This post should be called "Nature Study: Snakes" I suppose as we studied more than just the Garter snake. I wanted to study Garter and Black snakes because we frequently see these snakes in our backyard. We also often see water snakes down at our beach. My boys are somewhat scared of snakes and this is probably because I am as well and avoid them (and I am probably somewhat scared of them because my parents were, etc.) This is mainly because I don't know know much about snakes and don't even know which ones are harmful and which are not. I decided it was time I learned which snakes are poisonous in our area, so I researched poisonous snakes in Maryland. It turns out that there are only two poisonous snakes in Maryland, the Cottonmouth and the Copperhead, both of which are not seen in our area because they live in rocky areas. Our area is flat wetlands. I printed out pictures of these two snakes to show the boys so that they could recognize them anyway. There are no poisonous water snakes in Maryland, which was not what I was always told as a small child.The day that Barb posted her Outdoor Hour Snakes post, Sam spotted this Garter snake in our backyard. I say spotted because often they are not all that easy to see.
In our research on Garter snakes we learned that there are many types of Garter snakes, but I could not find any more information about what types live in our area, so I could not identify ours any further. We also learned that the Garter snake bears live young instead of laying eggs. I hadn't known that any snakes bore live young.We also learned that the Black snake is also called the Rat Snake or the Black Rat Snake because they love to feast on rats. I am starting to like snakes better already.
Armed with the questions from The Handbook of Nature Study in mind, I got out crayons and paper and we looked closely at snakes...what things snakes have in common, what things are unique to each type of snake...how to snakes act and what do those actions mean...what else do you know about snakes through observing them? Then we drew pictures of the various kinds of snakes we'd talked about, the results of which are at the top of this post. I think that the boys are now ready to observe more from the Garter snakes that frequent our yard, and that is just what nature study is all about.