Nerodia clarkii compressicauda, the Mangrove salt marsh snake, photographed in Miami-Dade county, Florida (07 March 2008).
As promised, I give unto you the delightfully and illicitly titillating Nerodia clarkii compressicauda: the Mangrove salt marsh snake! What you’re looking at here is, well, a sex thing. Somewhere in that tangle of snakedness is a lady snake and her pheromones are crying out DO IT AND DO IT NOW! (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)
This was certainly a fun encounter. I spotted these mangrove salt marsh snakes (non-venomous, by the way) in Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gable, Florida — a bit south of MegaMiami and right next to the famous Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens. As their common name hints, I found these snakes along a narrow creekline in a mangrove swamp very near the Atlantic.
Now, you may note that there’s quite a bit of variation in coloring and patterning with these snakes. You’re right, there is, but they are all of the same subspecies. Mangrove salt marsh snakes (sometimes known simply as mangrove watersnakes) are, in fact, quite variable in color — ranging from solid orange/red to solid black, along with a more-blotched gray/black variant — all three of which were seen in this single group at one point or another.
I watched this group frolic about on a horizontal, fallen limb overhanging the water for about fifteen or twenty minutes. During the encounter, they fell off the limb at one point and the orange individual swam right to where I was. I couldn’t resist and caught the snake for a few close-up shots. After that, it got hanky panky. Like, real hanky lanky.
I think the orange one may have been the female. Why? Because after I handled that one individual, the rest of the snakes made their way over to me, as if I myself may have been a bodacious babe of the compressicauda persuasion. It was a hell of an experience, trying to photograph one snake while four others tried climbing up my arm.
I also shot a fair amount of video during the encounter. I don’t usually mess around too much with video because I’m more Nikon-focused when it comes to recording my encounters, but I’m sure glad I had the camera with me on this particular trip:
All in all, a fantastic little encounter in south Florida. The Matheson Hammock / Fairchild area in Coral Gables is truly splendid if you’re a fan of lizards and snakes. On that note, we’re going to head back to anole territory —once again— after this post. With December officially here, I’m feeling a deep and sustained need for more Anolis mojo. Rumor has it the temp may actually hit 80 degrees tomorrow, so who knows… maybe our local Valdosta green anoles will come out and play?
The music in the video, by the way, is an original keyboard composition I recorded on 22 October 2007. It’s called “Stance, sans Fuzz” and was recorded using Garageband on a MacBook. My heavens, I do love Garageband.