When I got home from grocery shopping I pulled up to back door to unload. I made one trip in and when I came out... OMG! There was a snake skin on the cement at the foot of the steps. We find garter snake skins all the time around here.. in the stone walls and wood piles. But this was huge and something told me this wasn't a garter snake. I brought it in and measured it. It was 42"! That's almost as long as my 7 year old daughter is tall.I looked in our Field Guide to New England and it said garter snakes grow to 22". I couldn't quite match the coloration (dark tan and light tan bands) to anything in the field guide, so I hit the internet looking for Vermont snakes. I found the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas Project with a phone number. Being curious (and a little apprehensive) about what was lurking in my backyard, I called. I was dumbfounded when the phone was answered with a "hello". I was expecting some lab or research facility. Apparently, this is a one-man operation. "Uh, hi. Is this the... uh... the snake people?"
"Yes, you want to speak with my husband, " whom she put on the phone.
I told him about my find and its markings, he identified it as a Milksnake, sometimes called a Spotted Adder, which is a misnomer since it isn't an adder at all. With that size skin, it's definitely a mature adult. They quite common in Vermont. (Funny I've never seen one in my life.) He told me it was probably feeding on mice and rats. (At least I know it won't be feeding on my dog.) There are plenty of mice in the fields around here. He told me it might get in the house if it follows a mouse in. (Um, no thank you.) But he reassured me that it's harmless and we could pick it up and put it back outside. (Again, no thank you.) Finally, he told me that the snake is probably not quite that long as the skin stretches up to 20% as it comes off. (Thank you.)