Aquatic Snake Research

The Water Mocassin or Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon leucostoma) is the only North American pit-viper that is semiaquatic.

The Queen Snake, Regina septemvittata, is one of the most aquatic North American natricid snakes.

Oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface with a minimum of 356,000 km of coastline, yet only 2.5% (about 86 species) of the 3364 extant snakes are known to inhabit the oceans on a regular basis. It is unclear whether most of these snakes are spending substantial amounts of time in salt water and are well adapted for life in saline waters, or whether they use behavioral osmoregulation, shuttling between marine and freshwater environments while remaining dependent upon sources of freshwater. Given the low percentage of snake species in the oceans, the physical environment appears to provide challenges for snakes. A survey of lifestyles (habitat use foraging modeþdaily activity pattern þreproductive mode) of 2552 alethenophidian snakes in 459 genera revealed about 362 (14%) species using aquatic environments to varying degrees; only 70 (2.7%) of these are sea snakes (Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae). Another 65 or more species appear to use brackish water or the ocean. The ancient Acrochordidae contains three extant species, all of which have populations in brackish, marine, and freshwater environments. The Homalopsidae containing terrestrial, semi-aquatic, and aquatic snakes has about 14 species that have invaded brackish and marine waters. The speciose Dipsadidae of the western hemisphere has at least seven species with coastal–marine populations, the cosmopolitan Natricidae has about 24 species with populations using brackish waters but most of these also have populations that primarily inhabit freshwater. The semi-aquatic, African Grayiinae has at least one species that uses brackish water. However, any aquatic or semi-aquatic snake with a coastal population is likely to visit brackish water on occasion. Flooding may move snakes downstream into estuaries, while storm surges, high tides, and rising sea levels (prehistoric marine incursions) may move saline water inland.

RSS Serpent Research

  • Crack pots, insanity, and some really sick human beings April 11, 2017
    Snakes provide a variety of ecosystem services, not the least of which is rodent control. This is a free service provide by nature. However, like much of what is free, Republicans insist on privatizing it so somebody can make a profit.Arizona HB2022 failed on a tie vote yesterday (April 10, 2017). The bill, if passed, […]
  • Logging & Leatherbacks April 10, 2017
    Leatherback turtle hatchlings. Photo Credit: Juan Patiño Debris from logging in tropical forests is threatening the survival of hatchling leatherback turtles and the success of mothers at one of the world's most important nesting sites in Colombia.New research by the University of Exeter and the Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, has found that debris on […]
  • Lowland amphibians are at higher risk from future climate warming. April 7, 2017
    A new study of Peruvian frogs living at a wide variety of elevations -- from the Amazon floodplain to high Andes peaks -- lends support to the idea that lowland amphibians are at higher risk from future climate warming.That's because the lowland creatures already live near the maximum temperatures they can tolerate, while high-elevation amphibians […]