Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Snakes: Hognose Garter, Ribbon Coachwhips
eastern coachwhip snakeEastern Coachwhip Snake- The Eastern Coachwhip is one of the largest snakes in North America, averaging between 50-72 inches as an adult. Coachwhips are long and slender, and typically have a black head and neck, which gradually fades to tan posteriorly. The belly color matches that of the back. Some eastern coachwhips may be uniformly tan or cream colored, lacking the dark pigmentation on the head. This snake's head is large and angular, with large eyes shielded by projecting scales. The Eastern Coachwhip Snake is  found throughout Florida, excluding the keys. Outside of Florida, it is found from Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, east to North Carolina. Coachwhips are active during the day, are extremely fast on the ground, and are great climbers. Its diet consists of lizards, small mammals, and birds.

eastern hognose snakeEastern Hognose Snake- Adult Eastern Hognose Snakes are usually about 30 inches in length. These snakes have patterns of varying colors, including blacks, grays, browns, yellows, and oranges. There is also a black phase. In black phased specimens, the pattern can be seen in grays in the juveniles, but soon turns to plain black. Black phase specimens have apparently become more common in recent decades. This snake is one of the world's most interesting species and best animal actors. When confronted, the eastern hognose's first defense is an aggressive display in which it spreads its neck horizontally, inflates its body, hisses loudly, and strikes. The Hognose principally eat toads. It hunts them in the toads' burrows during the day, using its upturned nose to root them out.

southern hognose snakeSouthern Hognose Snake- Southern hognose snakes are fairly small, heavy-bodied snakes that reach about 24 inches in length. These snakes are easily distinguished from most snakes in our region by their pointed, upturned snouts. Unlike eastern hognose snakes, which occur in several color patterns, southern hognose snakes are always gray, tan, or reddish in color with a series of dark brown blotches down the center of the back and alternating smaller blotches along the sides. Southern Hognose snakes were historically found in the Coastal Plain of the eastern United States from southern North Carolina to southern Mississippi and in most parts of Florida. Hognose snakes feed almost exclusively on toads, although they will occasionally consume other prey. They seem to be immune to poisons produced by toads, and are equipped with enlarged teeth (called rear fangs) in the back of their mouths that are used to puncture inflated toads so that they may be more easily swallowed.

bluestripe garter snakeBluestripe Garter Snake- The Bluestripe Garter Snake occurs along the Florida Gulf coast from eastern Wakulla Co. in the panhandle south to Hernando Co. in the central peninsula. It is not found outside of Florida. This adult snake averages between 20- 26 inches, with the state record being 39.25 inches. Bluestripe garters are olive brown to a blue-black color and have a light blue mid-dorsal stripe.  The bluestripe garter snake is terrestrial and active during the day. It is frequently found along the banks of canals and ditches, and around houses in residential areas. After heavy rains, it is sometimes found at night crossing roads in search of food. It feeds on earthworms, small fishes, frogs, and salamanders. Bluestripe garter snakes bear live young.

eastern garter snakeEastern Garter Snake- The Eastern Garter Snake is one of our most common snakes. It grows up to four feet long. It's color patterns can vary, but it almost always has three yellow stripes. Usually there is a checkerboard pattern of dark spots between the stripes. Garter snakes have many types of prey, including: frogs, toads, salamanders, earthworms, small fish, tadpoles, mice, bird eggs, slugs, crayfish, leeches, insects, and small snakes. These snakes are usually found near water or moist places, including marshes, streams, damp woods, wet meadows, parks, gardens, weed patches, farms, and forest edges. Garter snakes are good swimmers, but are not as good at climbing as some other snakes. They spend most of their time on the ground or in low shrubs and other plants. If attacked, a garter snake will release a bad-smelling odor. They also bite.

Florida ribbon snakeRibbon Snake- The Eastern Ribbon Snake is a very thin-bodied snake 18 to 34 inches in length. Similar to the garter snakes, this snake has three light colored stripes on a dark brown or black background. Each side strip is bordered below by a brown stripe. Unlike all garter snakes, the labial scales around the mouth of the ribbon snake are unmarked and uniformly bright yellow or white in color. The eyes of the ribbon snake are bordered in the front by a white or light-yellow bar. Ribbon snakes can be found along the edges of streams, lakes, ponds, and marshes. Their diet consists primarily of frogs and salamanders, which they actively stalk and pursue.
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