Saturday was summer-like, and among the many enjoying the Belfast rail trail — families on bikes, joggers, and dog walkers — was a 3-foot black snake, basking in the sun. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists identified it is a black rat snake, native to southern New England, and much of the eastern U.S. The nearest breeding populations are in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont, so the visitor to Belfast is likely an escaped pet, or a stowaway from warmer climes. The snake is not venomous but, like nearly any snake, it may bite if harassed, and should be treated with respect. DIFW biologist Derek Yorks would be interested to hear of any other sightings of the snake:


Murray Carpenter is a freelance journalist who lives in Belfast.