Nerodia clarkii
The Salt Marsh Snake is a species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of semiaquatic, nonvenomous, colubrid
A colubrid is a member of the snake family Colubridae. This broad classification of snakes includes about two-thirds of all snake species on earth. The earliest species of the snake family date back to the Oligocene epoch. With 304 genera and 1,938 species, Colubridae is the largest snake family...

Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

 found in the southeastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, in the brackish salt marsh
Salt marsh
A salt marsh is an environment in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and salt water or brackish water, it is dominated by dense stands of halophytic plants such as herbs, grasses, or low shrubs. These plants are terrestrial in origin and are essential to the stability of the salt marsh...

es along the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 from Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 to Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, with a population in northern Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...



Salt Marsh Snakes grow from 15 inches (38.1 cm) to 30 inches (76.2 cm) in length, and are highly variable in pattern and coloration. Populations of the Gulf salt marsh snake from the vicinity of Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi is a coastal city in the South Texas region of the U.S. state of Texas. The county seat of Nueces County, it also extends into Aransas, Kleberg, and San Patricio counties. The MSA population in 2008 was 416,376. The population was 305,215 at the 2010 census making it the...

, to the Gulf Hammock region of Florida are gray, tan or yellow with four brown to black longitudinal stripes.

Populations in Florida from Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay is a large natural harbor and estuary along the Gulf of Mexico on the west central coast of Florida, comprising Hillsborough Bay, Old Tampa Bay, Middle Tampa Bay, and Lower Tampa Bay."Tampa Bay" is not the name of any municipality...

 south to Miami and northward along the Atlantic coast to the vicinity of Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral, from the Spanish Cabo Cañaveral, is a headland in Brevard County, Florida, United States, near the center of the state's Atlantic coast. Known as Cape Kennedy from 1963 to 1973, it lies east of Merritt Island, separated from it by the Banana River.It is part of a region known as the...

 are referred to as the mangrove salt marsh snake (N. clarkii compressicauda). This subspecies exhibits many colors and patterns and can be gray, green, or tan with darker banding or may even be solid reddish orange or straw yellow.

A third subspecies, the Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake (N. clarkii taeniata), is restricted to a small stretch of coastline in Volusia
Volusia County, Florida
Volusia County is a county located in the state of Florida. The U.S. Census Bureau 2010 official county's population was 494,593 . Its county seat is DeLand, and its most populous city is currently Deltona....

 and Indian River
Indian River County, Florida
Indian River County is a county located in the Treasure Coast region in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2000, the population was 112,947. The U.S. Census Bureau 2005 estimate for the county is 128,594...

 counties. This race is smaller than the other two and has a color pattern of four dark stripes on the neck which are replaced by a serious of dark blotches or bands on the posterior portion of the snake's body. It is currently listed as a Threatened Species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.


Some sources consider the three races of N. clarkii to be subspecies of the Southern Water Snake, Nerodia fasciata
Nerodia fasciata
The banded water snake or Southern water snake is a species of mostly aquatic, nonvenomous, colubrid snake found in the central and southeastern United States, from Indiana, south to Texas and east to Florida.-Description:...

. Others consider not only the three races of N. clarkii, but also the species N. fasciata itself, all to be subspecies of N. sipedon.


There are three recognized subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 of N. clarkii:
  • Gulf Salt Marsh Snake, Nerodia clarkii clarkii (Baird
    Spencer Fullerton Baird
    Spencer Fullerton Baird was an American ornithologist, ichthyologist and herpetologist. Starting in 1850 he was assistant-secretary and later secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C...

     & Girard
    Charles Frédéric Girard
    Charles Frédéric Girard was a French biologist specializing in ichthyology and herpetology.Born in Mulhouse, France, he studied at the College of Neuchâtel, Switzerland as a student of Louis Agassiz. In 1847, he accompanied Agassiz as his assistant to Harvard...

    , 1853)
  • Mangrove Salt Marsh Snake, Nerodia clarkii compressicauda (Kennicott
    Robert Kennicott
    Robert Kennicott was an American naturalist.-Biography:Kennicott was born in New Orleans and grew up in "West Northfield" , Illinois, a town in the prairie north of the then nascent city of Chicago....

    , 1860)
  • Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake, Nerodia clarkii taeniata (Cope
    Edward Drinker Cope
    Edward Drinker Cope was an American paleontologist and comparative anatomist, as well as a noted herpetologist and ichthyologist. Born to a wealthy Quaker family, Cope distinguished himself as a child prodigy interested in science; he published his first scientific paper at the age of nineteen...

    , 1895)
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