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Reptiles and Amphibians of Florida

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On this Page - Eastern Garter Snake, Eastern Ribbon Snake, Southern Black Racer, Florida Rough Green Snake, Yellow Rat Snake, Eastern Corn Snake, Florida Banded Water Snake

Non-Venomous Snakes

Click any image for a larger version

Eastern Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

An Eastern Garter snake basking on rocks.

A non-venomous , beneficial snake found throughout most of Florida, the Eastern Garter snakes range extends from Texas to Canada, it is absent from several Florida Gulf coast counties & the Keys. Average adult size is from 20 to 30 inches, the record is just over four feet.

Garter snakes are famous for their "aggregating" where a mass of male and females gather together in the fall to hibernate for the winter and mating the following spring.

Garter snakes vary somewhat in their coloration, generally it is three light stripes on a dark background, the strips may be yellowish, bluish or brown. Between the center stripe and the two side stripes are alternating black spots in a checkerboard pattern.

Habit and Habitat - The Eastern Garter snake can be found in backyards, bottomland forest, stream and pond banks and in open fields,. They are most active during the day but do come out at night, especially after a heavy rain when the earthworms and amphibians that make up their diet are active.

Eastern Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis sauritus sauritus

Non-venomous, the Eastern Ribbon snake is a very close relative to the Eastern Garter snake and is very similar in appearance. Ribbon snakes are a slimmer bodied snake, 18-26 inches long, has a definite white spot just at the front of its eye socket and has white "lips", whereas the Garter snake has no white eye spot and has black lips.

Ribbon snakes have three light colored to yellow lateral stripes, one on the back and one on each side set against a dark background. Between each side stripe and the light yellow belly there is a brown lateral stripe.

Habit and Habitat - The Eastern Ribbon snake is one of four sub-species of Ribbon snake in the United States, three are found in Florida. This semi-aquatic native snake can be found in and around lakes, bogs and marshes where it preys on small fish and amphibians.

Southern Black Racer - Coluber constrictor priapus

Southern Black Racer snakes are good climbers Close up picture of a Southern black racer snake.

A very common non-venomous snake is the Black Racer, it is found throughout Florida. These harmless snakes are frequent backyard visitors in most urban areas. A very nervous disposition means this snake will flee if approached by humans but will try to bite if cornered, the teeth are very small but can cut.

Adults range in size from 20 inches to just under 5 feet, the record is 72 inches. One of three sub-species of Black Racer this snake has a solid black back with smooth scales, white chin and reddish to orange-brown irises. Juvenile is grey with reddish brown splotches blending into a solid reddish tail.

Habit and Habitat - Found throughout Florida and the Florida Keys, this snake can be seen in Pineland, Dry Prairie, Sandhill, Scrub and Cypress strands and domes, Hardwood and Sabal Palm Hammocks. Black Racers are good climbers and swimmers and move fast on land. Diet consists of frogs, lizards, small snakes, rodents, birds and their eggs.

Florida Rough Green Snake - Opheodrys aestivus aestivus

Non-venomous. This is the only native slender bodied, bright green snake in Florida. Bright green on the dorsal side and creamy white to pale yellow underneath, belly color extends to the lower jaw and upper lip.

Adult length is 22-32 inches. this snake is arboreal and spends most of the time in shrubs and trees foraging for the insects that make up its diet, Florida Rough Green snakes tend to freeze when approached , this makes them difficult to distinguish among the vegetation.

This snake can be found Hardwood and Bottomland forests, Coastal Scrub and Maritime forest and Hammocks on the east coast.

Yellow Rat Snake - Pantherophis alleghaniensis

This Yellow Rat Snake is begining to shed its skin. The Yellow Rat Snake in a Mangrove tree.

Non-venomous. Adult Yellow Rat Snakes average between 36 and 72 inches long, the record is 90 inches. Juveniles are gray with pattern of dark brownish blotches. Color is variable in adults from gray to yellow-orange, with four darker lateral stripes on the back and sides, adults may retain some of the darker blotchiness of the juvenile.

The Yellow Rat Snake can be found in a variety of habitats, including Pinelands, Mangrove and Cypress swamps, Prairies, Bottomland forests and Hammocks. This snake is mainly nocturnal and is a burrower as well as a good climber. Diet consists largely of rodents supplemented with small birds, bird eggs, lizards, frogs and toads. 

Eastern Corn Snake, Red Rat Snake - Pantherophis guttatus

Juvenile Corn snake. Corn snakes are excellent climbers. Close-up photo of Corn snake, also known as a Red rat snake.

Non-venomous. The Eastern corn snake is found throughout Florida, average adult is 20-40 inches long, record is 72 inches. Adults are a orange-brown color with blotches of brownish orange to red with black borders. Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults.

The Eastern Corn Snake is also called the Red Rat Snake and like its cousin the Yellow Rat Snake it is both a burrower and a good climber.

Primarily nocturnal in habit, the Red Rat Snake feeds on rodents, amphibians, birds and eggs. This snake can be found in Pinelands, Hammocks, Swamps, farm lands and urban areas.

Florida Banded Water Snake - Nerodia fasciata pictiventris

Swimming Florida Banded Water Snake Florida Banded Water Snake on land in a defensive posture. Florida Banded Water Snake hiding under floating leaves.

Non-venomous. One of four species of Water snake in Florida, the Florida Banded Water snake is a thick bodied snake with an adult size of 24-42 inches.

Body has broad black, brown or reddish crossbands separated by lighter bands of tan, grey or reddish brown, there is a dark stripe extending from the eye to the corner of the jaw.  Although this snake is not venomous it is capable of delivering a nasty bite, and it will bite aggressively when cornered, it also exudes a foul smelling musk when agitated.

The Florida Banded Water Snake is found throughout the peninsula except for the Keys. This common snake can be found in all fresh water bodies of water, swamps and marshes. Mainly a nocturnal snake, diet includes fish, frogs and other freshwater amphibians and crustaceans.

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