Texas Scarlet Snake

By Craig McIntyre, certified Texas Master Naturalist

TEXAS SCARLET SNAKE, Cemophora coccinea lineri

TEXAS SCARLET SNAKE, Cemophora coccinea lineri

As we Mid-Coast Master Naturalists know, there are a number of unusual and rare plant and animal species in our Coastal Bend area. One of these is the Texas Scarlet snake. This small colorful snake has been recorded up to 26 inches in length. Texas Parks and Wildlife lists the Texas Scarlet snake as a Threatened and protected species. Consider yourself fortunate if you ever see one.

Back in April, during our rainy spring, I found this specimen in a residential area of Rockport. These snakes lead a very secretive and mainly subterranean existence and are seldom seen. Their preferred habitat seems to be coastal—loose, sandy soils, oak mottes, etc.

Texas Scarlet snake has been documented in only 8 counties in the entire state of Texas; in a few of those counties by only a single specimen.  In our Mid-Coast Master Naturalist boundaries, they have been found in San Patricio, Aransas, Calhoun, and Matagorda counties. The other counties are Kenedy, Brooks, Jim Hogg, and Nueces. There are several records from Rockport and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

I found this snake very close to one of the new Aransas Pathways projects. These now-preserved pockets of native habitat may be very important to the future survival of species like the Texas Scarlet snake.