Other common names
Striped crayfish snake
Most adult striped swampsnakes are about 13-20 inches (33-51 cm) in total length. These small snakes are glossy brownish-yellow with three broad, dark stripes, one down the back and one along each side. The lower sides are yellowish-tan. The head appears small relative to the body, but the eyes are relatively large. The lip scales are yellow and contrast sharply with the brown color of the head. Juveniles are similar to adults.
Range in Florida
Striped swampsnakes occur throughout the Florida peninsula and into the extreme eastern Panhandle. They do not occur in the Florida Keys.
Assessment of risk to people and pets
Non-venomous. Striped swampsnakes are not dangerous to people or pets.
Comparison with other species
Glossy swampsnake (Liodytes rigida) Glossy swampsnakes are glossy brown to olive brown, with a faint dark stripe down the back and down each side. The scales on the body are keeled, and the belly is yellow or cream colored with two rows of small black half-moon-shaped markings.
Black swampsnake (Liodytes pygaea) Black swampsnakes are glossy black with bright red bellies
Most adult striped swampsnakes are about 13-20 inches (33-51 cm) in total length, with a record length recorded of 27.8 inches (70.5 cm). These small snakes are glossy brownish-yellow with three broad, dark stripes, one down the back and one along each side. The lower sides are yellowish-tan. The belly is typically yellowish and lacks a pattern, but it can be reddish orange with dark smudges or a well-defined row of spots. The scales on the body are smooth, and there are 19 scale rows at midbody. The head appears small relative to the body. The lip scales are yellow and contrast sharply with the brown color of the head. The eyes are relatively large, and the pupil is round. Juveniles are similar to adults.
Striped swampsnakes are highly aquatic and inhabit a variety of slow-moving waterways such as cypress strands, sawgrass prairies, swamps, canals, sphagnum bogs, and flooded stands of Melaleuca trees. These snakes prefer areas with dense vegetation such as hyacinth-choked waterways, where they live and hide within the submerged roots. These secretive snakes are rarely encountered away from water, but they can sometimes be found under logs or debris near water, in crayfish burrows, or crossing roads during or after heavy rains.
These snakes typically do not bite in defense. A captured snake may gape its mouth and sway its head and neck from side to side. It may also release foul-smelling musk from two glands in the base of the tail. Occasionally, these snakes will exhibit a death-feigning behavior, which involves becoming rigid and opening the mouth.
Striped swampsnakes are nocturnal (active at night) and feed primarily on crayfish, but they will also feed on aquatic salamanders, small frogs, tadpoles, glass shrimp, and the larvae of dragonflies and damselflies. These snakes do not constrict prey like many other species of snakes do, but rather they use coils of the body to hold the prey while swallowing it alive.
In Florida, females typically give live birth to 4-12 young in late spring and summer.
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.
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.
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