What is this black snake eating?
Snakes in the Carolinas eat everything, including each other, but a debate erupted this week on social media after the National Park Service posted video of a snake eating something striped at an eastern North Carolina historic site.
What exactly was this thing eating?
Plenty have asked, but the park service has yet to supply an answer, even after a week.
“Walking the trails at Moores Creek National Battlefield is always a treat as you never know what encounters you may experience,” park rangers wrote on Facebook.
The minute-long video, posted Sept. 4, shows a 4 to 5-foot black racer cramming down a meal one uncomfortable gulp at a time.
Multiple people have tried guessing what it ate, suggesting everything from a large grasshopper to a cicada. Black racers are even known to eat other snakes, which they swallow alive, according to Herpsofnc.org.
Park rangers posted the video with a note revealing they’ve lately seen snakes “hanging out on the trees,” a detail that made the Revolutionary War battlefield seem a little less inviting to people like Aspen Jones. “Nope nope nope,” she wrote on the park’s Facebook page.
So what was it eating?
The biggest clue may be the stripes, which prompted several people to deduce the “pre-hurricane snack” -- a reference to Hurricane Dorian -- was a skink. That’s a type of lizard that can grow nearly 9 inches long and, yes, some have yellow stripes.
As for why the snake appeared to struggle with its meal, it’s quite possible the lizard didn’t taste good, experts say.
Skinks are often referred to as “scorpion” lizards in the Carolinas, because they “are believed to have a venomous sting,” according to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.
“While this belief is completely false,” the lab says, “some scientists speculate that these skinks are bad-tasting to many predators.”