Southern Florida Rainbow Snake

NON-VENOMOUS

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Scientific name: Farancia erytrogramma seminola (NEILL 1964)
* Currently accepted name

Synonym:
* scientific names used through time

  • Coluber erytrogrammus – PALISSOT DE BEAUVOIS in LATREILLE 1802
  • Coluber erythrogrammus – DAUDIN 1803
  • Natrix erythrogrammus – MERREM 1820
  • Homalopsis erythrogrammus – BOIE 1827
  • Helicops erythrogrammus – WAGLER 1830
  • Abastor erythrogrammus – GRAY 1849
  • Callopisma erythrogramma – DUMÉRIL 1853
  • Homolopsis parviceps – BLYTH 1854: 301 (fide BAUER & DAS 1999)
  • Abastor erytrogrammus – THEOBALD 1868
  • Hydrops erythrogrammus – SCLATER 1891
  • Abastor erythrogramus – COCHRAN 1952 (fide LINER 2004)
  • Farancia erytrogramma seminola – NEILL 1964

Record size is 51.5 inches (130.8 cm). Adults are large and thick bodied. The back is iridescent blue-black with a red stripe or line of spots down the middle and an additional reddish-pink stripe on each side. Black spots and speckles occur on every belly scale and lower two rows of scales on side of body. These black markings invade and breakup the red and yellow areas on the belly, throat and chin. The chin is yellow. The tail tip ends in a pointed, horny scale. The scales are mostly smooth, except on the posterior back and sides where they are weekly keeled. There are 19 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juveniles are thought to be simlar in appearance to adults.

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A. Top of the head
B. Underside of the head (chin and throat)
C. Front (face view) of the head
D. Smooth scales
E. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are typically divided
F. Side of the head

Range: In Florida, this Rainbow Snake is known only from a single population in Fish Eating Creek, Glades County, flowing into the western side of Lake Okeechobee, in the southern peninsula.

Habitat: It is very rare or possibly extinct. It has only been found in creeks, but it is believed it may also inhabit areas similar to other Rainbow Snakes.

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Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). Virtually nothing is known about this snake, but it is believed its life history is simlar to that of other Rainbow Snakes.

The Southern Florida Rainbow Snake is one of the rarest snakes in the United States. Only 3 specimens have been found, between 1949 and 1952. The color photographs above were taken of the only known available specimen, the holotype, which is secured in the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida. Please note that this snake has both red stripes and belly in real life. However, in the photographs above the red pigment (which now appears yellowish) has faded from being preserved over the years. Additionally, at the time of its original description, two other snakes were collected and designated as paratypes, but they appear to have been lost and/or never deposited in a recognized systematic collection. Several searches have been made for Southern Florida Rainbow Snake since the 1950s, but all were unsuccessful.

Comparison with other species: Mud Snakes (Farancia abacura) and Swamp Snakes (Seminatrix pygaea) lack the Rainbow Snake's reddish-pink dorsal stripes.