Southeastern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata)

Photos by Amanda Hurst unless otherwise noted

Description: The southeastern crowned snake (Tantilla coronata) is small, slender snake, ranging from 5.2–9.6 in (13.3-24.5 cm) in length. Adults are normally tan to brown with a black head and chin. A black band 3-5 scales wide can be seen on the neck. The belly is uniform white, yellow, or pinkish. The scales are smooth, and there are 15 dorsal scale rows at midbody. It has a round pupil and divided anal. Juveniles exhibit the same morphology as adults and are around 3 in. (7.6 cm) upon hatching. This species is similar in appearance to the Florida crowned snake (Tantilla relicta), but in T. relicta the light neck band is usually absent or less distinct, and the species is only found in extreme southern Georgia and Florida.

Range and Habitat: Southeastern crowned snakes can be found throughout the Coastal Plain from the Florida panhandle north, but are absent from southern Georgia. A few scattered populations occur in the Piedmont , but they are generally rare outside the Coastal Plain. They can be found in a variety of habitats, but are normally collected under rocks, logs, leaf litter, and other ground debris. They are most common in sandhills and dry pine forests.

Habits: Primarily an insectivore, it feeds on insect larvae, snails, spiders, and especially centipedes. It is rear-fanged but its tiny size make it no danger to humans or their pets. This terrestrial burrower is an extremely secretive snake and is seldom seen, even in areas where it is common. Breeding occurs from April to May. Southeastern crowned snakes lay 1-3 eggs between May and June.

Conservation Status: This species is often perceived to be uncommon because of its secretive nature. It is protected throughout the state of Georgia.

Pertinent References:

Aldridge, R.D., and R.D. Semlitsch. 1992. Female reproductive biology of the southeastern crowned snake (Tantilla coronata). Amphibia-Reptilia 13: 209-218.

Account Author: Geoffrey Bailey, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson