Rare rainbow snake seen in Ocala is first sighting of species since 1969

FWC photo of a rainbow snake

Two women were hiking in the Ocala National Forest when they stumbled upon a critter that hasn’t been seen in over 50 years within the county. 

They spotted a rainbow snake that was about four feet long. State wildlife officials said it is the first record of the species in Marion County since 1969. Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said a recent drawdown from Rodman Reservoir possibly had the snake on the move.

The species spending most of their life hiding in aquatic vegetation. They are hardly seen “even by herpetologists, due to their cryptic habits. Burrowing near creeks, lakes, marshes, and tidal mudflats, rainbow snakes specialize in eating eels, earning the nickname ‘eel moccasin,’” FWC reports.

Rainbow snakes are non-venomous and can grow between 40 to 54 inches long. The longest on record was 66 inches. IN Florida, they have been spotted throughout the Panhandle, north Florida, along the St. John’s River to the northern part of central Florida. Some populations have been reported in the Tampa Bay area.