This is a Mangrove salt marsh snake, Nerodia clarkii compressicauda, one of three “salt marsh” watersnake subspecies in Florida. This particular individual, photographed in the mangroves of the Florida Keys, is rather close to ecdysis, the “shedding” of its scales. This is what gives the snake’s eyes and ventral scales that bluish gloss/glow.
The Mangrove salt marsh snake is remarkably variable in coloration and patterning. Some individuals may sport a bright orange coat while other will be jet black, mottled gray, or some combination thereof. This individual is obviously of the darker persuasion. Ranging from central Florida through the Florida Keys on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the Mangrove salt marsh snake is well adapted to living life in the colorful and complex mangrove habitats of the Floridian peninsula.