Gulf Crayfish Snake
Scientific name: Regina rigida sinicola (HUHEEY 1959)
* Currently accepted name
* scientific names used through time
- Coluber rigidus – SAY 1825
- Tropidonotus rigidus – HOLBROOK 1842
- Regina rigida – BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
- Tropidonotus leberis, var. rigidus – JAN 1865
- Natrix rigida – COPE 1892
- Natrix rigida sinicola – HUHEEY 1959
- Regina rigida sinicola – CONANT & COLLINS 1991
Description: Average adult size is 20 inches (50.8 cm), record is 31.5 inches (80 cm). Adults are glossy chocolate brown, there may be a faint darker stripe on each side of the body. The extreme lower sides are yellowish-tan. The throat is yellow and unpatterned. The belly is yellowish with two rows of black spots, but a single row exists near the head and tail. The scales are keeled and there are 19 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juvenile color is similar to that of 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 Gulf Crayfish Snake occurs in the western panhandle. Outside of Florida, it occurs from southern Georgia to eastern Texas.
Habitat: Uncommon, found in cypress strands, sloughs, sphagnum bogs, swamps, creeks, streams, ponds, prairies, and ditches.
Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Gulf Crayfish Snake is aquatic. It is mainly nocturnal and is occasionally found crossing roads after heavy rains. It is mostly active from March-November. Adults feed primarily on crayfish, fishes, sirens, frogs, and salamanders. Juveniles may also feed on aquatic invertebrates such as dragonfly larvae. It is live-bearing. Newborns measuring between 7-8.5 inches (17.7-21.5 cm) have been reported.
Comparison with other species: The Striped Crayfish Snake (Regina alleni) has an unpatterned belly and smooth scales. The Glossy crayfish snake (Regina rigida rigida) has faint, dusky stripes on the sides of the throat. The Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata) has four stripes on the belly.