Saltmarsh Snake

Scientific Name
Nerodia clarkii
Also Known As
Saltmarsh Snake
The Coasts of Florida
Life Expectancy
9 Years
The Saltmarsh Snake

Photo 41134320 © Janson Jones, CC BY-NC

Eastern Coral Snake conservation status - Least Concern

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This Snake is Not Venomous

Saltmarsh Snakes in Central Florida

The saltmarsh snake (Nerodia clarkii) is a semiaquatic colubrid species that inhabits coastal wetlands and marshy areas of the southeastern United States. In Florida, saltmarsh snakes are found along both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

This article provides detailed identification tips, biology facts, and information on saltmarsh snake habits and distribution within central Florida.

Saltmarsh Snake Subspecies in Central Florida

Mangrove Saltmarsh Snake

Mangrove Saltmarsh Snake

The mangrove saltmarsh snake (Nerodia clarkii ssp. compressicauda) is a special subspecies of the saltmarsh snake found only in mangrove swamps along the southern Florida coast. Genetic testing shows the mangrove snakes are isolated and have evolved differently, which is why they are considered a separate subspecies.

Mangrove saltmarsh snakes are smaller, around 20-28 inches long, compared to their northern relatives. They also have a darker color and more strongly ridged scales. Living only in mangroves, their smaller size and different scales seem adapted to that habitat.

Protecting the fragile mangrove ecosystems is crucial for the mangrove snake’s survival, since they are already declining from wetland loss. Calling them a distinct subspecies highlights the need to protect their mangrove home in southern Florida.

Atlantic Saltmarsh Snake

Atlantic Saltmarsh Snake

The Atlantic saltmarsh snake (Nerodia clarkii ssp. taeniata) is another subspecies of the saltmarsh snake found along the Atlantic coast and inland wetlands. Genetic evidence indicates Atlantic saltmarsh snakes split off long ago from other populations.

They prefer freshwater habitats over saltwater marshes. Atlantic saltmarsh snakes grow over 3 feet long and have weak lateral blotches compared to other subspecies. They also have a lighter color that blends into grassy marshes.

The Atlantic subspecies is adapted to hunting in vegetated freshwater wetlands versus muddy salt flats. Loss of inland wetlands has reduced their numbers.

Appearance and Identification

The Saltmarsh Snake can be distinguished from look-alike species by the following characteristics