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There are over 3,000 species of snakes in the world, of which over 85% of the snakes are non-venomous.
Snakes are limbless reptiles that are found in almost all parts of the world except Antarctica, Iceland, Ireland, Greenland, and New Zealand. Florida is one of the places with several native snakes.
It has over 50 native snake species. This article focuses on a type of water snake, the Florida watersnake. The Florida watersnake (Nerodia fasciata pictiventris) is a species of southern watersnake (Nerodia fasciata). Florida water snakes live in a variety of aquatic habitats like marshes, ponds, and ditches.
They are common in the southern and eastern parts of the United States and Canada. These snakes come in a wide range of colors, including dark brown, light brown, and yellowish-brown. These snakes are easily identifiable as they have dark and light bands all over their bodies.
Florida has a vast supply of surface water and groundwater resources. 18.5% of Florida's total area is covered by water. The rich water sources and subtropical climate make Florida one of the best habitats for water snakes. The most common species of watersnakes in Florida are the Florida green watersnake, southern watersnake, saltmarsh watersnake and eastern green watersnake.
Florida is home to different species of water snakes. However, only eight water snake species, all of which are harmless, are spotted often. Water snakes, based on the type, occupy different kinds of water sources. Freshwater areas are partially occupied by Florida-banded water snakes. Wetlands, prairies, estuaries, and other freshwater sources act as habitats for Florida green watersnakes. They are also present in areas with thick vegetation. Not all water snakes are found in or around water sources. Some species, like the Plain-bellied watersnake, are found in woodlands where water is sparse, and others, like the Florida brown water snakes, are found on trees.
Water snakes, in general, are not poisonous.
So, no, Florida watersnakes are not poisonous. Venomous snakes have glands called the 'oral gland'. This gland produces venom. They use their fangs to inject the venom. The Florida watersnake neither has oral glands nor fangs. But they can deliver a painful bite.
What's the difference between a watersnake and a water moccasin?
In Florida, watersnakes (Nerodia) are frequently mistaken for water moccasins (Agkistrodon piscivorus). This occurs because they have a similar appearance. However, there are a number of characteristics that distinguish them.
The length of a watersnake can be 4 ft (1.2 m) or above. Watersnakes weigh between 5.2-14.3 oz (150-408 g). The length of adult water moccasins can be 26-35 in (65-90 cm). Their weight is 10.3-20.44 oz (292.5-579.6 g). Members of the Nerodia genus are viviparous. Water moccasins are oviparous.
The watersnake belongs to the Colubridae family. There are over 200 watersnake species and several subspecies in the world. The water moccasin also called the cottonmouth, belongs to the Viperidae family. There are only two species of a water moccasin. They do not have any subspecies.
The phrase 'water snake' refers to a group of non-venomous snakes belonging to the Nerodia genus. The water moccasin is a type of pit viper that belongs to the Viperidae family. This snake, also known as the cottonmouth, is one of the six venomous snakes found in Florida. There are several species of watersnakes and cottonmouths in Florida. The characteristics of each species differ greatly, but they share a few traits that make it possible to broadly categorize them.
The coloration and markings of watersnakes are mostly brown, gray, olive green, or reddish. Water mocassins come in a wide range of colors. The coloration and markings are usually brown and yellow or brown and black.
Almost all venomous snakes have triangle-shaped heads, and the cottonmouth is no exception. The head of this snake is remarkably distinct from its neck region. It has an enormous head supported by a sturdy neck and a heavy body. The cottonmouth, or water moccasin, has long, pointed, and powerful fangs. A watersnake has the polar opposite features. The watersnake has a wide, flat, round head. Since it is non-venomous, it has no fangs. The head of this snake is proportionate to its neck.
Water moccasins have distinct dark eye stripes. These markings may or may not be present in water snakes. A watersnake has spherical pupils, whereas a water moccasin has oval pupils.
The heat sensor is the next distinction between the two snakes. When it comes to differentiating a water snake from a cottonmouth, this is one of the least useful characteristics, because you can only see the difference if you are really close to the snake. Heat sensors are nothing but pits that are present on either side of the head of a cottonmouth. It is located in between the eyes and nostrils, allowing the snake to detect the movements of its prey by sensing heat. These pits are absent in a water snake as it tracks down its prey using vibrations and the sense of sight.
These two snakes have vastly different lifespans. Water moccasins or cottonmouths may survive in captivity for 20 years or more, but water snakes can only live for 9-10 years. Cottonmouths have a life expectancy of less than a year in the wild, while the lifespan of water snakes in the wild is unknown.
