SO we continue our little photo tour of the snakes of southern Florida. Can you believe how many different species I saw in only a few evenings work (and I'm not finished yet)? This one really is a southern Floridian speciality - it doesn't extend very far north at all. Wikipedia refers to its range as from Tampa Bay, Florida south to Miami and northward along the Atlantic coast to the vicinity of Cape Canaveral. This is the Mangrove Salt Marsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii compressicauda). As a member of the genus Nerodia (which contains north america's common water snake species) this subspecies has the typical Nerodia face - big eyes and a hint of a grin where the mouth turns up. Its also a very variable species in terms of colour though both of the ones I came across shared this spectacular orange-brown.
These are quite chunky little snakes - pretty fat throughout and then suddenly tapering off. I think this one puffed itself up a little for my benefit too though.
As the names suggest this is a snake of brackish areas and I've only ever seen them in one particular spot. They're comfortable in the water and eat a lot of fish but will climb a little too. You can just make out a faint banding on this one's flank. Like many of america's lesser known non-venomous snakes, this is a fascinating little guy. There is another subspecies in Florida - the Atlantic Saltmarsh which is much rarer and very very restricted in range; other water snakes are far more common and we'll get to those.