Missouri, the "Show Me State," is not just known for its jazz, barbecues, and the Gateway Arch. It's also home to a variety of wildlife, including some slithery surprises. Yes, we're talking about snakes, specifically brown snakes. Now, before you start packing your bags and planning a move to Antarctica, let's unravel the truth about these misunderstood creatures.
The Brown Snake: An Introduction
First things first, let's get acquainted with our subject. The brown snake, scientifically known as Storeria dekayi, is a small, non-venomous snake species native to North America. Despite its rather bland name, the brown snake is an interesting creature with a lot to offer in terms of ecological contribution and personality.
These snakes are usually brown (shocker, right?), but their color can range from gray to nearly black. They're known for their distinctive dorsal stripe and the characteristic black spots on their backs and sides. They're quite small, usually only reaching about 9 to 13 inches in length.
The Brown Snake's Habitat
Brown snakes are quite adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats. They're just as comfortable in a forest as they are in an urban park or your backyard. In Missouri, they're commonly found in the woodlands, prairies, and near bodies of water.
These snakes are quite secretive and prefer to stay hidden under rocks, leaves, or other debris. So, the next time you're gardening, don't be too surprised if you uncover one of these little guys.
The Brown Snake's Diet
Brown snakes are carnivorous, but they're not exactly the top predators you might imagine. Their diet primarily consists of slugs, snails, and earthworms. They play a crucial role in controlling the population of these invertebrates, making them an important part of the ecosystem.
So, if you've been wondering who's been eating all your garden slugs, you might just have a brown snake to thank!
Common Misconceptions About Brown Snakes
Now that we've covered the basics, let's address some of the common misconceptions about brown snakes. After all, they're not the slithering nightmares some people make them out to be.
Firstly, brown snakes are non-venomous and pose no threat to humans. They're quite timid and will only bite as a last resort. Even then, their tiny teeth are unlikely to break human skin. So, if you happen to encounter one, there's no need to panic.
Brown Snakes are Not Aggressive
Contrary to popular belief, brown snakes are not aggressive creatures. They're quite shy and would rather hide or play dead than confront a potential threat. If you come across one, it's more likely to slither away than to attack.
Remember, snakes are more scared of you than you are of them. So, give them the respect and space they deserve, and they'll do the same for you.
Brown Snakes are Not Pests
Another common misconception is that brown snakes are pests. This couldn't be further from the truth. As mentioned earlier, these snakes play a crucial role in controlling the population of certain invertebrates. So, rather than being a nuisance, they're actually quite beneficial to have around.
Plus, they're not known to cause any property damage. So, if you find one in your garden, consider yourself lucky!
FAQs About Brown Snakes
Let's address some frequently asked questions about brown snakes. After all, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to understanding our slithery friends.
- Are brown snakes dangerous?
No, brown snakes are non-venomous and pose no threat to humans.
- What should I do if I find a brown snake in my yard?
Leave it alone. Brown snakes are beneficial to the ecosystem and pose no threat to you or your property.
- What do brown snakes eat?
Brown snakes primarily eat slugs, snails, and earthworms.
- How big do brown snakes get?
Brown snakes usually reach about 9 to 13 inches in length.
So, there you have it. The truth about brown snakes in Missouri. They're not the menacing creatures some people make them out to be. Instead, they're shy, non-venomous, and beneficial to our ecosystem.
So, the next time you spot one of these slithering surprises, remember what you've learned here today. And instead of running away in fear, take a moment to appreciate these fascinating creatures for what they truly are.