- Federal Status: Threatened
- FL Status: Federally-designated Threatened
- FNAI Ranks: G4T1/S1 (Globally: Apparently Secure, Sub sp. Critically Imperiled/ State: Imperiled
- IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
The Atlantic salt marsh snake can reach a length of 24 inches (61 centimeters) (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001). Atlantic salt marsh snakes have a grayish-tan dorsum (back) that has dark brown and tan stripes running vertically down it and a reddish-brown belly with yellow spots along the central row of the belly, and 21-23 rows of keeled scales (Florida Museum of Natural History, n.d, Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).
The diet of the Atlantic salt marsh snake primarily consists of small fish, but they may also eat crabs and shrimp (Florida Museum of Natural History, n.d.).
Little is known about the reproduction of the Atlantic salt marsh snake. Females give birth in summer and early fall (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001). In captivity, a female gave birth to nine young in late August, and another captive female gave birth to three in October (Kochman 1992). Females are viviparous (live-bearing) (Florida Museum of Natural History, n.d.).
In Florida, Atlantic salt marsh snakes inhabit saltmarsh tidal flats that contain grasses such as glasswort (Salicornia), Spartina, and Juncus, as well as scattered black mangroves (Florida Museum of Natural History, n.d.). Atlantic salt marsh snakes can be found in Volusia and Indian River counties along the Florida Atlantic Coast (Florida Museum of Natural History, n.d.)
Habitat loss and degradation have been the biggest threats to the Atlantic salt marsh snake. Habitat loss occurs from excessive filling and development in salt marshes (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 1999). Alteration of the salt marsh by diking and impounding can encourage hybridization with the banded water snake, which could cause the Atlantic salt marsh snake to lose its genetic identity (Kochman 1992). Pesticides and oil spills could also be potential threats to the species (Hammerson 2007).
Conservation and Management
The Atlantic salt marsh snake is protected as a Threatened species by the Federal Endangered Species Act and as a Federally-designated Threatened species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.
Florida Natural Areas Inventory. 2001. Field guide to the rare animals of Florida.
Florida Museum of Natural History. (n.d.). Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake. Retrieved August 1, 2011, from Herpetology:
Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Nerodia clarkii. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 August 2011.
Kochman, H. I.,1992. Atlantic salt marsh snake, Nerodia clarkia taeniata (Cope). Pages 111 - 116 in P. E. Moler, editor. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Volume III. Amphibians and reptiles. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.