Taken May 18, 2014



Nerodia taxispilota

Adult size:  30-55 inches, record 69.5 inches

Range: Throughout Florida, except the Keys; So Alabama, north to SE Virginia

Habitat: rivers, cypress strands, sawgrass prairies, swamps, ponds, lakes, canals, in flooded strands of melaleuca

Habit:  Good climbers, can climb trees up to 20 feet high.  “When frightened by rapidly approaching boats will escape by jumping off limb into water.  Occasionally its attempts tto flee comes too late and they fall, not into the water, but into the boat.

Food:  fishes, frogs, carrion

Reproduction: live bearing, up to 60 recorded.  Newly born 7-11 inches. June-October.

How to distinguish brown water snake from venomous cottonmouth:  

1. Pupil of eye:  Cottonmouth — cannot see eyes from above, vertical pupils; brown water snake — can see pupils from above, round pupils.

2. Facial pit:  Cottonmouth — between nostril and eyes is a facial pit; brown water snake — no facial pit

3. While occasionally cottonmouths have been seen on shrubs and tress, they are less likely to be found there than the brown water snake.

Source:  Florida Museum of Natural History, UFl

From the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation fact page:  “The head of water snakes is narrow and pointed… Water snakes are harmless, nonvenomous native snakes that typically inhabit wet areas. … Brown water snakes are good climbers and often bask on tree limbs. ”  So, if a snake falls into your canoe from an over hanging  limb, don’t panic, it’s probably not venomous and probably as startled as you are.   The photographer, concentrating on getting a good shot of the primrose, was unaware of the snake,  until her companion calmly pointed out that there was a snake at the base of the plant as she inched her kayak closer to the plant, April 12, 2012.

In April and May 2013 while photographing flowers up close we sometimes found a snake on a nearby limb.   They do not move or try to escape rapidly and are well camouflaged.  But when we are investigating species along Womack Creek our kayak is being paddled quite slowly so as not to create too much disturbance and to be better able to see objects in and along the creek.