Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A backyard snake

I often spot a brown water snake (Nerodia taxispilota) sunning itself close to the canal, but this is the first time I've seen one right in my backyard. I think it must have been searching for a nice warm paver since it's still relatively chilly. This one is a juvenile; adults are much longer, getting to five feet or more. It didn't move a jot while I was taking photos.

The fact that brown water snakes are completely harmless doesn't prevent them from routinely being beaten to death by frightened humans.

There are only six species of poisonous snakes in Florida:

  • Southern copperhead, only found in the Panhandle
  • Cottonmouth/Moccasin, found near or in water throughout the state
  • Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, found throughout the state, including the Keys
  • Timber rattlesnake, found in the northernmost counties
  • Dusky pigmy rattlesnake, found throughout Florida
  • Eastern coral snake, found from the northern Keys and north

The most common South Florida snakes, such as the black racer and ringneck, as well as the brown water snake, are harmless, but if you don't know your snakes, it's always a good idea to assume they can hurt you. That doesn't mean killing them; it means just steering clear. 

The University of Florida's Museum of Natural History provides good identification  information if you want to know more.


James Missier said...

You really know all about snakes in your place.
I for one, still puzzle to note the difference between the non-poisonous & deadly ones.
Tropical snakes don't look so docile as this, all of them are either hiding and when found - runs or strikes.

Penny McCrea said...

Believe me, if I hadn't known what this was, I wouldn't have gotten so close to it!