The South Florida rainbow snake and Florida fairy shrimp are likely to have gone extinct according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Rainbow snakes used to live in Fisheating Creek near Lake Ochochobee. Neither of these species has been seen for fifty years, so officials believe the reason for the lack of sightings is they are completely gone. They also suspect because there have been no reports about them for years, their extinction might have taken place some time ago.
Rainbow snakes are black with three red stripes. The largest South Florida one was about fifty inches long. They were mainly aquatic and rarely left water. It is thought they eat eels and amphibians. Only three specimens were ever reported and one specimen was preserved. Very little was known about the South Florida Rainbow snake.
Floria fairy shrimp reportedly lived in just one vernal or seasonal pool about four miles south of Gainesville. These are very small animals that can remain dormant in eggs lying in dried mud and withstand very high and very low temperatures. They can lie in dormancy for a very long time until rains come again to fill up their dried habitat and they can hatch. Once hatched they enter into their life cycle, generating more eggs towards the end. Development of the land where the seasonal pool was destroyed their habitat. They are not dangerous to humans. Apparently very little or no regard was employed when decisions were made to develop the land. Fortunately fairy shrimp live in other parts of the country, so there are still some remaining. The same is true of rainbow snakes. The South Florida species is gone,but there are some still living in Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, and Alabama. They are non-venomous and live mainly in swamps, creeks, streams and rivers. They are no danger to humans.
Florida has many species of wild animals and some of them are in danger of going extinct due to loss of their habitat. You probably are aware Florida panthers are endangered with an estimated 100 or so remaining. At one point they were down to just 20 or so. Through various efforts from conservation officials and being protected by law they have experienced something of a rebound, but are still in peril. Far too many are still being killed in vehicle accidents. If you want to help them make sure you don’t drive fast in South West Florida where many of the accidents are taking place, or in any area which is in their habitat. Also, you can donate to the organizations that are working to conserve them such as Defenders of Wildlife. Volunteering at a local organization might also help. No one wants the florida panthers to be driven into extinction like the Florida Rainbow snake and Florida Fairy Shrimp were.
Image Credit: Rainbow snake photo: cnr.ncsu.edu