The Great Snake Weigh-in of 2015

This month Jennifer and I started doing something we’ve been meaning to do since the fall of 2013: weigh all the snakes in our menagerie. It’s something neither of us has ever done before; we’d had vague ideas of the approximate weights of our various critters, but that’s about it.

Our method was pretty straightforward: tare the scale, stick the snake on it, and take its picture. Those of you who follow me on social media will have seen the photos already; I’ve assembled them into a photo album here.

As you can imagine we’ve been starting with the snakes most likely to sit still on a scale while I take their pictures; even so, some of the tame-but-exuberant snakes (hi there, Baird’s rat snake!) proved hard to do. We’ve just passed the halfway mark. Here are the results so far:

One immediate surprise was that our male black pine snake (Lucifer, for those who’ve me him) was substantially heavier than our female bullsnake (Lucy, for those who’ve met her); I thought it was the other way around. The bullsnakes are, I think, less heavy but longer (though I haven’t measured their lengths either, so I could still be surprised). We’ve only weighed two of the five Pituophis so far, though.

Every other snake weighed so far is under than two pounds, and many are around a pound. (We don’t work with big snakes here.)

I’m not sure how coincidental it is that the male corn snakes are heavier than the females (Pretzel is ancient—I’ve had her since May 1999, and she wasn’t a baby then—but has always been small: she’s only 397 grams). And while female garter snakes ought to be larger than males, the two male checkered garter snakes are problematic feeders: that one of them weighed in at just 63 grams is probably the sign of an underweight snake. I’m not sure he should be only one-sixth the weight of a female checkered garter snake of similar age.

It’s useful information. We should have started doing this long ago.