Sunday, November 24, 2013

Utah Milk Snake

The Utah Milk Snake is the most beautiful thing that you can find in the wild anywhere in the entire world. I must warn anyone that has even a mild interest in reptiles to turn away quickly and never gaze upon this creature again. The Utah Milk Snake is a ghost that haunts my thoughts and dreams and wastes a lot of my time and I can't get it to stop. I gave up on this blog over 3 years ago and the fact that I am even writing this post is proof of the continuing obsession. Is the Utah Milk Snake my favorite Utah snake? Definitely not, but this milk snake sub species has me captive and there is nothing I can do about it. I have looked directly into the eyes of medusa and it is too late for me. Don't let this happen to you. The first Utah Milk Snakes that I found were purely accidental. Dumb luck! I didn't even know what I was finding. My thought was Utah Mountain Kingsnakes because of the elevation. I also thought that they were juveniles because I had obtained some old literature on Utah Milk Snakes that said they were supposed to reach 3 feet in length. Actually, I think that 25 inches is as big as they get. Either that or I am only finding younger ones. The early information also showed a range map that included nearly 1/3 of the state of Utah in a solid/continuous range area. Looking back on that range map makes me laugh. I once assumed myself that if these milk snakes were found in two adjacent areas and that there was similar terrain in between the areas, then you could just connect the dots. That is not the case. I have worked the areas in between really hard in the right conditions and for reasons unknown to me I have failed miserably to find them while the other areas produce somewhat consistently. I prefer to flip stones to find Utah Milk Snakes. Flipping stones gives me a feeling of being in control. Also, there is a lot of great habitat that can only be flipped. The snake is a bit difficult to find, even in a known area in perfect conditions. I think that this is a large part of it's appeal, never mind the gorgeous colors. Ancient Utah tribal people lived where the Utah Milk Snake lived. Utah Milk Snake colors and patterns can be seen in the weavings of these former Utah inhabitants. Is this just a coincidence, or were these people acquainted with the Utah Milk Snake? I think it is possible that there may have been some ancient Utahns that had an interest in this beautiful little snake. Field herping is much more interesting than sitting around making arrowheads. The ancient Utahns are long gone, but the snake still remains.

Note:  I do not claim to be a Utah Milk Snake guru. Also, don't contact me for information to find them. Don't ask for "habitat shots", etc. Those are sensitive subjects and giving out info to those that might come collect snakes would not be fair to the snakes or those that have given pointers.

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