I spotted this snake slithering through the grass in my backyard here in Arkansas. As a wildlife photographer, I always have my camera ready, so I slowly approached and knelt down to try and get a good hand-held shot.
One thing you’ll notice is the cloudy appearance of the snake’s eye. When snakes are getting ready to shed their skin, the eyes often take on a blue-ish clouded look as the scales over the eyes begin to loosen. However, this snake’s brown scales do not appear to be dull or loose at all. From this, I gather the eye cloudiness is not related to an impending shed.
I’m not entirely sure what species this snake is. If anyone recognizes the species, please comment and let me know! I love learning about the wildlife found right here in my own backyard.
For now, I’m just happy I could capture this beautiful animal in its natural habitat. One never knows what they’ll find when they take the time to explore nature’s wonders. Snakes may strike fear in some people, but they play an important role in the ecosystem and deserve our respect. As a nature photographer, my goal is to showcase their beauty and hidden behaviors most people never get to see.
Here are some potential reasons why a snake’s eyes may appear cloudy:
- Shedding – As snakes prepare to shed their skin, their eyes often take on a bluish, opaque appearance. This is caused by the loosening of the spectral scales over the eyes before the skin is sloughed off. The cloudiness goes away after the snake completes its shed.
- Cataracts – Snakes can develop cataracts which cause opacity and cloudiness in the lens of the eye. This can occur from old age, eye injuries, or poor nutrition.
- Eye caps – Some snakes about to shed have white eye caps that form over the eyes. These eye caps cause the eyes to look cloudy until the caps peel off along with the old skin.
- Dehydration – Lack of hydration and water can potentially cause a film to form over a snake’s eyes, giving them a cloudy, bluish-white appearance. Proper hydration clears it up.
- Sickness – Certain illnesses, infections, or parasites can result in cloudy eyes in snakes. Things like respiratory infections, mouth rot, and inclusion body disease may be associated with eye cloudiness.
- Blindness – Complete blindness, often from old age, previous injury, or congenital issues, can make snakes’ eyes appear bluish-gray and opaque. The eyes are unresponsive to light.
- Before sloughing – Increased skin secretions before sloughing can get in snake’s eyes making them look temporarily cloudy.
- Stuck shed – Leftover bits of stuck shed on the eyes after sloughing can obstruct vision and cause cloudiness.
- Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III
- Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
- Location: Arkansas
- Date and Time Taken: September 25, 2009 (2:59:08 P.M.)
- Aperture Priority
- Aperture: f7.1
- Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec. (as determined by the camera)
- ISO: 400
- Exposure Bias: 0 EV
- Focal Length: 400 mm