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Nerodia clarkii (BAIRD & GIRARD, 1853)

IUCN Red List - Nerodia clarkii - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesNerodia clarkii clarkii (BAIRD & GIRARD 1853)
Nerodia clarkii compressicauda KENNICOTT 1860
Nerodia clarkii taeniata (COPE 1895) 
Common NamesSalt Marsh Snake
clarkii: Gulf Salt Marsh Snake
compressicauda: Mangrove Salt Marsh Snake
taeniata: Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake 
SynonymRegina Clarkii BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 48
Tropidonotus clarkii — BOULENGER 1893: 238
Natrix compressicauda — BARBOUR 1915
Natrix clarki — ALLEN 1932
Natrix sipedon clarkii — CLAY 1938: 180
Nerodia clarkii clarkii — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 155
Nerodia clarkii taeniata — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 155
Nerodia clarkii compressicauda — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 155
Nerodia clarki — SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1991: 627
Natrix fasciata clarki
Nerodia clarkii — CROTHER et al. 2012
Nerodia clarkii — WALLACH et al. 2014: 483
Nerodia clarki — LEMOS-ESPINAL 2015

Nerodia clarkii clarkii (BAIRD & GIRARD, 1853)
Regina Clarkii BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 48
Nerodia clarkii clarkii — CROTHER 2000: 66
Nerodia clarkii clarkii — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 147
Nerodia clarkii clarkii — CROTHER et al. 2012

Nerodia clarkii compressicauda KENNICOTT, 1860
Nerodia compressicauda KENNICOTT 1860: 335
Tropidonotus ustus COPE 1860: 340
Tropidonotus compressicaudus walkeri YARROW 1883: 154
Tropidonotus compressicaudus — GARMAN 1884: 27
Natrix compressicauda bivillata COPE 1889: 392
Tropidonotus compressicauda — BOULENGER 1893: 238
Natrix compressicauda — LOENNBERG 1894
Natrix sipedon compressicauda — CLAY 1938: 180
Nerodia fasciata compressicauda — MEHRTENS 1987: 156
Nerodia clarkii compressicauda — CROTHER 2000: 66
Nerodia clarkii compressicauda — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 149
Nerodia clarkii compressicauda — CROTHER et al. 2012

Nerodia clarkii taeniata (COPE 1895)
Natrix compressicauda taeniata COPE 1895: 676
Nerodia clarkii taeniata — CROTHER 2000: 67
Nerodia clarkii taeniata — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 148
Nerodia clarkii taeniata — CROTHER et al. 2012 
DistributionUSA (coastal Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, SE Texas),
N Cuba

clarki: USA (coastal Texas, Alabama)

compressicauda: USA (S Florida and the Florida Keys); northern coast of Cuba; Type locality: south of Tampa Bay, Florida.

taeniata: USA (Florida); Type locality: Florida, Volusia County, Volusia, National Gardens.

Type locality: Indianola, Calhoun Co., Texas.  
TypesHolotype: USNM 2264
Holotype: USNM 1348 [compressicauda]
Syntypes: ANSP 10903-04 [taeniata]
Syntype: USNM 13692 [bivittata]
Holotype: USNM 5286 [ustus]
Holotype: USNM 10681 [walkeri] 
DiagnosisDESCRIPTION: Maximum total length 933 mm; ventrals about 125; subcaudals about 62; dorsal scale rows at midbody 21; dorsal scales keeled; anal divided. Dorsal ground color dark grayish brown; about 23 slightly darker crossbands, absent from neck, becoming obscure posteriorly; crossbands bordered by scattered yellowish scales; light vertebral stripe on neck, splitting first few crossbands and vanishing at point about 5 head lengths behind head; vague, light line on scale rows 1 and 2, and another on scale rows 5 and 6, both confined to neck; dorsum may be uniform red or reddish orange; venter yellowish brown with midventral row of gray-bordered yellow spots, becoming indistinct posteriorly (Schwartz & Henderson 1991: 627). 
CommentFor illustrations see Wright and Wright, 1957; Neill, 1965 (Cuban specimen); Conant and Collins 1991; Ashton and Ashton, 1982. DUNSON (1979) synonymized N. c. taeniata with N. c. compressicauda, proposing that it was a pattern variant of the latter. LAWSON (1991) resurrected N. c. taeniata based on allozyme data.