A bite from the venomous water mocassin can cause a series of symptoms, including vomiting, difficulty breathing, numbness, skin discoloration, and reduced pressure. The chances of dying from a cottonmouth bite are nearly zero, however, these venomous snakes are quite dangerous. Water snakes, on the other hand, despite being non-venomous, can deliver a painful bite. Since they lack fangs, the bite marks are uniform.
Non-venomous water snakes can mimic venomous cottonmouths by flattening their heads. They do this to give the impression that they are venomous snakes, which helps to keep predators at bay. However, this behavior may not always work in their favor. Floridians kill several water snakes each year as they are unable to tell the difference between cottonmouths and water snakes.
Snakes are carnivores. The diet of snakes differs from species to species. Their diet depends on multiple factors like habitat, size, and the availability of prey. Some snakes prefer warm-blooded animals like birds and rabbits, while others feed on cold-blooded species.
The Florida water snake is also called the southern water snake. They are harmless snakes that are aquatic or semiaquatic. Hence, they feed on amphibians and fish. Juvenile southern water snakes are very picky. Until they reach six months, they only eat fish. Adults are opportunistic hunters. The Florida snake is also a piscivore. So, its diet includes worms from time to time. A major part of the diet of a southern water snake is made up of frogs. This frog lover is typically active at night. The southern water snake does not constrict its prey like most other snakes. Instead, it uses the force of its jaws to kill its prey. It eats other small snakes that are found near its habitat.
Both of these snakes are quite similar to each other. Both these snakes have similar darker brown crossbands and blotches from head to tail. They inhabit aquatic habitats and feed on fish and frogs. In order to tell them apart, you need to pay attention to the minute details.
The Florida water snake (Nerodia fasciata pictiventris) is a subspecies of the southern water snake (Nerodia fasciata). It is endemic to Southeastern Georgia and Florida. Adults are 24-42 in (60.9-106.6 cm) long.
Florida water snakes also have a thick body but can easily be differentiated from banded water snakes by the color of their bands. These snakes come in a wide range of colors but are mostly light brown or yellowish. The upper side of the Florida water snake is yellow or brown with darker brown, or reddish-brown, or black crossbands. The underparts are yellow, tan, or white. Black markings are also found on the underside. Alternating blotches are seen in adults when the yellow or white lower side is darker when compared to the cross bands. The markings on the underside of a Florida water snake have transverse blotches. These markings generally encircle a white and oval mark.
Florida water snakes are mainly found in salt marshes, dry upland areas, or coastal mangroves. You can also spot them in rivers and ponds. Females give birth to 25–57 offspring. Juveniles are 7-8.8 in (17.7-22.3 cm) long. They mate in the months between March and May. They typically flee the area when they sense danger. Both the adults and juveniles of this species will create a buzzing noise using their tails before they attack. Florida water snakes only attack when they are cornered. The coloration on the body of the juvenile Florida water snake is much similar to that of the adults but is more vivid.
The banded water snake (Nerodia fasciata) or southern water snake is a non-venomous colubrid snake. The southern water snake is endemic to Indiana, South Louisiana, and East Florida. Adults are 24-42 in (61-107 cm) long. The southern water snake also comes in a wide range of colors but is typically reddish-brown or gray-brown. Banded water snakes have thick bodies with darker crossbands of varying colors, mostly black, brown, and reddish-brown. Tan and gray are the colors of the lighter crossbands. Adults have uniformly black bands. Gray, yellow, and tan are the colors of the skin. Southern water snakes have markings on their undersides. They have solid, square-shaped blotches and dark stripes running from the eye to the jaw. The head of the southern water snake is flat. It inhabits all freshwater sources but has a liking for shallow water sources, such as marshes, ponds, rivers, and lakes. Females give birth to 9-50 offspring. Newborn southern water snakes are 8-9.5 in (20.3-24.1 cm) long. The banded water snake is neither aggressive nor friendly. It tends to avoid human contact. The coloration of the juvenile snake is usually dark and much clearer.
Male water snakes typically mate with one female throughout the year.
Both cottonmouths and water snakes are known for their aggressive natures. They will typically attack a person when they feel threatened.
All water snakes give out a musky secretion when they sense danger or when they are about to attack. This foul-smelling secretion is formed by the cloacal scent glands which are present at the base of their tail.
Water moccasins get the name 'cottonmouth' as the parts within their mouth are soft and white which resemble cotton.
They spend most of their time in the water. They can stay underwater for 10 minutes. Based on the weather, these snakes can also stay away from water for several weeks.
In most water snake species, females have a slender body when compared to males and are smaller than males.
The Florida water snake leads a solitary life. This species only comes together during hibernation. When they are hibernating, they live in groups with more than 100 members.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Florida water snakes, then why not take a look at snakes in England, or banded snake facts.
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