Striped Crayfish Snake
Scientific name: Regina alleni (GARMAN 1874)
* Currently accepted name
* scientific names used through time
- Helicops alleni – GARMAN 1874
- Liodytes alleni – CONANT 1958
- Regina alleni – CONANT & COLLINS 1991
Description: Average adult size is 14-20 inches (35.5-50.8 cm), record is 26 inches (66 cm). Adults are glossy brown with three inconspicuous darker stripes, one along the center and one on each side of the back. The lower sides are yellowish-tan. The belly is normally uniform yellowish, but can be reddish-orange with a darker smudges to a well defined row of spots. The head appears small relative to the body. The scales are smooth, but keeled above the cloaca. There are 19 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juveniles are similar to adults.
A. 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 typically divided
Range: In Florida, the Striped Crayfish Snake occurs throughout the peninsula and into the eastern panhandle, it does not occur in the Florida Keys. Outside of Florida, it is found in southern Georgia.
Habitat: Commonly found in cypress strands, sawgrass prairies, swamps, canals, sphagnum bogs, and flooded stands of punk trees, Melaleuca quinquenervia.
Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Striped Crayfish Snake is highly aquatic and inhabits areas with dense vegetation such as hyacinth-choked waterways where it lives within the submerged roots. Here it finds its favorite prey, crayfish. This snake does not constrict its prey like many other species do, but rather it uses coils of its body to hold the prey while swallowing it alive. Juveniles may also feed on aquatic invertebrates such as dragonfly larvae. Breeding occurs in the spring; the young are born alive.
Comparison with other species: The Glossy Crayfish Snake (Regina rigida) lacks distinct striping and has a belly marked with 2 rows of brown half moons. Other Water Snakes (Nerodia sp.) lack dorsal striping.