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Old 10-22-03, 07:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I found this snake...

Hi, I need help. I live in Ohio, and two days ago my boyfriend, who is a builder, found a snake. The thing is, it was on a trainload of wood brought in from Quebec. I can't post a picture because my digicam is cheap and won't focus, so I can only describe it.
He, (I decided) is about 3" long, about the length of a lighter. Light brown, with no obvious stripe. He does have 2 Darker brown almost triangle shapes on his head. He whips around like a common garter, but so do my Cali Kings, so that means nothing. One odd thing about him is that just below his neck are two prominent bumps on either side. His belly is cream colored.
I don't know what to feed him, or if I can safely release him here in Ohio, he's really small, and it's getting cold. Also, if he isn't something that resides here... what can that do to my ecosystem?
I don't know what to do, however it was mentioned that he could be an "earthworm" snake? Any help is great. Sorry for the length of this post.
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Old 10-22-03, 08:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Likely a DeKay's snake (Storeria dekayi).
They are also native to Ohio, this pcture was taken in Ohio:

Cheers,
RMB
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Old 10-22-03, 08:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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To answer your question, it is in everyone's best interest for you to a) maintain it in captivity b) bring it back to the exact location and release it (an impossibility perhaps) or c) euthanize it.
Option b) is by far the best choice but, of course, requires the most amount of effort. Option a) is the next best but it also requires a great deal of effort, DeKay's have specialized diets (soft bodied gastropods, annelids and insects). Option c) is the last resort option.
Notice that releasing it in your ecosystem is not an option, this is extremely inadvisable for the sake of all the other organisms (least of all the individual you are releasing). The specifics as to why this isn't a good idea are quite lengthy, however, the introduction of novel genes is not always good for the species (not to mention disease/pathogen transmission that the native herpetofauna have not been exposed to).
The only option for me would be a), it's a lot of work but that's the kind of guy I am. I am currently raising a Hemidactylus ssp. that came in on a tropical plant, this guy is smaller than a penny.....
Cheers,
RMB
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Old 10-22-03, 08:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Ryan's right on the money- definitely don't release it. Given the distance from Ohio to Quebec and the tremendous waste of resources and pollution created by driving it back, that seems terrible to me. It's not like DeKay's are a rare species!

Adult DeKay's aren't too tough to keep as long as you have access to worms, but juveniles take more effort- feed frequently! If you don't feel up to the challenge, perhaps you could donate it to a local nature centre or outreach program that might be able to make use of it in an educational capacity.

Good luck,

Jeff Hathaway
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Old 10-22-03, 10:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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hey,i wouldn't consider C-euthanize it. an option,although i do agree that it shouldn't be released in your area(unless it does happen to be a species native to there)if keeping it,or releasing it back in Quebec aren't options,it shouldn't be hard to find a new home for it
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Old 10-22-03, 11:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The old adage certainly applies here (edited for political correctness) "If you give someone no other options, than you leave them no choice." <-- usually the case with euthanasia (a taboo discussion best left for moral issues class). Perhaps you disagree with euthanasia, not necessarily relating to this particular case?
c) is the last resort when all other options have been exhausted, it is an option and it supercedes release into the wild.
Donation to a nature centre is your best bet, try the natural centres at your State Parks. I was in a Natural Centre in Line, Pennsylvania and they had DeKay's in an exhibit (depending on where you are in Ohio you may be able to make the trip).
Good Luck!
Cheers,
R
P.S. For what it's worth, c) is not an option for me either, simply because I would not exterminate as a matter of convenience, many people would/do.
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Old 10-23-03, 08:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you so very much! That is definately a picture of him, tho he is just a tiny thing. B.) and C.) are certainly not options for me, I can't go to Canada, and I couldn't hurt the little guy for love nor money. Now the challenge will be raising him, tho I think I may call nearby State Parks (there are several) and see what they say. Can you give me a little better idea of what to feed him? I'm used to rodent eaters, tho our CWD eats insects... Thanks again all. We appreciate it!
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Old 10-23-03, 09:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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DeKay's are specialized slug eaters and will feed almost exclusively on them when they are young and small. Jeff mentions that they can feed on worms when they are older and this is certainly true (smaller worms, blood worms, may be taken when they are young). DeKay's snakes have specialized jaws and teeth that assist them in pulling snails from their shells. You could also try waxworms, I have no experience with this prey item but it seems to me that the snake might accept these.
The key is finding suitably sized items for such a tiny snake.
I have read that pill bugs (isopods - tiny land crustaceans) and small amphibians will be taken (were talking, perhaps, newly metamorphosed Spring Peepers - very small, an impossibility to locate in the wild).
Good Luck,
RMB
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