Species F. erytrogramma
Rainbow Snake Basics
Farancia erytrogramma is a big, non-venomous rainbow snake often called the eel moccasin that is indigenous to the United States of America. This water snake is a colubrid snake that spends most of its time buried amid watery plants and detritus. These snakes are so skilled at concealment that they are seldom seen.
This lovely snake has three red stripes down its back and is largely black. The belly is reddish-pink in colour and has black dots in two or three rows. At times, its head and flanks may have a yellowish colour.
The rainbow snake may be found from southern Virginia to eastern Louisiana in the southern United States’ coastal plain. It is most often found in cypress swamps and flowing water settings such as creeks, streams, and rivers. These snakes are often found in tidal and brackish waters around the coast.
Despite their aquatic nature, it is fairly rare to observe these snakes on land. They construct their nests on the land surface, and some of the young may remain there during the winter until emerging in the spring.
Rainbow snakes spawn just once a year, usually in the late spring or early summer. In a burrow underground, the female will lay roughly 20 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 60 to 80 days, during which time the female remains with them. The mother snakes depart when they begin to hatch, and the newborn snakes are left to fend for themselves.
As juveniles, rainbow snakes consume a variety of fish, frogs, worms, tadpoles, and salamanders. Adults exclusively consume American eels, earning them the moniker “eel moccasin.” The snakes consume their victim while it is still alive, eating it whole.
The majority of these snakes are vulnerable. They aren’t violent and won’t bite you if you handle them. If they are disturbed, they might transmit a caution signal. When the snake feels threatened, it will coil its body and lower its head while elevating its tail in the air. Spines on the tail are used to manage the prey they’ve grabbed, but they may also be used to drive predators away.
Interesting Insights from the Rainbow Snake!
Because of this snake’s reclusive character, there is no information available regarding its biology. However, based on the information we do have, this snake is a fantastic illustration of numerous key biological ideas. Let’s look at it more closely.
Rainbow Snakes are Adapted for Aquatic Life
As a snake that spends most of its time in water, it’s not surprising that the rainbow snake can swim so well. Snakes slide their bodies in lateral motions, forming an S-shaped pattern. They are propelled through the water by this action.
Rainbow snakes mostly feed underwater. Because they lack gills, they must surface in order to breathe. This means that they must hunt underwater while holding their breath. Snakes that forage in water may exploit apnea, or a cessation of breathing.
Between breaths, virtually all animals experience apnea. We pull air into our lungs as we inhale. We hesitate briefly before exhaling, but not for long. Snakes, unlike many other species, including humans, can hold their breath for an extended period of time. This is particularly true if they feel at ease. Snakes may employ apnea to help them remain underwater for longer periods of time. The length of time a rainbow snake can hold its breath is unknown. They will come to the surface and exit the water after they have grabbed their prey, allowing them to breathe again.
Female snakes, unlike other terrestrial species, are generally bigger than male snakes, and the rainbow snake is no exception. Females grow to be substantially bigger than males, with an average length of 66 inches (167.6 cm). Males are shorter in body length and have longer tails than females, averaging 42 inches (107.4 cm) in length.
The female snake’s larger size relative to the male is thought to be an adaptive characteristic. Snakes, on the whole, don’t have much in the way of parental care. A bigger female may give birth to more and larger children, increasing her chances of surviving.
During the mating season, males must actively seek out and successfully court females. Predators are less likely to notice them because of their modest size. It also implies they’re more mobile and have reduced energy expenses when it comes to locomotion and female tracking.
Polygynandrous Mating System
In the animal realm, there are a variety of mating methods. Rainbow snakes have polygynandrous males and females. Polygynandry is a word used to describe a polygamous mating system with several males and females. A female will mate with multiple males in this mating system, and those males will mate with several females as well.
Using this sort of mating method has a number of benefits. Males are not required to stick around because, unlike other species, juvenile rainbow snakes do not need parental care after they have hatched. This implies that by mating with as many females as possible, they may enhance their reproductive success. The goal is to increase the number of kids who survive to maturity so that they may pass on their genes.
Mating with numerous guys minimises the probability of unfertilized eggs for the female.
Chimpanzees and bonobos, for example, depend on this mating mechanism. These animals, on the other hand, may live in cooperative communities and spend less time worrying about mating rivalry as a result of this.