Other common names
Most adult southeastern crowned snakes are about 8-10 inches (20-26 cm) in total length. These small and thin snakes are tan to reddish brown with a black head. There is a light-colored band across the back of the head and a black band extending onto the back of the neck. Hatchlings are grayish in coloration and have darker heads than adults.
Southeastern crowned snakes are found in the Panhandle east to Leon County.
Assessment of risk to people and pets
Non-Venomous. Southeastern crowned snakes are not dangerous to people or pets even though they do produce a mild venom that is used for subduing prey. The venom is delivered by two slightly enlarged grooved teeth at the back of the upper jaw. However, these snakes are not aggressive and do not bite even in defense.
Comparison with other species
Adult southeastern crowned snakes are about 8-10 inches (20-26 cm) in total length, with a record length recorded of 13 inches (33 cm). These small and thin snakes are tan to reddish brown with a black head. There is a light-colored band across the back of the head and a black band 3-5 scales wide extending onto the back of the neck. The belly may be uniform white, yellow, or pinkish. The scales of the body are smooth and there are 15 scale rows at midbody. The eyes are small, and the pupil is round. Juveniles are grayish in coloration and have darker heads than adults.
Southeastern crowned snakes are typically found around sandhills, dry pine flatwoods, and hardwood hammocks. However, these secretive snakes often remain hidden beneath leaflitter, logs, rocks, or other surface cover. Adults and juveniles of this species can be found in suburban neighborhoods where development encroaches into favorable habitats.
If captured, southeastern crowned snakes may squirm and release foul-smelling musk from two glands in the base of the tail.
Southeastern crowned snakes are typically nocturnal (active at night) and feed primarily on invertebrates such as centipedes, beetle larvae, earthworms, snails, and spiders.
In Florida, females lay around 1-4 eggs, which likely hatch in the late summer and fall.
Southeastern crowned snakes are small and secretive snakes that are rarely seen unless they are disturbed from their hiding places during yardwork or heavy rains. Otherwise, they are typically found by actively searching for them under rocks, logs, or other surface cover.
County data coming soon.
If you have a new or interesting observation for this species, please email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum.
Ernst, C.H. and E.M. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. 668 pp.
Krysko, K.L., K.M. Enge, and P.E. Moler. 2019. Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, Florida. 706 pp.
Powell, R., R. Conant, and J.T. Collins. 2016. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston and New York. xiv + 494 pp.
Telford, S.R., Jr. 1966. Variation among the southeastern crowned snakes, genus Tantilla. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences 10: 261-304.
Share your observations
You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.
Additional helpful information
Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.
Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.