Early Tuesday morning I set out for North Carolina with one goal in mind, find a rainbow snake. The whole 6 hr drive to my buddies house in Virginia I had this nagging feeling that all this driving would be of little use. He had only seen 1 live one to 22 dead ones, and I know many others who have had similar experiences.
I arrived at around 7 am. It was wet and cold, in the low 50s. Somewhat discouraging, but I knew that rainbow snakes are fairly cold tolerant so we immediately hit the road and got to work hiking, hoping to see one. We found a few eastern cottonmouths (a subspecies lifer for me) right off the bat, a good sign that the local snakes didn't mind the cold too much.
DSC04555 by Tyler Hake, on Flickr
It didn't take long before we hit pay dirt. A small male rainbow snake basking along the edge of the water. At first we thought he had been hit by a car, but as we started handling him we realized he was just extremely cold. He started tongue flicking and crawling around. My lifer rainbow snake! I was thankful that he was alive, but also that he was quite cold. It made it fairly easy to get the shots I wanted.
DSC04183 by Tyler Hake, on Flickr
I was completely floored. It wasn't the prettiest rainbow snake in the world, but a rainbow is a rainbow. We kept hiking and shortly after we manged to hike up ANOTHER rainbow! This one was basking under a patch of dead grass and the only reason we managed to find it is because Dane accidentally stepped on it. Again, not the prettiest rainbow. It was missing one eye and it's other was gross and infected.
But again, a rainbow is a rainbow! We were sure we would not see another rainbow snake so we tried a few other local areas with no luck.
DSC04438 by Tyler Hake, on Flickr
DSC04416 by Tyler Hake, on Flickr
Our buddy Kameron texted us later that evening and let us know he was going to come out. We thought he was crazy, we had used up all of our rainbow luck for a life time or two. Nonetheless we got up bright and early and set out in search of his lifer rainbow snake. It didn't take long until we manged to walk up yet another rainbow snake. This one the biggest and prettiest IMO. Unfortunately at this point I was getting pretty lazy with my photos so none of them are great.
DSC04651 by Tyler Hake, on Flickr
With a few hours to spare before I needed to head back to PA we continued south to beautiful Hyde county, NC hoping to see an early pygmy or two out. Although we didn't get to see any pygmies, we did manage to flip a big cornsnake and while walking back to my car I noticed this big beast stretched out in front of my car. My lifer eastern kingsnake! I have worked my ass off looking for these snakes across a few states and have always come up empty handed. It was a pretty great way to tie up an already amazing trip.
DSC04708 by Tyler Hake, on Flickr
DSC04723 by Tyler Hake, on Flickr
On the way out we cruised this pretty disappointing DOR. I would have loved to see a canebrake this trip. Maybe next time!
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