Crow’s Nest: Reptile Rendezvous

September 1, 2022

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

On Saturday, September 10, Dawn White from Indian Run Environmental Education Center will be coming by to talk about reptiles, their habitats, and reptile conservation. She’ll bring a couple of her animals that have been rehabilitated but can’t be released in the wild, so we’ll get a close up view of a couple of these fascinating animals.

Then we’ll tour a small part of the preserve to see who might make an appearance. Last week a garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) crossed the trail between the parking lot and visitor center, so that’s a possible sighting.

Two black rat snakes twining on a porch swing

Photo: Daniel Barringer

By far the most common snake we see here at Crow’s Nest is the black rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis; two are pictured above, on our porch swing a few years ago). Adults are black but juveniles are attractively patterned with gray. And yes, you do see them occasionally in trees, and I have also observed them rattle their tails in mimicry of rattlesnakes (which aren’t found around here). Occasionally we find these inside the visitor center barn.

Common water snake closeup

Photo: Daniel Barringer

A much less common sighting is the Northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon, pictured above). We’ve seen these in the stream but also in the woods a long way from water.

Box turtle

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Though they are in decline and recently designated a species of special concern, box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina, shown above) are the turtle species we are most likely to see at Crow’s Nest.

For a quick look at just the species in Pennsylvania I recommend the Pennsylvania Herps website: https://www.paherps.com. (Herptiles are reptiles and amphibians.) The website offers good photos and descriptions and distribution maps, so you can narrow down the long list of reptiles and amphibians to just the much smaller number known to occur here. If you take photos you can also report a sighting at the linked Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey website: https://paherpsurvey.org/news/email-a-sighting/.

Our Reptile Rendezvous event will be held on Saturday, September 10, from 9:00 – 10:15 am at Crow’s Nest Preserve, the barnyard at the visitor center, 201 Piersol Road, Elverson, Pennsylvania. There is a small fee charged, $5/adult, $3/child. Please register here on our website. This program is made possible by the Cassandra O. and Dennis B. Lacey Performance Series.