Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Rare Mangrove Snake

I came across this mangrove snake on Knight Island, Charlotte County, FL.  It is a dark phase (there is a reddish phase) with the classic and beautiful belly with a central row of white spots.  

This is a rarely seen, fish-eating,and harmless snake which is mainly nocturnal and limited primarily to salt water habitats.  A salt marsh form is found to the north and a fresh water relative (the banded water snake) inland.  It is quite unusual in being able to tolerate salt water, apparently without a salt gland.  It is a great example of coastal speciation just within the salt water fringe.  The mangrove buckeye butterfly is a similar case.

Bill Dunson

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