Black Swamp Snake, also known as Seminitrix Pygaea, is an endemic small aquatic snake found in the United States. These snakes belong to the subfamily of Natricinae of the family Colubridae. This scientific name comes from the Greek word pygaea, which means “fire-like” due to their unusual color.
There are three different types of these snakes:
- South Florida snake (Liodytes pygaea cycles)
- North Florida Swamp snakes (Lidodytes paygaea pygaea)
- Carolina Swamp Snakes (Liodytes pygaea paludis)
Black Swamp Snake Facts:
1. Physical Characteristics of Black Swamp Snakes:
Black Swamp Snakes are small aquatic snakes readily identifiable due to their red-colored bellies. Unlike many snake species, these swamp snakes are small. Their size ranges from 25cm-38 cm, including their tails. However, swamp snakes up to 55cm are also present. They are different from other aquatic snakes due to their pigmentation.
Sometimes these snakes are also mistaken for mud snakes. The quickest way to recognize them is their bright red or orange bellies with black markings on the edges. Similarly, they can be confused with terrestrial, red-bellied black snakes. However, their solid black dorsal color is their defining feature.
These snakes have shiny black dorsum, red belly, and scales throughout their bodies. Their size of heads and necks are the same, and they have small bodies. The newly born snakes are 11cm-14cm in length and can grow up to 55cm.
2. Male and Female Black Swamp Snakes:
Their colors may vary between terrestrial and aquatic environments. The bodies of female snakes are heavier and longer than males; however, male snakes have longer tails.
Black Swamp Snake is active in the aquatic environment both day and night. Their food consists of small fish, tadpoles, tiny frogs, salamanders, larvae, and leeches.
Generally, black swamp snakes are present in the southeastern coastal plain of the United States between Florida and North Carolina to Southern Alabama. Apart from the aquatic environment, these snakes have habitats near heavy vegetation ponds, roadside waterways, sawgrass lowlands and grasslands, and lakes.
Black swamp snakes prefer staying hidden and are rarely outside in their natural environment. However, herpetologists and people interested in knowing about these snakes can easily spot them in shallow water bodies in southern Florida.
In addition, they exist under wreckage along water bodies on bright sunny days. Although they are not lethal, they may bite if restrained. Furthermore, these snakes exhibit a unique ability to survive in extreme weather conditions such as droughts. Similarly, their recovery rate from deficiencies and associated risks is also higher.
4. Reproductive Characteristics of Black Swamp Snakes:
These snakes feed during pregnancy and transfer ingested energy into their offspring directly. This energy ingestion is one of their defining characteristics, as such behavior is unusual in snakes.
For this purpose, the population of black swamp snakes increases in the post-drought season as amphibian prey is abundant in their natural habitat, i.e., wetlands. In this way, their chances of survival are higher than any other aquatic species under certain circumstances.
During the breeding season (late summer), this species can give birth to up to twenty-three babies.
5. Is Black Swamp Snake a Threat To Others?
The Black swamp snakes are not a risk to people, pets, and other species. These snakes do not bite if approached but try to escape their surroundings. If captured, they release a rare foul smell from the glands at the base of their tails. Furthermore, these snakes are non-venomous (non-poisonous), and their bite is not lethal.
These unique aquatic species occur in the form of patches near wetlands and water bodies. Yet, these species are in danger. The associated risks from habitat destruction of wetlands due to global temperature rise, climate change, deforestation, and change in rainfall patterns are equally disturbing for these snakes.
In Southern Florida, introducing exotic fish species into their habitat can adversely impact their population. Due to these associated risks, the black swamp snake is under authoritative protection throughout Georgia.