At Sweetwater Preserve in Gainesville, this bike rack sits right off the Gainesville Hawthorne Trail extension to Depot Street at the entrance to the preserve’s hiking loop.
We’ve never seen a bike rack before that was both strikingly beautiful and an excellent lesson in identifying a deadly snake from a harmless one. Both are found in this preserve.
Coral Snake Identification
The coloration on the left is that of the Eastern coral snake, a small venomous snake that inhabits the drier habitats of Florida.
The little mnemonic we learned as kids about the coral snake is “red touch yellow, kill a fellow.”
Florida doesn’t have a lot of venomous snakes, but this little guy packs much more of a punch than any rattler or cottonmouth.
It’s a myth that its bite will immediately kill you, but the coral snake is in the cobra family.
We’ve read that they don’t strike, but must chew through skin to inject their venom.
We have seen quite a few in the wild. Unlike rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, they have not exhibited any aggression towards us.
Seek immediate medical attention if bit.
The Scarlet kingsnake’s pattern is depicted at the right end of the bike rack.
It is easily confused with the coral snake because its colors can be the same, but they appear in a different order.
The rhyme associated with this snake? “Red touch black, friend of Jack.”
Like the coral snake, it prefers drier habitats. It also tends to be larger, both thicker and longer, than the average coral snake.
It will bite if you disturb it – all snakes will bit if they feel threatened – but the kingsnake non-venomous.
Both of us have been around many snakes since our youth. John was a camp counselor at Camp La-No-Che helping other youth with their Nature merit badges.
Sandra’s aunt raised snakes in her basement, and her father became friends with Ross Allen at Silver Springs.
She handled and posed for a photo with a very large indigo snake at Silver Springs when she was just eight years old.
We both enjoy seeing snakes when we hike, but prefer not being startled by them.
Snakes do a wonderful job of clearing out other vermin (like mice and rats) that you don’t want around.
When you’re hiking, just leave snakes be. Rarely will they bother you if you don’t bother them.
Don’t pick up snakes! That is how most people get bit.