Nerodia clarkii taeniata (x) N. fasciata pictiventris, 23 April 2006

Nerodia clarkii taeniata (x) Nerodia fasciata pictiventris,
hybrid of the Atlantic salt marsh snake and the Florida banded watersnake;
Brevard county, Florida (23 April 2006).

Once upon an ago, the Atlantic salt marsh snake was a well-established subspecies of the Salt marsh snake in east-central Florida, particularly within Volusia and Brevard county brackish and salt marsh ecosystems. Today, their numbers have diminished significantly. Rather than simply disappearing, however, an interesting process has been unfolding. A more-freshwater oriented species, Nerodia fasciata pictiventris, has gradually moved into and invaded the Atlantic salt marsh snake’s habitats (which are, as you may guess, brackish and saltwater marshes). They’ve hybridized quite a bit, these two species, over the past few decades. Today, most of the salt marsh snakes I encounter exhibit signs of this hybridization. They look like smaller banded watersnakes with traces of salt marsh striping and patterning. Very, very cool.

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