Photo Credits: Roger Birkhead
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tantilla coronata
STATUS: Fairly common statewide, but thought to be declining. Low Conservation Concern.
DESCRIPTION: This is one of Alabama’s most diminutive snakes; they may only reach about 12 inches but are often considerably smaller. The body is unpatterned and may be peach, tan, or light brown. The head is black with a light collar. Scales are smooth.
DISTRIBUTION: As its name indicates, southeastern crowned snakes can be found in the southeastern United States, ranging from North Carolina west to Louisiana, with an isolated population in Kentucky. The species is generally absent from southern Georgia and peninsular Florida. Within Alabama, the species is likely present statewide with the possible exception of the southeastern corner.
HABITAT: Although they may be find in a variety of upland habitats throughout their range, they likely prefer forests with well-drained soils and lots of cover in Alabama. A ground-dwelling snake of dry woodland ridges and hillsides. Often found under rocks, logs, and in rotting stumps.
FEEDING HABITS: Southeastern crowned snakes feed primarily on soft bodied invertebrates, including worms and termites.
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: This is a highly fossorial snake, spending a considerable amount of time underground. Consequently, they are rarely observed incidentally but can be trapped in pitfall traps with some regularity. Turning over cover objects may occasionally reveal an individual. A frequent prey item of coral snakes, their small size makes them vulnerable to many different predators. Mating can take place throughout the year. Only a few eggs are produced by the females within each clutch.
Andrews, K. M.. and W. Gibbons. 2008. Southeastern crowned snake In Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia. J. B. Jensen, C. D. Camp, W. Gibbons, and M. J. Elliot (eds.). University of Georgia Press, Athens GA.
Ernst, C. H. and E. M. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D. C.
Mount, R. 1975. The Reptiles & Amphibians of Alabama. Auburn Printing Co., Auburn, AL. 347 pp.
AUTHOR: David A. Steen, Ph.D. Candidate, Auburn University