Northern Scarlet Snake
Scientific name: Cemophora coccinea copei (JAN 1863)
* Currently accepted name
* scientific names used through time
- Coluber coccineus – BLUMENBACH 1788
- Rhinostoma coccineus – HOLBROOK 1842
- Simotes coccineus – DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854
- Cemophora coccinea copei – JAN 1863
- Cemophora coccinea – COPE 1888
Description: Average adult size is 14-20 inches (36-51 cm), record is 32.5 inches (82.8 cm). Adult color is a whitish-gray dorsal ground color with red blotches bordered by black. The head is red with a distinct light colored band just behind the eyes. The belly pattern is uniformly whitish-gray. The scales are smooth, and there are 19 dorsal scale rows at midbody. There are 7 scales on the upper lip, and the pupil is round. Juvenile color is like that of adults.
A. Top of the head (notice the large plate-like scales on the top of the head
B. Underside of the head (chin and throat)
C. Front (face view) of the head
D. Side of the head
E. Smooth scales
F. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are divided
Range: In Florida, it is found from around Marion Co. in the northern peninsula northwest to Oklahoma and northeast to southern New Jersey.
Habitat: Commonly found in pine flatwoods, dry prairies, hardwood hammocks, and sandhills.
Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous) The Florida scarlet snake is locally abundant, but rarely seen due to its secretive nature. It lives mostly underground, in or under logs, or burrowed under tree bark. It is nocturnal and sometimes seen after dark crossing roads.
It feeds on small snakes, lizards, rodents, and reptile eggs.
It lays eggs. Breeding occurs from March through June, and typically 3-8 eggs are laid from May through August. Newborns are 5-6 inches (12-15 cm) in length.
Comparison with other species: 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.