Ben here with the Friday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with the Friday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with the Friday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Today we're looking at our number one pick for the rarest snake in Virginia: Liodytes rigida rigida, the eastern glossy swamp snake!

This snake is actually responsible for inspiring Herp Month! I was poking around the website of the Virginia Herpetological Society one day when I saw the entry for this snake, and I was struck by its unusual distribution, which ultimately inspired the idea of a whole month devoted to Virginia's rarest reptiles and amphibians.

So what was it that struck me about its distribution? This snake is mostly found in the southeastern Coastal Plain, from northern Florida along the coast up to North Carolina. And then, for whatever reason, there just happens to be one isolated population of these snakes in New Kent County, Virginia, which represents the northern extent of their range. In fact, until 1991, this snake hadn't even been observed in Virginia for more than 50 years! The New Kent County population seems to be stable, but with such a small population, care needs to be taken to make sure these snakes aren't extirpated from Virginia.

Unlike the other snakes we've looked at this week, the eastern glossy swamp snake is highly aquatic and is found in or near tidal marshes on the coast. In other parts of its range further south, it's been found near cypress ponds, streams, and at pond edges. These snakes mainly feed on crayfish, so an aquatic lifestyle is a must! They've also been observed to feed on dragonfly larvae, frogs and toads, and fish.

As January winds to a close, I realize that regular readers of these nature posts are probably quite sad that Herp Month is over ... which is why I'm happy to announce that IT ISN'T! Next week, we'll be counting down the top five rarest turtles in Virginia! So please continue enjoying Herp Month, the only month in history that contains five full weeks!

Thank you to the Virginia Herpetological Society ( for the use of this photo, which was taken by J.D. Willson.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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