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Rainbow Snake Seen In Florida’s Ocala National Forest For First Time Since 1969

Snakes make us really uncomfortable. Most people are afraid of the thought of seeing a snake. Well, snakes are gorgeous. These reptiles are considered a symbol of rebirth, transformation, immortality and healing in many cultures.

They are close relatives to lizard, crocodiles and turtles. According to zoologist, there are over 3,000 types of snakes, and they are “scattered” in forests, deserts, oceans, streams and lakes.

Well, a hiker spotted the most unusual snake in the Ocala National Forest located north of Orlando. Many thought that these snakes have disappeared from the area five decades ago.

Tracey Cauthen spotted a beautiful rainbow snake. The Farancia erytrogramma she spotted was four feet long. According to experts from The Florida Museum of Natural History, it was the first rainbow snake spotted in Marion County since 1969.

“Adults are large and thick-bodied,” experts said. “The back is iridescent blue-black with a bright red stripe down the middle and an additional reddish-pink stripe on each side.

The lower sides of the body are yellow or pink fading into the red belly. Black spots on each belly scale form three lines of dots down the belly. The chin and throat are yellow.”

An average rainbow snake grows about 3 feet and 6 inches. These beauties are nonvenomous and harmless. The rainbow snake can actually press its pointed tail against your skin, but “the tail is totally harmless and cannot sting or even break the skin.”

According to experts from The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, “rainbow snakes are highly-aquatic, spending most of their life hidden amongst aquatic vegetation; seldom seen, even by herpetologists, due to their cryptic habits. Burrowing near creeks, lakes, marshes, and tidal mudflats, rainbow snakes specialize in eating eels, earning the nickname ‘eel moccasin.’”

Rainbow snakes swim and feed on frogs, tadpoles and amphibians. They are rare, but their population thrives. These snakes are listed as a species of “least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

In 2011, a subspecies, the South Florida rainbow snake (Farancia erytrogramma seminola), was considered extinct. It lived in the Lake Okeechobee region in southern Florida.

Seeing a snake is the least desired scenario. What should you do?

According to Dr. Nicholas Kman, professor of emergency medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, “the first thing to do is get away from the snake — don’t try to capture it, that’s just going to provide the potential for more people to get hurt.

And then, they should immediately seek medical treatment, because these symptoms can progress rapidly. We watch for redness, swelling, blistering, warmth and then signs of nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and low blood pressure. If we start to see those, we administer the antivenom.”

Three million people are bitten by venomous snakes. These bites can cause organ failure, uncontrollable bleeding, severe tissue damage, and paralysis that can restrict breathing.

Here’s what you should do if you are bitten by a snake:

– Seek help. Clean the wound and raise the affected limb. Stay calm and don’t move to avoid spreading the venom.

– Do not even try to suck out the venom.

“I’ve seen cases of hand bites where someone cut their hand and cut through a tendon,” Kman said. “Venom is going to be absorbed into the body right away, so all you’re going to do is cause more trauma. You shouldn’t ice the bite, steroids shouldn’t be used, there’s a lot of things people do that aren’t going to help a snakebite, and are probably going to make the patient worse.”

– Don’t apply a tourniquet if the snake that bit you is native to North America. The venom causes excessive bleeding and muscle necrosis.

Dr. Dan Brooks, medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center in Phoenix, Arizona said, “Putting a tourniquet on can actually increase local injury, and people can lose fingers or toes or need skin grafts.”