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Cemophora coccinea


Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Dutch:


Common Names in English:

Scarletsnake, Florida Scarlet Snake, Northern Scarlet Snake, Scarlet Snake, Texas Scarlet Snake

Common Names in German:


Common Names in Ukrainian:

Червоний вуж


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Family Colubridae

The family Colubridae, which includes the kingsnakes (Lampropeltis spp. ), is the largest, most widespread, and diverse family of snakes , with few physical characteristics universal among all species. The family contains 70 percent of the known species of snakes, with more than 1700 species worldwide (Pough et al. 1998). Although some colubrids are dangerously venomous , most are harmless to humans. [1]

Physical Description

Species Cemophora coccinea

Scarlet Snakes are 14 to 30 in. (36-76 cm) long, with a pointed snout.


Scarlet snakes are found in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont of North Carolina but are generally rare in the Piedmont. They generally inhabit Oak and Pine forests with loose , sandy soil. Scarlet snakes are generally nocturnal and are seldom encountered above ground in the day.

Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 310 meters (0 to 1,017 feet).[2]

Ecology: This secretive, semi-fossorial snake inhabits hardwood , mixed, or pine forest/woodland and adjacent open areas with sandy or loamy well-drained soils (Behler and King 1979, Trauth et al. 2004). Specific habitats include pine flatwoods, dry or dry prairie, salt grass prairie, maritime hardwood hammock, bottomland forest , sandhills , margins of irrigation canals in sawgrass prairies, borders of swamps and ploughed fields , abandoned fields, and roadsides (Tennant 1984, 1997; Werler and Dixon 2000). Individuals are sometimes found under rocks or in or under logs . Eggs are laid under moist humus (Minton 1972) or in other underground sites.[3].

List of Habitats:


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Scarlet snakes feed primarily on reptile eggs but they also eat small snakes, and lizards and insects.


Scarlet snakes lay 3 to 8 elongated eggs during June.


This snake is rarely encountered because it is nocturnal and spends a great deal of time underground.


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Cemophora coccinea — Allen 1932 • Cemophora coccinea — Conant & Collins 1991: 213 • Cemophora coccinea — Crother 2000: 57 • Coluber coccineus Blumenbach 1788: 10 • Rhinostoma coccineus Holbrook 1842: 125 • Simotes coccineus DumÉril Bibron & DumÉril 1854: 637


Name Status: Accepted Name .

The subspecies Cemophora cocchinae lineri was proposed as a distinct species by Collins (1991), but he did not present supporting data . This proposal has not been adopted by other authorities, including Collins and Taggart (2002). Crother et al. (2000) suggested that further study of variation in this species, particularly on both sides of the Mississippi embayment , likely would result in "considerable taxonomic change".[3].

Similar Species

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Like the similar scarlet kingsnake, the scarlet snake's coloration is thought to mimic the venomous Coral Snake. However, while coral snakes have black-yellow-red, bands, scarlet and scarlet kingsnakes have red-black yellow, hence the well-known rhyme: "red-on-black, venom lack, red-on-yellow, kill a fellow". Scarlet snakes have smooth scales and a while belly, unlike scarlet kingsnakes whose bands continue completely around their body.

Members of the genus Cemophora

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 4 species and subspecies in this genus:

C. coccinea (Scarletsnake) · C. coccinea coccinea (Florida Scarlet Snake) · C. coccinea copei (Northern Scarlet Snake) · C. coccinea lineri (Scarlet Snake)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal February 27, 2008:



  1. Painter, Charles W., Chuck L. Hayes, and James N. Stuart "Recovery and Conservation of the Gray-Banded Kingsnake. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. May 1, 2002. [back]
  2. Mean = 26.170 meters (85.860 feet), Standard Deviation = 171.330 based on 12 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
  3. Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Cemophora coccinea. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 January 2012. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-06