Central Florida Crowned Snake (Tantilla relicta)

Black Racer (Coluber constrictor)

Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

Description: A small -– 7-9 in (17.7 – 22.8 cm) –- slender snake that is tan or light brown with a black head, chin, and back of neck. A light spot occurs on each side of the lower neck, and the belly is uniform whitish-yellow. Scales are smooth, and the anal plate is divided. This species is most easily distinguished from the similar southeastern crowned snake (Tantilla coronata) by geographic range and by lack of a distinct, unbroken light ring on the back of the neck.

Range and Habitat: The Florida crowned snake is primarily restricted to Florida and has only been found in a few locations in extreme southern Georgia. They are found in well-drained sandhills and hammocks and are often associated with longleaf pine or turkey oak scrub habitat.

Habits: Crowned snakes are almost exclusively fossorial (living underground) and are seldom seen. They may be found under rocks, logs, leaf litter, and other debris and are reported to occupy pocket gopher and gopher tortoise burrows. Crowned snakes lay several elongated eggs in the summer. This species provides the principal prey for the rare short-tailed snake (Stilosoma extenuatum).

Conservation Status: The Florida crowned snake is listed by NatureServe Conservation as global status G5 (secure) and is listed as S1(critically impaired) in Georgia because of its small range in the state. This species is protected in the state of Georgia.

Account Author: Carmel Norman, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson