Have you crossed paths with a small black snake flashing a neon-red stomach? What species of snake is this? Some people are able to identify a snake immediately. However, this is a unique skill that requires not only knowing about many different types of snakes and their appearance but also knowing where they live. After all, a black snake with a red belly in Florida may not be the same species as a similar-looking snake in North Carolina.
While inspecting the snake you’ve found, you may also be wondering, “Is it poisonous?” (Nope! Though it’s a bit of a trick question. “Poisonous” refers to the toxicity of things we ingest, while “venomous” refers to toxins an animal releases, like snake venom). Okay, then; is it venomous? We’ll answer these and other exciting questions below!
Whether you’re looking to brush up on your snake identification skills or you’ve come across a dark snake sporting a bright orange-red underside, keep reading!
What Florida Snake Is Black With a Red Belly?
There are around 44 species of snake native to Florida. From the Everglades to the urban areas, there’s no shortage of unique ecosystems for these snakes to live in and thrive in.
However, there are only two species of black snakes with red bellies in Florida: the red-bellied snake and the black swamp snake.
1. Red-Bellied Snake
Known by the scientific name Storeria occipitomaculata, the red-bellied snake is probably the most obvious snake found in Florida that fits the description we gave, thanks to its common name. There are three different subspecies of the red-bellied snake:
- Florida redbelly snake (S. o. obscura)
- Northern redbelly snake (S. o. occipitomaculata)
- Black Hills redbelly snake (S. o. pahasapae).
The red-bellied snake is a small species of snake. They grow to be anywhere from 4 to 10 inches long. They have a black dorsal side and a bright red belly. However, their bellies may appear more orange than red.
Found only in North America, the red-bellied snake prefers to live in warmer climates, like Florida. They don’t typically travel far north, but their housing choice is quite interesting if they do. Because they struggle to burrow, they inhabit abandoned ant mounds, which provide them with a safe, warm shelter.
When you come across them in Florida, however, it’s more common to find them in woodland areas under logs and leaves. They’re shy and secretive, preferring to avoid people.
Because of their small size, red-bellied snakes hunt tiny critters, including snails, salamanders, earthworms, pill bugs, and slugs.
Is the Red-Bellied Snake Venomous?
Thankfully, the red-bellied snake isn’t venomous, and you don’t need to worry if you or your pet cross paths with this snake.
However, while the red-bellied snake isn’t venomous, it can still bite! This can be painful, and a bite from any animal can introduce dangerous bacteria. As a result, make sure to always be careful and mind your space if you spot this snake. Because they like to avoid people, they’ll most likely move away quickly.
2. Black Swamp Snake
The red-bellied snake isn’t the only black snake with a red belly in Florida. A snake fitting this description may also be the black swamp snake, also known as the red-bellied mud snake or the swamp snake. There are three subspecies of Liodytes pygaea:
- South Florida swamp snake, (L. p. cyclas)
- Carolina swamp snake (L. p. paludis)
- North Florida swamp snake (L. p. pygaea)
Although the black swamp snake is larger than the red-bellied snake, it is still a relatively small snake. On average, it only grows to be between 10 and 15 inches long. However, the largest on record grew to be almost 2 feet long at 22 inches! They have a black dorsal side and a bright red or orange belly, just like the red-bellied snake.
The black swamp snake can only be found in the southeastern United States. This is because they prefer to live in swampy areas with lots of plants that aren’t common in the rest of the country. The states that you can find them in include North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.
Although both species are secretive, you’re much less likely to come across a black swamp snake than a red-bellied snake. This is because the swamp snake is almost entirely aquatic and spends its time hiding in the thick vegetation of the swamps.
The black swamp snake eats a variety of aquatic and semiaquatic animals, including leeches, tadpoles, and small fish.
Is the Black Swamp Snake Venomous?
Thankfully, like the red-bellied snake, the black swamp snake is nonvenomous. Other than a potential to introduce bacteria and general pain, their bite is completely harmless to humans.
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