Florida has many different kinds of reptiles, including at least 44 species of snakes. However, the green snakes of Florida are one of the few snake species that really stand out due to their vivid coloration and other distinctive features. These colorful reptiles can be found all over the state, from the forests to the wetlands. In this article, we’ll learn more about the green snakes of Florida.
9 Green snakes in Florida
This list looks at nine different species of green-colored snakes found in Florida. They are the rough green snake, eastern garter snake, Mississippi green water snake, Southern ribbon snake, plain-bellied water snake, Florida green water snake, eastern hognose snake, queen snake and the eastern ribbon snake.
1. Rough green snake
- Scientific Name: Opheodrys aestivus
The rough green snake is one of the greenest snakes in Florida. They’re non-venomous snakes that grow to be between 14 and 33 inches long when they’re adults. These reptiles are thin and have a bright green back and a cream to yellow belly.
They’re found all over Florida, especially in the central and southern peninsulas and in the Florida Keys. Rough green snakes prefer to live in mixed hardwood hammocks, bottomland forests, maritime forests, and dune meadows on Atlantic coast barrier islands. You can even find some in the suburbs close to their natural habitats.
Rough green snakes don’t usually bite when they feel threatened. These species of snakes usually act like a branch by freezing and swaying with the wind, or they give off a bad smell to scare off predators.
2. Eastern garter snake
- Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
The eastern garter snake, also known as the common garter snake, is a slender reptile that lives on the mainland of Florida, except along the gulf coast from eastern Wakulla County in the panhandle south to Hernando County in the central peninsula.
These reptiles are among the most common snakes in North America, and you can easily recognize them by their background color, which can be black, greenish-brown, tan, or gray, and by the stripe that runs down the middle of their back and along their sides.
When they feel threatened, eastern garter snakes just make every effort to flee, but they can also vibrate their tails and smell unpleasant to scare off their attackers.
3. Mississippi green water snake
- Scientific Name: Nerodia cyclopion
The Mississippi green waters snake is another kind of green snake that you might see in Florida. It’s a type of water snake with a thick body and a dark green color.
They can get as long as 45 inches and have small dark spots all over their bodies that fade as they age. Mississippi green water snakes have been seen from the coast of Escambia County in the far western Panhandle, but only a few of them have been recorded.
You can find them in slow-moving water, where they eat fish and amphibians by grabbing them with their jaws and eating them whole and alive. They usually hunt at night but can sometimes be seen basking in the sun on a warm day.
4. Southern ribbon snake
- Scientific Name: Thamnophis saurita sackenii
The southern ribbon snake, which is also called a Florida ribbon snake, can be found all over Florida. They only get up to 30 inches long and are much smaller than the three other subspecies of ribbon snakes.
This subspecies of ribbon snake ranges in color from greenish olive to black. It has a dorsal stripe that’s greenish or light olive-gray with black edges and yellowish stripes on its sides.
The best places to spot these animals, which are able to thrive in both aquatic and arboreal environments, are marshes, swamps, and lakes surrounded by thick vegetation.
5. Plain-bellied water snake
- Scientific Name: Nerodia erythrogaster
Another type of water snake that lives in Florida is the plain-bellied water snake. They’re a species of true water snakes and aren’t venomous.
Since they’re mostly aquatic animals, they’re most likely to be found in rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, springs, and cypress strands. Plain-bellied water snakes have thick bodies and solid colors that can be brown, gray, olive green, greenish-gray, or black. Their undersides are plain colors that range from red to yellow.
Even though they spend most of their time in the water, you can find these snakes in logs, and they spend more time on land than other water snakes. These creatures usually go to land and leave the water when attempting to escape.
6. Florida green watersnake
- Scientific Name: Nerodia floridana
The Florida green water snakes are among the reptiles you can see all over mainland Florida west to Walton County. It’s a type of snake that’s not venomous, but people often mistake it for venomous snakes like the cottonmouth.
However, these water snakes can be recognized by their greenish or brownish coloring with slight dark speckles across their bodies. The color of their bellies is light, and adults of this species can grow to be 30-55 inches long.
These snakes are aquatic and live in shallow water, where they eat fish, frogs, and other amphibians. As non-aggressive reptiles, they typically retreat from human presence when given a chance. But if these green-colored reptiles feel attacked or trapped, they’ll fight for themselves and strike at their predators.
7. Eastern Hognose Snake
Scientific Name: Heterodon platirhinos
The eastern hognose snake is found on mainland Florida, but not on the islands. It is a dark olive-drab color, but individuals have extensive variation in color and can be tan, brown, or gray as well. The hognose snake has a mottled appearance, with patches of color providing camouflage.
Eastern hognose snakes are not poisonous, but when threatened, they imitate poisonous snakes like cobras, flattening their heads and hissing at would-be predators. If this strategy fails, a hognose snake may also play dead and hope that its attacker loses i
The hognose snake roots in the ground and digs out prey with its large snout. It will also eat any other prey it can catch.
8. Queen snake
- Scientific Name: Regina septemvittata
The queen snake is a dark olive green snake that is found in the Panhandle area of Florida. They live near water and are able to swim well, spending much of their time in the water.
The queen snake can grow up to two feet long. It tends to live in streams and prefers fast-flowing water and rocks that it can hide in. Queen snakes eat crawdads and other aquatic prey. They are not poisonous.
Like the rough green snake, the scales of the queen snake are keeled, meaning that there is a ridge on each scale that is rough to touch.
9. Eastern Ribbon Snake
Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
The eastern ribbon snake is a green and white striped snake that is found throughout the entire state of Florida and on the islands of the Keys. Ribbon snakes have very slender bodies with heads that are not much larger than the body. The eastern ribbon snake can grow up to two feet long.
Ribbon snakes eat frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians. They hunt their prey by chasing it down and devouring it.
The eastern ribbon snake is sometimes confused with the southern ribbon snake, which can also be found in Florida. Southern ribbon snakes live in bodies of water like pools and swamps, though they also live occasionally in trees.
Neither ribbon snake is poisonous, and both will flee when threatened, rather than attack.