Description: Owning up to its name, the Rainbow Snake is one of the most colorful and beautiful snakes in the Southeastern United States. This snake can be quite large with lengths up to 66 inches (168cm). Dorsally this snake has three red lines running down a dark stout body. The sides of the snake are usually yellow and the scales are smooth giving the snake a glossy appearance. The underside is pink to reddish with 2-3 black spots on each ventral scale. The eyes of the snake are small and dark, and the tip of the tail is pointed.
Natural History: This snake is highly aquatic and very seldom seen. Due to its secretive nature, little is known about its natural history. Adults certainly show a preference for sandy-bottom wetlands with flowing water that have a permanent connection to the ocean. This includes black-water creeks, rivers and cypress swamps with a flow. They have also been found in brackish water habitats closer to the coast as well as in historic rice impoundments along tidal freshwater rivers. Its habitat selection is likely driven by its preferred food source, the American Eel. These snake have also been known to consume aquatic amphibians.
They are mostly nocturnal and most active during spring and early summer. Keen observers may spot them foraging on wetland edges or crossing roads on warm rainy nights. The may also be spotted basking on cypress knees or river banks prior to shedding. If picked up the Rainbow Snake may poke its captor with its pointed tail, but will rarely bite.
Distribution: This snake is found in the Coastal Plains of the Southeastern United States. From Virginia, to north Florida, west to eastern Louisiana.
Contributed by Jake Zadik (12/11/2019)