I never stumble upon a Nerodia watersnake that I don’t adore. They’re just terrific, beautiful, and fascinating organisms. They’re also amazingly and consistently misunderstood and feared unnecessarily by the better part of humanity. Far too many people see the non-venomous watersnakes of Genus Nerodia and immediately think four things: AGGRESSIVE! COTTONMOUTH! VENOMOUS! MUST DESTROY! All four counts are, as Stuart Smalley might say, stinkin’ thinkin’.
Featured here is a decently-sized-yet-slim Florida green watersnake, Nerodia floridana, photographed during my post-storm romp around much of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties last week. Of Florida’s non-venomous Nerodia watersnakes, in my experience Florida green watersnakes tend to be the beefiest (though Brown watersnakes can certainly pack some mass, too). Though not aggressive in the slightest, I don’t mind describing Florida green watersnakes as “assertively defensive.” What I mean by this is that even though this species simply won’t chase you under any circumstances, if you do pick one up, it can pack quite the punch in its self defense. Florida greens can bite, and they can bite pretty hard — though they don’t always put up the effort.
As for this individual, it was a bit of an Owen Wilson caliber Florida green watersnake. If it had anything to say, it was Wow, man, wow. Not an overly reactive individual. It definitely wasn’t a Nick Cage Florida green.