Monday, April 28, 2014

Florida Scarlet Snake and Other Florida Snakes

Living in Jacksonville, Florida, I have become more accustomed to finding snakes in my yard. I'm careful when I see one, but not as afraid of them as I used to be. Well, except for the large water moccasin that came through the backyard of my previous home! That was one big snake.

Florida Scarlet Snake aka Cemophora coccinea
Florida Scarlet Snake aka Cemophora coccinea
Photographed by JaguarJulie Ann Brady
It was around 8am this morning that I was out in my back yard picking up leaves and pulling weeds. I came around the side of my house to the A/C unit. The black tom cat was sitting on top resting. Under the tree to the right of the unit I spied the snake. It was the underbelly that I saw first.

Florida Scarlet Snake aka Cemophora coccinea
Florida Scarlet Snake aka Cemophora coccinea
Photographed by JaguarJulie Ann Brady
When I went to pick up the snake, that's when I turned it over to see the colorful body. As I'd never seen one of these snakes up close, I wasn't sure if this was a venomous snake. It surely didn't look alive, so I wasn't as worried as I might have been. I shot a few pictures and then came inside to Google it.

FLORIDA SCARLET SNAKE IDENTIFICATION

I came upon an excellent resource from the University of Florida, on the Florida Scarlet Snake. Quoting their snake comparison information as I couldn't of said it better myself:
The Scarlet Snake is often confused with the Scarlet Kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides) and Eastern Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius), but it is easy to distinguish between these three species look-alike species. The Scarlet Kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides) possesses colored rings that go entirely around its belly. The Eastern Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius) has a rounded black snout and its red rings touch its yellow rings.
To confirm that this was a Florida Scarlet Snake, I reached out to my ex who was a Science Teacher at Fletcher High School in Jacksonville Beach many years ago. He got back to me fairly quickly with his confirmation:
Based on the red tip pointy nose and the white underside it is a Scarlet Snake. The Scarlet King Snake has the color all around. Nice link in the article on telling the diff of those and the Coral Snake. Did the cats get him?
He graduated from the University of Florida, so I thought that was the perfect resource for identification of the snake.

WHAT ABOUT THIS SNAKE?

There are a lot of these snakes in Florida, but this is the first one I've ever seen in my twenty-some years! That's part of their nature; i.e., you don't usually see them because they have a secretive nature.
  • This snake lives mostly underground or under logs or tree bark.
  • It is nocturnal.
  • It eats other small snakes, or lizards, rodents, and reptile eggs which it enjoys sucking out the insides!
  • It is an egg-laying critter!
  • Breeding occurs during the months of March through June.
  • During the months of May through August, the female will lay 3-8 eggs. Gosh, I wonder where the rest of those snakes are??
  • Newborns are 5-6 inches long. This snake seems to be close to 8 inches. I wonder where the parents are??
Did you know that there are over 2,000 species of snakes? The Snake Almanac is a great resource for identifying snakes. Did you know that there is actually a snake that can fly? Or that there is a snake that plays dead rather like an opossum?

OTHER SNAKES I HAVE SEEN

My yard backs up to a drainage ditch and on the one side is a natural area that is like a little forest. I've seen more black racers zipping through my back yard then any other snake. In fact, I spotted this black racer snake actually racing across my back yard heading for the neighbor's yard.

Black Racer Snake ~ Jacksonville Florida
Black Racer Snake Photographed by JaguarJulie Ann Brady
Photo Taken: March 15, 2012
That's easily the largest of any black racers I have seen. Once in a while, I would see much smaller ones zipping down the side of my house. However, since I have done a lot of pruning of bushes around the sides of the house, I don't usually see these guys like I used to -- they've been hanging out at the neighbor's!

Less than two weeks after spotting that guy in my back yard, I came upon another snake in my front yard bushes.

Common Garter Snake ~ Jacksonville Florida
Common Garter Snake Photographed by JaguarJulie Ann Brady
Photo Taken: March 26, 2012
What's curious about that Common Garter Snake? I thought it was my hose! I actually have my garden hose rolled up near the area where I saw this guy. For a garter snake, I found it curious just how large and long this guy is! I took my picture and then left him alone.

WATER MOCCASIN!!!

It was around lunch time on a warm day in September 2010. In the back yard of my Deercreek Country Club home, I saw what looked like stake or post in the ground. I thought that was odd. When I went to take a second look, the post was gone ... but now I saw that it was indeed a large snake.

Water Moccasin Snake ~ Jacksonville Florida
Water Moccasin Snake Photographed by JaguarJulie Ann Brady
Photo Taken: September 21, 2010
It was a "snake in the grass" like no snake I had ever seen. I was feeding some of the cats from the feral colony on our back patio. As this water moccasin started to slither closer to the house, a couple of the cats were trying to challenge the snake! In particular, Tigger, one of the male tabby cats was the bravest. I got a broom and shooed the cats away from the snake.

Water Moccasin Snake ~ Jacksonville Florida
Water Moccasin Snake Photographed by JaguarJulie Ann Brady
Photo Taken: September 21, 2010
As the water moccasin lifted its head out of the grass, I believed he was sniffing out his next meal. Before he made it to the side of our house, he stopped and picked something up out of the grass.

Water Moccasin Snake ~ Jacksonville Florida
Water Moccasin Snake Photographed by JaguarJulie Ann Brady
Photo Taken: September 21, 2010
In the last photo that I snapped of the snake, it looked like he was pretty wide around the middle. Eventually, he continued on down the side of the house to a large hole under the bushes at the front of the house. Luckily, that was the last time I spotted that snake.

RED RAT SNAKE!

Talk about a colorful snake -- it is the red rat snake. He was a big one; or maybe it was a she. He headed up my Drake Chinese Elm tree in my front yard. How do you get rid of that red rat snake? Ah, I cut down that tree!!

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