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Great time to identify garden snakes

By Staff | May 13, 2020

SCCF Southern ringneck snake

Staying safer at home has resulted in a more wildlife observations for many of us.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and other organizations have received a higher number of wildlife identification queries than usual, since people are spending more time outside walking around, weeding, trimming, gardening, and fixing up their yards.

“Many overlooked common species are now getting noticed,” Wildlife & Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz said. “While picking up debris around the backyard or working in the garden, some small common nonvenomous snakes may get noticed, especially this time of year when most species are breeding.”

The most common snake found in gardens in and around the islands is the southern ringneck snake. The small (6-10 inches) woodland snakes are gray to black in color, with a yellow ring around their necks. When threatened, they flip part of their body upside down and twist their tail in a corkscrew to show their bright yellow, orange or red underside, with its single row of misshaped circles running down the belly. These harmless snakes eat primarily earthworms and slugs.

Another somewhat common snake is the Florida brownsnake. The (7-10 inches) woodland species has a mostly brown body with a faint, grayish-tan vertebral stripe with segmented black borders down its back. It also has a lighter white-tan blotch on the top of its often-dark head. They mostly feed on earthworms and slugs, but will also prey upon very small frogs. They often take on a defensive pose when disturbed but are harmless.

SCCF Florida brownsnake

The most obscure species is the Brahminy blindsnake. The non-native species is the most widespread snake species in the world. It is considered pantropical, occurring throughout the tropics and subtropics around the world. The fossorial snake is native to Southeast Asia and was spread across the world due to the plant trade.

The very small (2.5-6.5 inches) and thin (5 millimeters in diameter) snakes closely resemble worms at a glance, but unlike earthworms they are vertebrates and have scales since they are reptiles. They are also called “flowerpot snakes” as they stowed passage around the world in the soil of potted plants. They are well established in Florida and are common in gardens and landscaping beds, and especially plant nurseries and garden centers. The snakes are all female and lay up to eight fertilized eggs in a year. They feed on very small invertebrates, such as the eggs and larvae of ants and termites.

If you have questions about identifying wildlife in your backyard, email photos to info@sccf.org and the SCCF’s scientists will help you out!

Source: Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation

SCCF Brahminy blindsnake