nonvenomous snake sheds, 2007-2010

December 22, 2010

One can come across snakes’ shed skins with some regularity, just by watching carefully while walking around.  With a little effort, one can usually identify the snake species each shed skin came from–if you note the degree of keeling on the scales, whether the anal plate is single or divided, how big the eyes are, and the indications of contrasting pattern that are often visible.  One can also be more rigorous and pay attention to finer details of scalation, but usually that is not necessary.

Here are some instances where I found a shed skin from a nonvenomous snake and took some photos.  It occurs to me that these were all from excursions when I failed to find a live snake.  I guess a searcher who has been failing to photo a live snake may be more inclined to photo snake sheds.

In the early 1990s, scientists began isolating DNA useful for genetic work from shed reptile skin–although higher quality DNA is routinely obtained from fresh, living internal tissue.

great basin gophersnake, shed skin, House Range

mid June 07, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), shed skin, House Range, Millard Co, UT

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yellowbelly racer, shed skin, Wasatch Mtns

early Aug 09, yellowbelly racer (Coluber constrictor mormon), shed skin, Wasatch Mtns, Salt Lake Co, UT

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habitat of yellowbelly racer's shed skin, Wasatch Mtns

early Aug 09, habitat of yellowbelly racer's (Coluber constrictor mormon) shed skin, Wasatch Mtns, Salt Lake Co, UT

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great basin gophersnake, shed skin, Canyon Mtns

early Sept 09, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), shed skin, Canyon Mtns, Millard Co, UT

The large gophersnake must have wound around these juniper branches as it slid out of its old skin.

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striped whipsnake, shed skin, Antelope Range

mid Oct 09, striped whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus), shed skin, Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

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habitat of striped whipsnake's shed skin, Antelope Range

mid Oct 09, habitat of striped whipsnake's (Masticophis taeniatus) shed skin, Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

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yellowbelly racer, shed skin, San Pitch Mtns

late Sept 2010, yellowbelly racer (Coluber constrictor mormon), shed skin, San Pitch Mtns, Juab Co, UT

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habitat of yellowbelly racer's shed skin, San Pitch Mtns

late Sept 2010, habitat of yellowbelly racer's (Coluber constrictor mormon) shed skin, San Pitch Mtns, Juab Co, UT

The San Pitch Mtns is a place I have visited very little.  I wonder what other reptile species might live up around those high SW-facing outcrops in this photo?

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