Photo Credit: John D. Wilson
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Nerodia floridana
OTHER NAMES: Eastern Green Watersnake, Congo Water Snake, Florida water snake
STATUS: Peripheral and locally common in Southern Coastal Plain from Mobile Bay eastward in Baldwin County. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.
DESCRIPTION: This is a large and bulky animal, reaching lengths of over six feet. The patterning is relatively non-descript and the snake generally appears to be a uniform dark or dull green with the color becoming lighter on the snake’s sides. Dark bands may be visible on both the snake’s back and sides, particularly in younger snakes. This species is often mistaken for the cottonmouth, but the venomous pit viper has boxy and triangular shaped head. Scales are keeled.
DISTRIBUTION: Florida green watersnakes range throughout Florida, sometimes crossing over the border into Georgia. A disjunct population occurs in South Carolina. There is some question as to whether the species can be found in Alabama. Although it has been documented in the Perdido River, Alabama’s boundary with Florida, specimens within Alabama proper have been identified as the very similar western green Watersnake (Nerodia cylopion). Not known more than 48 kilometers (30 miles) inland from coastal areas, and susceptible to local extirpations from hurricanes.
HABITAT: Florida green watersnakes are highly aquatic and prefer still wetlands with a high density of aquatic vegetation. Similar in appearance to the Mississippi green water snake, but inhabits marshes and wet prairie habitats instead of forested wetlands.
FEEDING HABITS: Fish and frogs are the primary food items
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: This species is thought to breed in early spring and gives birth to live young. Litter sizes range widely but can include over 100 individuals. Further research is required to document the range of the species in Alabama and investigate the natural history differences between the species and N. cylopion noted in Mount.
Ashton, R. E., Jr. and P. S. Ashton. 1981. Handbook of reptiles and amphibians of Florida. Part 1. The snakes. Windward Publishing, Miami, Florida.
Ernst, C. H. and E. M. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D. C.
Gibbons, J. W. and M. E. Dorcas. 2004. North American Watersnakes: A Natural History. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK.
Mount, R. 1975. The Reptiles & Amphibians of Alabama. Auburn Printing Co., Auburn, AL.
AUTHOR: David A. Steen, Ph.D. Candidate, Auburn University