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 immediately identify a snake. 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 interesting 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.
About the Red-Bellied Snake
Known by the scientific name Storeria occipitomaculata, the red-bellied snake is probably the most obvious snake found in Florida fitting the above-mentioned description, 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 those of Florida. They don’t typically travel far north, but if they do, they’re choice of housing is quite interesting. Because they struggle to burrow, they inhabit abandoned ant mounds, which provide them 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.
About the 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.
- 10 Snakes in Florida
- Meet The Florida Snake Hunters That Have Killed More Than 1,000 Invasive Pythons
- 3 Invasive Snakes In Florida
Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda
Every day A-Z Animals sends out some of the most incredible facts in the world from our free newsletter. Want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a "snake island" where you're never more than 3 feet from danger, or a "monster" snake 5X larger than an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you'll start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.
More from A-Z Animals
The Featured Image
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.