Black Swampsnake
(Liodytes pygaea)

Description: This fairly small aquatic snake reaches an average adult size of 10-15 inches (25-38cm). It has shiny-black smooth-scales above, dark eyes, and a deep red coloration on the belly. The belly scales have some black on the edges. 

Natural History: This highly aquatic snake navigates the swamps and non-permanent wetlands of the coastal plains. In thick mats of aquatic vegetation, they searches for small fish, leeches, and aquatic salamanders. Due to their aquatic and seclusive nature they are seldom seen and are most frequently encountered crossing roads during warm, rainy nights.

Similar Species: The Black Swamp Snake resides in a similar habitat and can bare a resemblance to the Mud Snake (Farancia abacura). Mud snakes have a black checkerboard pattern with red coloration extending up on the side scales of the snake, while Black Swamp Snake only has red on it ventral scales. Red-bellied Snakes (Storeria occipitomaculata) have keeled scales and do not have a solid black dorsal coloration.

Distribution: This species occurs in the coastal plains of the Carolinas extending to peninsular Florida and the Florida panhandle.

Notes: There are three recognized subspecies of the Liodytes pygaea. The North Florida Swampsnake, L. p. pygaea. The South Florida Swampsnake, L. p. cyclas. And the Carolina Swampsnake, L. p. paludis. Region and ventral scale count are the best ways to differentiate the subspecies.

Contributed by Jake Zadik (12/11/2019)