Friday, March 20, 2009

Rhymes with snakes

Yellow touching red: you're dead. Red touching black: safe for jack. Red against yellow can kill a fellow. You might have heard one of these rhymes used to determine whether a snake is venomous or not. For the most part these rhymes using colors are correct and can be applied, but not always. Look at these two snakes:

The shovel nose snake (bottom photo by Tom Brennan) looks very similar to the coral snake (top photo). The rhyme doesn't work for the non-venomous shovel nose (and some others like one of my milk snakes), so then a new rhyme will have to be created to add confusion: Red touches yellow, might be safe for a fellow? If you find a snake on an outing, it is best to just leave it alone. Stay at least 3 feet away and maybe get some pictures for bragging rights. If you find a venomous snake on your property or near where kids play, just call a local reptile rescue and have the snake relocated. Killing snakes doesn't accomplish anything.