I'm not a herpetologist, but this week I'm playing one at home:
Snake #1, about 8" in length, found in the middle of our backyard:
Eastern hognose snakes are often killed because they imitate the bad behavior of venomous snakes by hissing, head jabs, fanning the head and neck (like a cobra) and shaking their tails. If the bad behavior doesn't work, they play dead. Although they have fangs in the back of the mouth, they rarely if ever bite humans and are not considered venomous. They eat frogs and other amphibians, so we relocated this guy to a remote area with a nice big pond.
Snake #2, about 36", chased out of the garden by the pup:
Southern black racers are terrific snakes to have around for a couple of reasons: they eat insects, frogs, other snakes, rats, and just about anything else they can catch. They're also very nervous and prefer to run rather than fight. Racers will only defend themselves if they're cornered, and they will bite to defend themselves, but are nonvenomous. This snake is also often killed because when cornered, it will shake its tail like a rattler.
We've been living with this snake in the garden for a year now, and I've gotten used to him being around. He does run the minute the kids or I come near him. The problem now is our dog. Buddy has almost caught the racer three times over the last month, so I think we're going to have to catch and relocate him.
Molted skin of Snake #3, 72-1/2" long (that's my shoe beside it for size reference), found hanging on the south fence:
This one may be a granddaddy of a black racer, which usually reaches a maximum length of 70", or something else. We took the skin over to the local wildlife rehab center to see if they can identify it for us. I'm hoping he lives over in the neighbor's pasture, but I'll be keeping an eye out for him.