The Diverse World of Snakes in Swamps!

The word “swamp” instantly conjures up visions of deadly snakes draped over low-hanging branches or swimming through murky water. Swamps are a favored environment for snakes due to the abundance of prey. 

Snakes in swamps can be found all over the Americas. The most notorious species of swamp-dwelling snake are Burmese Pythons, Coral Snakes, Anacondas, Cottonmouths, and Boa Constrictors. Despite their reputation, most snakes found in swamps are non-venomous. 

In this article, you will explore the swamps of the Americas and learn about the most infamous species of swamp-dwelling snakes. 

1. Burmese Python

Python bivitattus

Burmese Pythons are native to Southeast Asia, but people have released their pet pythons to the wild in Florida, and the snakes now populate the Everglades. One of the largest snakes in the world, Burmese pythons can reach up to twenty-three feet (seven meters) in length and weigh two-hundred pounds (ninety-seven kilograms). 

They are adept swimmers and thrive in marshy wetlands. Since they have naturalized in the Florida Everglades, thousands of pythons can now be found. They are considered a sizable threat to the native ecosystem of the Everglades due to their voracious appetites. 

Pythons are constrictor snakes and feed by trapping their prey with their powerful jaws and then coiling their massive bodies around the animals, squeezing until the animal dies. The snake then eats its prey whole. Not picky eaters, they eat everything from woodrats to alligators. 

The Burmese python is known to be a docile, shy snake which lends itself to being a popular pet for snake lovers. They are not venomous but can be deadly to humans when provoked. 

2. Cottonmouth 

Agkistrodon piscivorus 

Also known by the name Water Moccasin, the Cottonmouth snake has a reputation as aggressive. The name Cotton mouth is due to its all-white mouth that it flashes as a warning when threatened.

Cottonmouths have a potent venom that can cause serious injury or sometimes death. They seldom bite, preferring instead to give a warning. Most bites have occurred when someone has stepped on or picked up the snake. 

Found in swamps of the southeastern United States, These snakes live along the water’s edge. They particularly favor enclosed pools of water with trapped fish and amphibians. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, birds, frogs, fish, and lizards. 

Cottonmouths are most easily identified by their white mouths. Their bodies are brown to gray and can have almost no markings or brightly contrasting brown bands. Their heads are distinctly triangular and large.

 If you encounter a cottonmouth, be sure to slowly back away until you are out of range and then quickly move to another area. 

3. Black Swamp Snake

Liodytes pygeae

This small aquatic snake features a black, shiny top with a bright red-orange belly. They typically reach ten to fifteen inches and are rarely found away from water. 

They are rarely seen, preferring to hunt at night and hide from predators during the daytime. Sightings usually occur on wet roads during or after rainfall. 

Black Swamp snakes are non-venomous and feed mainly on earthworms, frogs, and small fish. They can be found in the swamplands throughout Florida and up the Atlantic coast into North Carolina. 

4. Mississippi Green Water Snake

Nerodia cyclopion

The Mississippi Green Watersnake ranges all along the Mississippi River and the coastline near the river’s delta. It can also be found along the Gulf of Mexico coastline from Texas to Florida. 

It prefers slow-moving bodies of water where it hunts amphibians, fish, and birds at night. Ranging from thirty to forty-five inches (76 cm to 114 cm), Green Watersnakes are non-venomous but deliver a powerful bite

The Mississippi Green Watersnake is a prolific breeder. This snake has been recorded delivering 101 live snakes at once. 

Despite its name, this snake is more brown than green. It has a homogenous Olive, brown, or gray color that resembles the mud of its environment. It can be identified by its yellow throat and row of distinct scales underneath its eyes. 

5. Green Anaconda

Eunectes murinus

This infamous snake native to the rainforests of South America is one of the largest snakes in the world. This massive snake can reach up to thirty feet (9.1 meters) long, though most snakes are thought to be about fifteen to twenty feet (4.6 – 6.1 m) in length. Females are much larger than males, with male anacondas averaging nine feet in length.

According to Live Science, The genus Eunectes means “good swimmer” in Greek. Its name indicates its habitat, and it can be found in the Amazon basin throughout northern South America. There are many South American myths featuring the anaconda. It is thought to be the creator of water, shapeshifters, or magical animals with healing powers. 

Anacondas hunt at night near the water’s edge. Smaller snakes will eat small mammals or lizards, while full-grown anacondas hunt larger prey. There have even been reports of anacondas eating jaguars. 

Despite their fearsome reputation, Anacondas are non-venomous and not known to be aggressive. 

6. Brazilian Smooth Snake

Hydrodynastes gigas

This swamp snake can be found in the marshlands of Southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. It is also known as the false water cobra for its ability to flatten its neck to appear similar to the true water cobra. 

It is dark olive-brown to tan and features dark spots or bands along its body. Most Brazilian smooth snakes average six to seven feet (1.8 to 2.1 m), but specimens up to ten feet (3 meters) long have been recorded. 

Brazilian Smooth Snakes are venomous but rarely deadly. It tends to hang on and chew when it bites, releasing more and more venom over time. If this occurs, muscle paralysis and neuro-toxicity can occur. Despite this fact, these snakes have become popular pets among exotic pet owners. 

7. Boa Constrictor

Boa Constrictor

Boas live in the jungle swamps of Central and South America. They typically get about thirteen feet (4m) long and can live twenty to thirty years. When born, Boa Constrictors are about two feet long. The largest Boa ever recorded was eighteen feet (5.5m) long. 

Boa’s mouths are lined with hooked teeth, enabling them to hold fast to their prey while it coils their body around the animal, constricting it until dead. They then eat their prey whole, engorging themselves. The Boa will then spend the next several days digesting. It will not need to eat again for three or so months. 

These snakes are not venomous. They are tan with dark patterns along their bodies. The patterns can be circular, diamond shapes, or splotches. Boas are hunted for their skin and are considered critically endangered in Argentina. 

8. Speckled Racer

Drymobius margaritaferus

The Speckled Racer is easily identified by its unique markings. The body is spotted with dark blue and yellow speckles, giving the optical illusion that the snake is green. Its underbelly is dark yellow. This medium-sized snake ranges from twenty to thirty inches. 

Speckled Racers prefer freshwater sources surrounded by dense vegetation. It can easily hide in this environment and successfully hunt its preferred prey, frogs and toads. 

This snake is named for its speed. It ranges throughout the wetlands of Central America, Mexico, and up into Southern Texas. It is non-venomous but will bite if handled. 

9. Central American Coral Snake

Micrurus nigrocinctus

This highly venomous water-dwelling snake is found throughout Central America. It has several non-venomous lookalikes, so learning to properly identify this snake is important. These snakes range in size from twenty-five to forty-five inches (63.5 to 114.3 cm) and are covered in smooth, shiny scales. 

Coral snakes are identified by thick red and black bands bordered by thin yellow. The folk adage “black on yellow, kill a fellow” is used to help people differentiate coral snakes from non-venomous banded snakes. However, the easiest way to positively identify a coral snake is to look for a bright red or yellow band in the middle of its jet-black head.

It is rare to see this snake, as it burrows during the daytime under leaf litter or old logs. It emerges at night to hunt insects, amphibians, and small reptiles, including other snakes. 

Coral snakes are non-aggressive, and bites on humans typically only occur when they are picked up. 

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