Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This may look like another puffball fungus, but it’s not. It’s actually the empty shell of a Black Rat Snake egg. I seem to see more of these every year.

If it weren’t for predators digging out the eggs, I would never find any of these nests.

There were eight egg shells left at the scene. Normally there are more than this. It’s possible that some were carried away for consumption elsewhere or this could be the clutch of a young snake.

It looked like the eggs had hatched normally, so I’m hoping some of the young snakes got away. It seems to be at hatching time that the eggs and young are most vulnerable. I suppose it would be easy for an alert predator to detect the aroma of emerging hatchlings.

Snake eggs can be very similar in appearance to some turtle eggs. The best way to determine egg type is to examine the hole in which they were laid. Turtles excavate a new chamber for the clutch of eggs, so the hole would end in a wider chamber without any other exit. Snakes lay their eggs inside existing animal burrows, such as those from chipmunks or moles. When I investigated this hole, I found a tunnel leading away in opposite directions. I fed in a long grass stem and it finally emerged at the entrance to the burrow, marked here by my knife.

I suppose the snake would go ahead and eat any small animals it happened to find in the burrow. This would help to protect the eggs from any rodent damage.

As though it had been left as a territorial marker, I found a wad of shed snake skin beside the entrance to the burrow. My hope is that one day I’ll be the one to find a clutch of snake eggs just as they are hatching.


  1. Those are Black Racer eggs. Black Racer eggs have the tell-tale bumps all over their eggs.

  2. Thanks for the information. I do have frequent encounters with Black Racers in that area.