Wildlife specialist Gus Ben David has been looking for Dekay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi) on the Vineyard since he was a boy. The thin little snakes with keeled scales are common throughout Massachusetts and have been found on Cuttyhunk, Naushon and Penikese islands.

On Wednesday Mr. Ben David finally got his wish when he confirmed a sighting of Dekay’s Brownsnake, discovered in Aquinnah. This brings the total species of non-venomous snakes on the Island to eight; there are no recorded venomous snakes on the Vineyard.

Courtney Moreis was working on a building on tribal lands in Aquinnah when he looked under a handicap ramp and saw a nest of three or four brown snakes with unfamiliar markings. Mr. Moreis took a photograph and sent it to his daughter Mariah Ben David, Gus Ben David’s granddaughter and former curator of his World of Reptiles and Birds exhibit. She then sent the photograph to her grandfather who immediately called Mr. Moreis to ask if he could capture the snake to be properly examined.

The next day, after Mr. Moreis secured a specimen, he and Mr. Ben David met halfway between Edgartown and Aquinnah to make the exchange.

“To me, to look at this animal that I’ve been looking for, for 70 years, it’s unbelievable,” Mr. Ben David said.

The search for Dekay’s Brownsnake on the Vineyard has a long history. In the 1970’s James ‘Skip’ Lazell, author of This Broken Archipelago which details all the reptiles and amphibians on the Vineyard, Nantucket and Elizabeth Islands, brought his students to the Island to do an extensive search. The group stayed at Felix Neck, at the time run by Mr. Ben David, and looked all over the Island to no avail.

But despite the new discovery, Mr. Ben David thinks the snake has most likely been here for a long time, going about its existence undetected.

“They’ve probably been here since the early Wampanoags,” Mr. Ben David said. “The Vineyard at one time was connected to the Mainland, so things got here.”

Now that the snake has been photographed and documented, Mr. Ben David said he plans to bring it back to where it was found in Aquinnah.

“This animal, to me, is really a native Islander and he’s going back to his land.”