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The Nerodia Taxispilota of Manatee Springs Run

A brown water snake (Nerodia taxispilota) in the vegetation lining Manatee Springs Run at the headspring of Manatee Springs State Park.

Near NW 115th Street, Chiefland, Florida: 11 October 2014

part of the Manatee Springs State Park album

Harmless and nonvenomous, the brown water snake (Nerodia taxispilota) is one of the many species of animal that I got to experience up close during an October 2014 camping trip to Manatee Springs State Park.

They are good swimmers and good climbers. I saw several swimming in Manatee Springs Run and many could be found basking in the sun on the limbs of vegetation along the run. Near the headspring where I saw the most brown water snakes, a group of park guests were swimming about fifty feet away, completely oblivious to the herpetological wonders lurking nearby.

And just as it should be too, mankind coexisting peacefully with nature. Too many people have an illogical fear of snakes in particular and irrationally promote the killing of any snake they happen upon. Then again, it is the historically classic reaction of humankind to exterminate whatever it fears or does not understand.

Although there is nothing to fear from these creatures — unless you happen to be a small fish or frog — the Florida Museum of Natural History does share a somewhat spine-tingling cautionary note regarding the brown water snake.

"The brown water snake is a good climber and can found twenty feet up in trees, though it is most frequently seen basking on tree limbs that extend above the water. When frightened by a rapidly approaching boat, it will escape by jumping off the limb into the water. Occasionally its attempt to flee comes too late and they fall not into the water, but into the boat."

With that amusing (because you are not there in the boat) thought, canoeists take note: keep your vessels clear of tree limbs extending over the surface of Florida's waterways.

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