Ecology: Nerodia clarkii is the only North American snake species restricted to a brackish water environment and has evolved behavioral (Pettus 1963) and physiological (Dunson 1980) specializations associated with a salt tolerance.

Habitat: at least partially coastal and thus considered (partially) “marine”. See also Ecology. 
EtymologyNamed after Lieutenant ]ohn Henry Clark (1830-1885), an American surveyor, naturalist, collector, and a zoologist on the U.S./Mexican Border Survey (1850-1855). Under the auspices of the Smithsonian, he conducted the Texas Boundary Survey (1860). 
  • Allen, Morrow J. 1932. A survey of the Amphibians and reptiles of Harrison County, Mississippi. American Museum Novitates (542): 1-20 - get paper here
  • Ashton, R.E., Jr., and Ashton, P.S. 1982. Handbook of reptiles and amphibians of Florida. Pt. I. Snakes. Windward PubI., Inc., Miami: 176 pp.
  • Baird, S. F. and C. Girard. 1853. Catalogue of North American Reptiles in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Part 1.-Serpents. Smithsonian Inst., Washington, xvi + 172 pp. - get paper here
  • Barbour, Thomas;Noble, Gladwyn Kingsley 1915. Notes on the water snake Natrix compressicauda. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 1915 (January): 29-35 - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Burbrink FT, Futterman I. 2019. Female‐ biased gape and body-size dimorphism in the New World watersnakes (tribe: Thamnophiini) oppose predictions from Rensch's rule. Ecol Evol. 00:1–10
  • Conant,R. & Collins,J.T. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin (Boston/New York), xx + 450 p.
  • Cope, E.D. 1895. On some North American Snakes. American Naturalist 29: 676-680 - get paper here
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • DiMeo, Mark Alexander 2019. Testing the Waters: Diversification and Selection in the Nerodia fasciata/clarkii Species Complex. MSc Thesis, Clemson University, 3202 - get paper here
  • Dixon, James R. 2000. Amphibians and reptiles of Texas, second edition. Texas A&M University Press, 421 pp.
  • Dunson WA 1980. The relation of sodium and water balance to survival in sea water of estuarine and freshwater races of the snakes Nerodia fasciata, N. sipedon and N. valida. Copeia 1980:268–280 - get paper here
  • Dunson, William A. 1979. Occurrence of partially striped forms of the mangrove snake Nerodia fasciata compressicauda Kenicott and comments on the status of N. f. taeniata Cope. Florida Scientist 42: 102-112 - get paper here
  • Duran M 2021. An annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of North Padre Island, Texas, USA, with comparisons to adjacent barrier island and mainland herpetofauna. ZooKeys 1073: 119-175 - get paper here
  • Enge, Kevin M. 2009. Venomous and non-venomous snakes of Florida. Publication of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. 16 pp.
  • Garman,Samuel 1884. The reptiles and batrachians of North America. Mem. Mus. comp. Zool, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 8 (3): xxxiv + 185 pp. [1883] [CNAH reprint 10] - get paper here
  • Gibbons, J. W. & Mike Dorcas 2004. North American Water Snakes. University of Oklahoma Press, 496 pp.
  • Guyer, Craig; Mark A. Bailey, and Robert H. Mount 2018. Lizards and snakes of Alabama. University of Alabama Press, 397 pp. - get paper here
  • Hanseknecht, K.A. 2008. Lingual Luring by Mangrove Saltmarsh Snakes (Nerodia clarkii compressicauda) Journal of Herpetology 42 (1): 9-15. - get paper here
  • Hawthorne, William H. & Jeffrey M. Goessling 2020. A Test of Tradeoffs between Performance and Immunity in Water Snakes (Nerodia clarkii X Nerodia fasciata). Copeia 108 (3): 453-458 - get paper here
  • Holbrook, Joshua D., Thomas Chesnes, Hannah Boss, Amanda Berman, Jeff Chiyka, Christopher Bell and Caleb Bell. 2016. Geographic Distribution: Nerodia clarkii compressicauda (Mangrove Saltmarsh Watersnake). Herpetological Review 47 (1): 84 - get paper here
  • Jansen, Kevin P.; Henry R. Mushinsky & Stephen A. Karl 2008. Population genetics of the mangrove salt marsh snake, Nerodia clarkii compressicauda, in a linear, fragmented habitat. Conservation Genetics 9:401–410 - get paper here
  • Kennicott, R. 1860. Descriptions of new species of North American serpents in the museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 12: 328-338 - get paper here
  • Krysko, K.L., C.M. Sheehy III & J.N. Decker 2002. Cephalic dichotomy in the mangrove salt marsh snake, Nerodia clarkii compressicauda (Colubridae: Natricinae) Bull. Maryland Herpetol. Soc., 38(3): 86-87. - get paper here
  • Lawson, R. 1987. Molecular studies of Thamnophiine snakes: 1. The phylogeny of the genus Nerodia. Journal of Herpetology 21 (2): 140-157 - get paper here
  • Lawson, Robin;Meier, Albert J.;Frank, Phillip G.;Moler, Paul E. 1991. Allozyme variation and systematics of the Nerodia fasciata-Nerodia clarkii complex of water snakes (Serpentes: Colubridae). Copeia 1991 (3): 638-659 - get paper here
  • Ljustina, O., Erdmann, J.A. & Doody, J.S. 2017. Nerodia clarkii (Saltmarsh Watersnake) Retreat site / habitat use. Herpetological Review 48 (3): 678-679. - get paper here
  • Lönnberg, Einar 1894. Notes on reptiles and batrachians collected in Florida in 1892 and 1893. Proc. US Natl. Mus. 17 (1003): 317-339 - get paper here
  • Mays, Jonathan D., Enge, Kevin M., Emerick, Adam and Hill, E. Pierson 2017. New island records for reptiles in the Florida Keys, Monroe County, Florida, USA. Herpetological Review 48 (1): 145-146 - get paper here
  • McCardle, Logan D., Anthony Haase and Clifford L. Fontenot, Jr. 2014. Geographic Distribution: Nerodia clarkii (gulf salt marsh snake). Herpetological Review 45 (1): 95 - get paper here
  • Mehrtens, J.M. 1987. Living snakes of the world in color. Sterling Publ. Co., hic., New York, NY: 480 pp.
  • Mullin, S.J. 1994. Life History Characteristics of Nerodia clarkii compressicauda at Placido Bayou, Florida Journal of Herpetology 28 (3): 371-374. - get paper here
  • Neill, W.T. 1965. Notes on aquatic snakes, Natrix and Tretanorhi nus, in Cuba. Herpetologica 21 (1): 62-67. - get paper here
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  • Rautsaw, Rhett M.; Tristan D. Schramer, Rachel Acuña, Lindsay N. Arick, Mark DiMeo, Kathryn P. Mercier, Michael Schrum, Andrew J. Mason, Mark J. Margres,, Jason L. Strickland, and<br />Christopher L. Parkinson 2020. Genomic Adaptations to Salinity Resist Gene Flow in the Evolution of Floridian Watersnakes. Molecular Biology and Evolution Article - get paper here
  • Rodríguez Schettino, Lourdes, Carlos A. Mancina & Vilma Rivalta González 2013. REPTILES OF CUBA: CHECKLIST AND GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTIONS. Smithsonian Herp. Inf. Serv. (144): 1-96 - get paper here
  • Schwartz, A. & Henderson, R.W. 1991. Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, 720 pp.
  • Siegel, Dustin S.; Stanley E. Trauth, Justin L. Rheubert, Brian Rabe, Brenton Ruopp, Aurélien Miralles, Christopher M. Murray, and Robert D. Aldridge 2014. Novel Cloacal Glands in Snakes: The Phylogenetic Distribution of Ventral Urodaeal Glands in Thamnophiini. Herpetologica 70 (3): 279-289. - get paper here
  • Tennant, A. 2003. Snakes of North America - Eastern and Central Regions, revised edition. Lone Star Books, 605 pp.
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  • Wright, A. H., & Wright, A. A. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada 1. Constable, London, xviii + 564 pp. - get paper here
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