Florida is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including six species of green snakes. These snakes come in various shades of green and can be found in different habitats throughout the state.
If you’re interested in learning more about these fascinating reptiles, read on to discover the unique features and characteristics of each species.
Rough Green Snake
Habitat: Known for its bright green color, the rough green snake is a slender, nonvenomous snake that can be found in a variety of habitats across Florida. This species is abundant in wooded areas, open fields, and wetlands, but they are also commonly found in residential areas.
Appearance: The rough green snake is a small and slender snake, with a bright green coloration on its back and sides. These snakes have smooth scales and can grow up to three feet long, although they are typically smaller. They are also known for their large eyes and tapered tails.
Diet: Rough green snakes are primarily insectivores, feeding on a wide range of insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, and spiders. These snakes are also known to eat snails and slugs.
Behavior: Rough green snakes are known for their calm and gentle disposition. They are nonaggressive and will rarely bite humans. When threatened, they will freeze their body and remain motionless.
Conservation Status: The rough green snake is not considered a threatened species, but it is still important to protect their habitat. Pesticides and habitat destruction pose significant threats to this species.
Eastern Garter Snake
Habitat: The eastern garter snake is a common snake species found throughout Florida, as well as much of North America. These snakes can thrive in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, wetlands, farmland, and even urban areas.
Appearance: The eastern garter snake is a relatively small and slender snake, reaching up to three feet in length. They have a distinctive color pattern of alternating light and dark stripes along the length of their body, with the colors varying from yellow to greenish-gray or brownish-black.
Diet: The diet of the eastern garter snake includes small amphibians, rodents, insects, and earthworms. They are also known to eat fish and other small aquatic animals.
Behavior: The eastern garter snake is a docile species that is often encountered in suburban backyards and gardens. They are nonvenomous and pose little threat to humans. When threatened, these snakes will release a foul-smelling musk to deter predators.
Conservation Status: The eastern garter snake is listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). While populations may be threatened in some areas by habitat loss and fragmentation, they are not considered at risk of extinction.
Mississippi Green Water Snake
Habitat: As their name suggests, Mississippi green water snakes are primarily found near bodies of water such as streams, rivers, lakes, and swamps. They are also known to inhabit marshes and other wetland habitats in Florida and other southeastern states.
Appearance: Mississippi green water snakes are a medium-sized species of snake, typically growing between 2-4 feet in length. They have a bright green color on their backs and sides, with a yellow or cream-colored underbelly. These snakes have keeled scales and a noticeably flattened head.
Diet: Mississippi green water snakes primarily feed on fish, but they are also known to eat amphibians and crayfish. They are active hunters, with the ability to swim and dive to catch their prey.
Behavior: Mississippi green water snakes are known to be docile and nonaggressive towards humans, but they will defend themselves if cornered or threatened. They are excellent swimmers and are known to bask in the sun on overhanging branches near the water’s edge.
Conservation Status: The Mississippi green water snake is not considered a threatened species, but it faces threats from habitat loss and degradation due to human activity. Wetlands and waterways must be protected to ensure that these snakes continue to thrive in their natural habitats.
Florida Ribbon Snake
Habitat: The Florida ribbon snake, also known as the southern ribbon snake, is a thin and agile snake that is often found near bodies of water such as streams, rivers, and wetlands. They can also be found in marshes, meadows, and open fields throughout Florida.
Appearance: Florida ribbon snakes have slender, elongated bodies with distinctive stripes that run vertically along their sides, similar to a ribbon. The background color can vary from gray to brown, while the stripes can be green or brown. These snakes typically grow up to 2 feet, making them the smallest of the ribbon snake species.
Diet: The Florida ribbon snake primarily feeds on small fish and tadpoles, but they are also known to eat other aquatic animals such as insects, froglets, and small crustaceans.
Behavior: Florida ribbon snakes are active during the daytime, and they are excellent swimmers and climbers. When threatened, they will often resort to swimming away, moving rapidly and gracefully through the water.
Conservation Status: The Florida ribbon snake is not considered a threatened species, but their populations have been impacted by habitat destruction and fragmentation. They are also sometimes caught as by-catch in fishing nets. Conservation efforts to protect wetland habitats are crucial for the survival of this species.
Plain-Bellied Water Snake
Habitat: The plain-bellied water snake is a nonvenomous snake that is often found in aquatic habitats such as swamps, ponds, and marshes. They are commonly found in Florida and other southeastern states and are the main prey species for many larger predators, such as birds and alligators.
Appearance: The plain-bellied water snake can range in color from greenish-gray to brownish-black, with a lighter-colored belly. They have distinctive scales that are keeled, giving them a rough texture. This species typically grows between 30-42 inches in length.
Diet: The plain-bellied water snake feeds primarily on fish, but they also eat frogs and tadpoles, snails, and crayfish.
Behavior: The plain-bellied water snake is an active hunter, and they will swim and dive to catch their prey. They are known to be aggressive if threatened, and they will release a foul-smelling musk to deter predators.
Conservation Status: The plain-bellied water snake is not considered a threatened species, but their populations have been impacted by habitat destruction and water pollution. It is important to protect wetland habitats and ensure clean water sources to maintain healthy populations of this species.
Florida Green Watersnake
Habitat: The Florida green watersnake is a nonvenomous snake species that can be found near bodies of water such as streams, rivers, swamps, and marshes throughout Florida. These snakes are primarily aquatic and require freshwater habitats to survive.
Appearance: The Florida green watersnake has a bright green or yellowish-green coloration on its back and sides, with a pale yellow or cream-colored belly. They have a relatively stout body, reaching up to four feet in length, with keeled scales and a distinctive longitudinal ridge running down the center of their dorsal scales.
Diet: Florida green watersnakes primarily feed on fish, frogs, and other aquatic prey such as crayfish and small turtles. They are active hunters and are skilled swimmers.
Behavior: Florida green watersnakes are nonvenomous and are mostly harmless to humans. However, they are known to bite if threatened or provoked. These snakes are primarily active during the daytime and are excellent swimmers.
Conservation Status: The Florida green watersnake is not considered a threatened species, but they are vulnerable to habitat destruction and water pollution. Wetland conservation efforts are crucial for the survival and abundance of this species.
Florida is home to a diverse array of snake species, including six types of green snakes. From the docile eastern garter snake to the agile southern ribbon snake, these snakes can be found throughout the state’s various habitats.
It is essential to protect their habitats and the environment from pollution, habitat destruction, and fragmentation. By doing so, we can ensure that these green snakes continue to thrive in their natural habitats for generations to come.