Tracey Cauthen was on a hike in Ocala National Forest in Florida when she encountered a creature that has remained elusive for over five decades. That creature was a snake measuring about four feet long, with a mostly dark body accented by bright strips of yellow and red.
Appropriately named a “rainbow snake,” the slithery serpent is also commonly called an “eel moccasin” because it enjoys feeding on eels.
It was the first sighting of this species in Marion County since 1969, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.https://t.co/M1qpPT2S4W
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) February 20, 2020
According to the FWC: Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Facebook page, the rainbow snake is an aquatic creature, and spends most of its time in the water:
“Rainbow snakes are highly-aquatic, spending most of their life hidden amongst aquatic vegetation,” the FWC says.
Because of this, the FWC refers to the rainbow snake as an animal that is “seldom seen” by humans. That proves to be true in the case of Marion County, where Cauthen had her recent rainbow snake encounter.
According to the FWC, the Florida Museum of Natural History confirmed Cauthen’s sighting was the first time anyone in Marion County has seen a rainbow snake since 1969…over 50 years ago! Because of this, the FWC called her encounter “A Rare Sighting!”
The FWC shared the photos Cauthen took of the snake, which you can see below. They also included a photo of a rainbow snake taken by someone named Jonathan Mays.
A Rare Sighting! Tracey Cauthen recently reported stumbling upon a ~4 ft Rainbow Snake, Farancia erytrogramma, while…
Even though it is nicknamed the “eel moccasin,” the rainbow snake is not venomous like the water moccasin, which is a more commonly spotted snake. So Cauthen was never in any danger when she was photographing the rainbow snake she saw on her hike.
As for why the rainbow snake emerged from its elusive state, the FWC says its biologists think “the recent drawdown of Rodman Reservoir had this rainbow snake on the move.”
No matter the reason, Cauthen can consider herself lucky for being one of few people to encounter such a rarely seen creature.
You can learn more about rainbow snakes by checking out the below video.