A rare rainbow snake sighting was made recently in the Ocala National Forest, according to a Facebook post from the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
Tracey Cauthen happened upon the 4-foot snake while hiking, the post states.
It marks the first time this species has been spotted in Marion County since 1969, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Rainbow snakes are seldom seen because they hide among aquatic vegetation and burrow near creeks, lakes, marshes and tidal mudflats.
Biologists from the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute believe the recent drawdown of the Rodman Reservoir forced this snake to leave its habitat.
Rainbow snakes are sometimes called “eel moccasins,” because they specialize in eating eels.
They are non-venomous. If one is captured, it may press its pointed tail tip into a person’s hand. But the tail is harmless and cannot sting or even break the skin, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Rainbow snakes live throughout the Florida Panhandle and northern peninsula, south along the St. John’s River to northern central Florida, according to the museum. Disjunct populations have been reported from the Tampa Bay area.