Is this common?

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Joshua Jones
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Joined: August 31st, 2011, 1:33 pm
Location: Vanderbilt, Michigan

Is this common?

Post by Joshua Jones »

There's a piece of property that I've been trying to get access to for more than a month now. Yesterday, I finally got hold of the guy who owns it and got permission to poke around his trash piles. Didn't really find much, just four snakes that are far from being lifers. Two of them, though, really caught my attention. I've found two color phases of Red-bellied snakes in the areas immediately adjacent to this guy's property, red and gray (both light and dark), like one would expect. But these two were horses of a different color, so to speak. To illustrate my point, I'll show you what my normal red-bellies look like...

Image
DSCF0436 by crotalus_cerberus83, on Flickr

Image
DSCF0476 by crotalus_cerberus83, on Flickr

Like I said, pretty average. But these next two have me stumped....

Image
DSCF0719 by crotalus_cerberus83, on Flickr

Image
DSCF0734 by crotalus_cerberus83, on Flickr

These snakes have raised a few questions in my mind. Is it normal to observe both color phases in the same animal? If so, why is this the only area where I've found them? There is a small (read: tiny) pond on the property, but the vegetation is the same as my other spots, with similar swamps on either side. I personally doubt it, but is it possible that these could be a dekayi/occipitomaculata hybrid? I saw a photo on the DNR website showing a brown with very light dorsal striping, but these have no black spots and their bellies were fire-engine red.

Like I said, I'm stumped. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.

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justinm
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Re: Is this common?

Post by justinm »

I would call this a normal color phase. I don't see it as often, but most of us that see them regularly do see these.

corey.raimond
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Re: Is this common?

Post by corey.raimond »

Joshua Jones wrote: Is it normal to observe both color phases in the same animal?
I'm assuming you mean population of animals? It is normal to see different color phases like that within a population. The ones with the stripe down the back are yet another color phase. I don't see them as often as other color phases though. I have also seen some variation in the color of the belly, with one I found being light orange.
Joshua Jones wrote: I personally doubt it, but is it possible that these could be a dekayi/occipitomaculata hybrid?


Those are definitely all red-bellied snakes.

-Corey

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Joshua Jones
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Joined: August 31st, 2011, 1:33 pm
Location: Vanderbilt, Michigan

Re: Is this common?

Post by Joshua Jones »

[quote="corey.raimond]I'm assuming you mean population of animals? [/quote]

Actually, I said exactly what I meant to say. I was addressing these two animals as individuals. I've seen differences in color phases between individuals of a given population, so I had never questioned that aspect. I often flip reds and grays under the same board and even found a gray-phase animal at this particular site on the same day, not ten feet away. I was more curious, if these were red-bellies, why I would find them here and not in the immediate vicinity.

Either way, guys, thanks for your replies and for helping me narrow down my search for information. At least now I know that these aren't uncommon. :thumb:

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Chris Smith
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Re: Is this common?

Post by Chris Smith »

Did the dark gray animals still have a red/orange belly? There have been axanthics found in MN with slate gray bellies.

-Chris

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Joshua Jones
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Location: Vanderbilt, Michigan

Re: Is this common?

Post by Joshua Jones »

Chris,

I honestly couldn't tell you about ventral coloration on most of the red-bellies I find. Unless it's a lifer or something unusual (like these two), I usually just snap some quick in situ shots and carefully replace the cover item. Now that I know about the axanthics, though, I'll probably be looking a little more closely. ;)

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Tim Borski
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Re: Is this common?

Post by Tim Borski »

In WI, I've found both those looks of Rb's (rusty and
charcoal) under the same piece of NC or AC many, many times.


Tim

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ratsnakehaven
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Re: Is this common?

Post by ratsnakehaven »

Hi, Josh. I think they're probably all pure red-bellies. Red-bellies have many different color phases and some mutant phases, including melanistic and amelanistic. I've never seen red-bellies and browns hybridize and have seen many hundreds, often together in the same habitat. A week ago, in da U. P., I saw ten snakes under one board, 4 garters and 6 red-bellies. I think there were several color variations of red-bellies. I'll check my photos before making a post.

Terry

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