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Photo Credit: Robert Mount
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Farancia abacura
Subspecies: Farancia abacura abacura (Eastern) and Farancia abacura reinwardti (Western)
OTHER NAMES: Hoop snake, horned snake, and stinging snake
DESCRIPTION: Mud snakes are large aquatic snakes that attain lengths up to 80 inches, but generally are 40 to 65 inches in length. The scales of the mud snake are smooth, with a glossy black color on the dorsal and a bright red or pink and black checkerboard pattern on the ventral. The mud snake has a sharp point on the end of its tail. The mud snake is very docile and refuses to bite, but its habit of pressing the spine-like tip of the tail against the captor’s skin gives rise to the misconception that the mud snake can sting. Thus, the common nicknames “horned snake” and “stinging snake.” Southern folklore also holds that the mud snake can take its tail in its mouth and roll like a wheel, giving rise to the common name “hoop snake.” However, this snake is not capable of moving in this manner. Mud snakes range throughout the coastal plain from east
HABITAT: Mud snakes inhabit swamps, marshes, ponds, and slow moving mud-bottom streams. They prefer aquatic areas with heavy vegetation, like beaver ponds with swampy margins.
FEEDING HABITS: Adult mud snakes feed almost entirely on amphiumas and sirens. The presence and abundance of these chief components of the mud snake’s diet are required for mud snakes to survive. Juvenile mud snakes eat tadpoles, small salamanders, and fish.
Mount, Robert H. 1975. The Reptiles & Amphibians of
Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern and Central North America, The Peterson Field Guide Series, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 182
Florida Backyard Snakes www.floridabackyardsnakes.com/Easternmudsnake.htm
South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians www.snakesandfrogs.com/scra/snakes/mud.htm
Nelson, David K. Personal observations and field notes
Author: Dave Nelson, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries