake


A northern water snake

Surprise and sometimes fear is often the reaction of those who happen along these animals with scales.

According to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, there are 18 nonvenomous and three venomous snake species found within commonwealth’s borders.

The three venomous snakes are the timber rattlesnake, the northern copperhead and the eastern massasauga rattlesnake.

The commission’s website,, has some tips on how to tell the species apart.

“All Pennsylvania native venomous snakes possess 1) an indentation or pit on each side of the head between the eye and nostril, 2) a vertically elliptical eye pupil resembling that of a cat, and 3) a single  row of scales on the underside of the tail,” the website said.

One nonvenomous snake that is sometimes confused with the venomous ones is the northern water snake.

An article by Chris Urban, nongame and endangered species coordinator for the commission, detailed the history of the snake from thought pest to a subject of interest.

The article is found on the commission’s website under a link for the northern water snake.

It included historical excerpts from old newspapers about how the snake was feared as a detriment to fish populations.

It also listed some facts about the snake. It feasts on small fish, toads and salamanders. The article claimed that game fish are not the snake’s staple diet, although they will eat a sick or recently killed fish.

One interesting thing the article mentioned is that water snakes have an anticoagulant in their saliva.

On the other end, according to the article, the snakes also serve as food for a host of other critters including herons, egrets and raccoons.



Despite the snake threat, frogs still sunned themselves at the neighbor’s pond and a few more dragonflies showed up.


Female common whitetail dragonfly

A catbird was captured singing its heart out. One male hummingbird has claimed the feeder as his own as the goldfinches squabble over the thistle feeder, and a yellow-bellied sapsucker makes sure he is heard by banging on the TV antenna.




Yellow-bellied sapsucker drumming on a TV antenna


Male ruby-throated hummingbird



More flowers are blooming and a little buck’s horns are starting to take shape.


Rhododendron blossoms





A young buck in velvet is captured by the trail camera.


A Walk in the Woods contains photos from newsroom staffer Anna Applegate’s daily jaunts around her neck of the woods. Tagging along on the treks are dogs Buford, Sherman and Sadie, and goats Kyle and Kennedy. Applegate manages the Good Times and can be emailed at