Pam sent me a photo of a spectacular serpent that I’m pretty certain is a milksnake. Pretty certain. But not 100% certain.
I took the photo in the driveway at Rosslyn. Probably around 2’ long. — Pam Murphy
Judging by color and markings, the Y-pattern on its head, as well as the head and tail shapes, I’m pretty confident that this matches the May 15, 2009 sighting I reported about eleven years ago. Here’s Pam’s snapshot.
Although my original post explored the possibility of Eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) an update to the post concluded that a considerably more likely possibility was that I’d seen a milksnake, aka milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum), a species of kingsnake.
While I feign no herpetology pretenses, my October 9, 2014 re-identification hinged upon communication from a more learned authority.
Recently I was contacted by a herpetologist here in NY studying the Massasauga who was interested in my observation. In our discussion he mentioned this:
It is common for Milksnakes to be identified as Massasaugas. The belief is that Milk snakes have evolved to mimic venomous species in their area, and in eastern states are known to be EMR mimics. Is it possible what you saw was a Milk Snake? — Alexander Robillard of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Possible indeed! Even likely. I’ve concluded that, then as now, Rosslyn’s resplendent snake was a milksnake. What do you think?