Eastern Mud Snake
Farancia abacura abacura

Family: Xenodontidae - Robust Rear-fanged Snakes

Typical Adult Size: 40 to 54 inches

Reproduction: egg laying

Eye Pupil: round

Dorsal Scales: smooth

Anal Scale: usually divided

SC Range Map

Additional Images

Mud Snakes are large shiny, iridescent black snakes with red blotches along the sides. In uncommon cases, the red color is absent and replaced with white. Adult size is considered to be in the range of 40 to 54 inches. Their tails end in hard points. The young are patterned like the adults. Mud Snakes are found in or near water in the coastal plain region of South Carolina. Amphiumas (large, nearly legless salamanders) and other amphibians are reported to be their favorite foods. They are powerfully muscled. They are adept burrowers.

The first specimen I ever found was searching the bottom of a shallow, rain-filled pool within the flood plain of the Congaree River below Columbia, SC. It was about 48 inches long. Upon recognizing the species, I was able to grasp it before it fled into the vegetation. It made no attempt to bite, although it did try to prod me into releasing it by pushing its pointed tail against my skin.

Mud Snakes are interesting species, but are difficult to keep in captivity. They are picky eaters and supplying their favorite foods is very difficult.

Unlike most other snake species, Mud Snakes tend their eggs until they hatch. A fellow herp enthusiast in Alabama wrote me of his experience with a nesting Mud Snake. He found a nesting Mud Snake in a cavity under a log in front of his house. She was about 4 feet long and coiled around a clutch of eggs. [One reference suggests the mother's respiration could help regulate the humidity around the eggs.] After discovering the snake and eggs, he and his children lifted the log every few days to checked on them. The mother was not frightened away by their actions.

The writer was concerned that after hatching the babies would be killed by cars in the nearby street. He said he had already seen some DOR neonate Pine Snakes. After several weeks, he found the babies beginning to cut open their egg shells. He held the mother coiled in his hands while his daughter gathered the eggs (16 in all). The mother was very docile. They placed the eggs and some of the soil from the nest into a container. The mother was put into the container where she resumed her position coiled around her eggs and lay still. He kept the container in a dark, quiet location. By the next day all 16 babies had hatched successfully. He said the neonates were small, around 6 or 7 inches, brightly colored, and very active. The eggs were also small, considering the size of the mother. He and his children released all the snakes in a nearby wildlife management area.

Additional Images:

Eastern Mud Snake, Farancia abacura abacura
young adult
young adult
pointed tail
belly pattern
adult, female
adult, female, belly
Return to top of page

Return to SC Snake Index

July 07, 2009
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians