Farancia erytrogrammaerytrogramma

Geographic Range

Farancia erytrogramma lives in southeastern North America. It can be found most often in South Carolina and Florida. Other states where F. erytrogramma can be found include Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia. (Conant and Collins, 1991)

Habitat

This snake can be found among floating vegetation in freshwater streams or sometimes in the loose sand along riverbanks (Carmichael and Williams 1991). It can also be found in swampy areas. Always, the area will be one in which the water moves constantly (Tennant 1997). It is among the most aquatic of snakes in the South. (Carmichael and Williams, 1991; Tennant, 1997)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • rivers and streams

Physical Description

This snake has red, black and yellow stripes circling its body and takes on an irridescent sheen after shedding. Prior to shedding, the scales will turn a translucent blue which obscures the coloring (Conant and Collins 1991). There is sexual dimorphism: males tend to be more brilliantly colored than females (Tennant 1997). Although F. erythrogramma has a Duvernoy's gland (associated with toxins), it is not a venomous snake. It can grow up to 5.5 feet (27 - 54 in. on average) in length and has smooth scales. F. erythrogramma also has pointed tail with which it was once believed to stab victims with; however, this is incorrect as it is a harmless snake.

Characteristic of the Colubrid Family, F. erythrogramma lacks a pelvic girdle, has no vestigial hind limbs and its left lung is much smaller than the right lung.

Young are 7.75 - 11 inches long at hatching

Reproduction

Very little is known about the courtship and mating behavior of Farancia erythrogramma. They do, however, create nests in which any where from 10 to 52 smooth, white eggs will be laid (Haast and Anderson 1981). The female will remain with the nest for a period of incubation until they are hatched (Tennant 1997).

Behavior

Farancia erythrogramma is a nocturnal animal and is, therefore, rarely if ever seen during daylight hours. Warmer days that are lower in pressure will cause them to extend their hours. They usually remain in a secluded, submerged crevice until they spot their prey. When caught, either by a human or otherwise, F. erythrogramma will act like the eels that they hunt and thrust at the attacker with their pointed tail, although it is harmless (Tennant 1997). Rarely will they bite (Conant and Collins 1991).

Food Habits

These snakes feed on eels. They have been known as eel moccasins. Adults will not eat anything else. Young, however, eat mostly tadpoles and occasionally small fish or frogs.

After catching an eel, F. erythrogramma will eat it out of the water head first (Tennant 1997).

Conservation Status

Due to the reclusive nature of Farancia erythrogramma, little is known about it. Exact numbers are unknown.

Other Comments

Farancia erythrogramma seminola (South Florida Rainbow Snake) is a subspecies which lives only in South Florida.

Because not much is known about F. erythrogramma, there are many myths and folk tales about it. It is sometimes called the "Hoop Snake" because people believed that it would hold its tail in its mouth and roll like a hoop after its victims and would stab its victims with its pointed tail. This, however, is false.

Information concerning the species varied widely. For this reason, any numerical reference (length, number of eggs, etc.) was taken from the lowest and the highest numbers among my sources.

Contributors

Rebecca Nickens (author), Cocoa Beach High School, Penny Mcdonald (editor), Cocoa Beach High School.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

riparian

Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

swamp

a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

References

Carmichael, P., W. Williams. 1991. Florida's Fabulous Reptiles and Amphibians. World Wide Publications.

Conant, R., J. Collins. 1991. Peterson Field Guide Series: Reptiles and Amphibians. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co..

Haast, W., R. Anderson. 1981. Complete Guide to Snakes of Florida. Miami: The Phoenix Publishing Co., Inc..

Tennant, A. 1997. A Field Guide to Snakes of Florida. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company.