Mud Snake

Saint Louis snake

The Mud Snake is a non-venomous snake which is found across many states in the south east of the United States, and their interesting colors do mean that they are quite easy to spot. One of the interesting myths around the Mud Snake (Farancia Abacura) is that it can put its tail in its own mouth and then roll after its prey like a hoop. Although this particular story is a fallacy, it is true that the Mud Snake does use its sharp tail to poke potential prey, which has led to it being dubbed the ‘stinging snake’ in some circles.

Appearance And Diet
The Mud Snake is fairly easy to identify when it is seen because it has a back which is mainly shiny black scales while the underside is a bright red, with streaks of red extending up the side of the snake’s body. In some areas of Florida, this bright red underbelly can have aspects of pink or white, but it is still very distinctive in its appearance. Most snakes will grow between three and a half feet and five feet in length, but the largest examples have been over seven feet in length. These snakes are also heavy bodied, meaning that they are not good climbers. These snakes are aquatic, and their diet is almost exclusively made up of amphiumas, a small slippery type of eel, but they can also eat salamanders, frogs and fish when they can catch them. They have strong curved teeth which are perfectly designed for hanging on to the slippery amphiumas while they kill them, and almost all of their hunting is done in the water where these snakes are most comfortable.

Behavior And Habitat
Although the myth of the ‘hoop snake’ is one which could lead people to think that the Mud Snake is aggressive, it is actually very docile when it does encounter people. Because it is a nocturnal snake, this actually happens relatively rarely, but the majority of sightings of the Mud Snake will be when it is crossing wet roads during a rainy period. One interesting aspect about the Mud Snake is that it has a sharp scale at the tip of its tail which it will use to prod potential prey that may use staying still as a defense mechanism. This species is to be found across much of the south east of the United States, and is likely to make its home in almost any freshwater habitat which has potential prey. This means it will often be found in rivers, marshes and cypress swamps, but can also make its home in drainage ditches. This snake shows a preference for habitats that have plenty of aquatic vegetation which will provide more cover and protection if available.

Reproduction And Growth Cycle
As with the vast majority of snakes the Mud Snake’s mating season happens in the spring, and they can often lay a large clutch of eggs in a pre-made nest in June or July. The Mud Snake is one of the rare snakes that will actually stay with the eggs after laying, and the female will stay with the eggs until they finally hatch in the early fall. The largest clutch of eggs that has been discovered was 104 eggs, but the majority are much smaller than this. When the young emerge from their eggs the bright red underbelly will often be even brighter and more obvious than it is among the adults. These young snakes are usually around nine inches long, and in some areas will actually stay in the nest until spring when they will emerge. There is little research that has been made about the lifespan of the mud snake, but some estimates suggest they can live between fifteen and twenty years in captivity.

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