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Rainbow Snake (Farancia erythrogramma)



Rainbow Snake (Farancia erythrogramma)
Order: Squamata, Family: Colubridae

Nearctic: Because Farancia erythrogramma needs a hot, moist environment, it lives in the South Eastern United States. It can be found most often in South Carolina and Florida. Other states where F. erythrogramma can be found include Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia.



I. GEOGRAPHIC RANGE
  • Nearctic: Because Farancia erythrogramma needs a hot, moist environment, it lives in the South Eastern United States.
  • It can be found most often in South Carolina and Florida. Other states where F. erythrogramma can be found include Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia.
II. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
  • This snake has red, black and yellow stripes circling its body and takes on an iridescent sheen after shedding. Prior to shedding, the scales will turn a translucent blue, which obscures the coloring. There is sexual dimorphism: males tend to be more brilliantly colored than females. 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
III. 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.
IV. 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. The female will remain with the nest for a period of incubation until they are hatched
V. 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. Rarely will they bite.
VI. HABITAT
  • This snake can be found among its microhabitat of floating vegetation in freshwater streams or sometimes in the loose sand along riverbanks. It can also be found in swampy areas. Always, the area will be one in which the water moves constantly. Since it will only prey on eels, F. erythrogramma is limited to where the eels live. It is among the most aquatic of snakes in the South.
VII. CONSERVATION
  • Due to the reclusive nature of Farancia erythrogramma, little is known about it. Exact numbers are unknown.
VIII. 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.



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