8 Orange Snakes in Florida
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Florida covers more than 65,000 square miles, with 1,350 miles of coastline and a vast landscape. Although Florida is known for its sunny climate, it's a lot more diverse than you might think. There are a variety of habitats here – from rivers and swamps, to tropical rainforests, to stunning coral reefs. All of these rich habitats are teeming with life large and small. One of the animals that Florida is best known for, however, is the snake. Florida is home to more than 50 native species, six of which are venomous. Snakes are known for their wonderful colors and patterns, and one of the brightest colors we'll see is orange. Join us as we explore Florida's orange snakes!
Eastern rat snake
Although they are also known as ground rat snakes, eastern rat snakes are usually orange or yellow in color with four darker stripes on their body. The eastern rat snake is 36 to 72 inches long and is found east of the Apalachicola River and south as far as Key Largo. They prefer hardwood forests, farmlands, and swamps, and some even live in urban areas. However, they hibernate underground during the winter. Eastern rat snakes are non-venomous and usually flee when threatened. If they are cornered, they vibrate the tip of their tail, which makes a humming sound on the ground. Eastern rat snakes feed on birds, frogs, rodents, and lizards.
Named for the absence of markings on the abdomen, the flat-bellied water snake has a uniform reddish-orange to yellow color on its abdomen, neck, and lips. However, their upper sides are reddish brown, olive green or gray. Water snakes are 24 to 40 inches long and are usually found near permanent water sources. Their favorite habitats are lakes, rivers, floodplains and swamps. Water snakes are most active during the warm summer months, either swimming or basking on logs or rocks. Hibernates underground or under rocks in winter. Flat-bellied water snakes primarily eat fish, frogs, and salamanders. They often wait patiently in the water for prey to approach them, rather than actively hunting.
Oriental hognose snake
An unusual orange snake in Florida is the eastern hognose snake, which can vary widely in color and pattern depending on where they are located. Eastern hognose snakes can be orange, yellow, red, brown or black in color, although orange and yellow are more common in Florida. Most also have many irregularly shaped spots that are darker in color – usually brown or black. Eastern hognose snakes typically grow 20 to 33 inches long and prefer pine forests and forest edges with sandy soils. Loose soil is used for burrowing and spawning. Eastern hognose snakes are mildly venomous but harmless to humans. This is because they do not produce actual venom. Instead, they produce a milder substance from Duvernoy's glands that they use to subdue their prey (mainly toads). This is injected through their enlarged back teeth.
One of the most popular snakes is the corn snake, often kept as a pet. Corn snakes are 30 to 48 inches long and usually have an orange or orange-brown body with large red spots. They closely resemble venomous copperhead snakes, which often leads to them being killed as a result of misidentification. They are adaptable snakes but prefer habitats such as fields, forest clearings and farms. Corn snakes are also excellent climbers and are often found in trees. Corn snakes lay their eggs in warm, sheltered locations, after which the females abandon them entirely. Corn snakes' main diet is mice, and they are actually quite beneficial, as they keep the rodent population in check.
ring necked snake
Some of the most stunning snakes in Florida are the ring-necked snakes, named for the brightly colored rings around their necks. Ringnecked snakes are black on the back and sides, but their bellies are either red, yellow-orange, or even red at one end and gradually turn orange and yellow at the other end. Ring-necked snakes are highly adaptable and can live in a variety of different habitats. However, they prefer areas with lots of vegetation for them to hide in – such as woodlands or hillsides. When threatened, the ringnecked snake curls its tail tightly and lifts it off the ground to reveal its brightly colored belly as a warning. Ring-necked snakes are primarily nocturnal, although some are nocturnal, and they primarily eat slugs, earthworms, and salamanders.
One of the smallest orange snakes in Florida is the pine wood snake, which is only 10 to 13 inches long. The pine snake is orange-red to reddish-brown with a lighter stripe down the center of its back. They are found throughout most of the Florida peninsula, but not in the Florida Keys. Pine snakes like to live in areas with a lot of fallen leaves, such as pine forests and wet woodlands. They are nocturnal snakes that feed mainly on lizards, frogs and salamanders. Their natural predators include southern black snakes and king snakes, as well as birds and shrews.
red belly snake
Another small snake is the red-bellied snake, which is only 8 to 10 inches long. Although their name suggests they have a red belly, they often have a bright orange or even yellow belly. Their backs are reddish brown with a faint stripe on their backs, while their heads are black or dark brown. Redbellied snakes are extremely adaptable and live in many habitats, but they prefer areas with lots of foliage, rocks, or logs for them to take shelter underneath. Red-bellied snakes are nocturnal and their main diet is slugs and earthworms. They are neither poisonous nor aggressive.
Salt Marsh Snake
The last orange snake in Florida on the list is the Salt Marsh Snake. Salt marsh snakes are usually a rusty orange or brown color with four darker stripes on their body. However, a subspecies — known as the mangrove saltmarsh snake — occurs in Florida from Tampa Bay to Miami, and is often completely reddish-orange. Another subspecies – the Atlantic salt marsh snake – is classified as threatened. Salt marsh snakes live in tidal marshes, mudflats, mangroves, and where they burrow into the sand along the shoreline. They are nocturnal snakes and primarily eat small fish that are caught and eaten in shallow water. Predators include crabs and birds such as herons.
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about the author
For many years, I have been writing professionally, with an emphasis on animals and wildlife. I love spending time outdoors, and when I'm not writing I'll be found on a farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep and pigs.
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