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threatened and/or endangered

Southern Water Snake Nerodia fasciata


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Southern Water Snake, Broad-banded subspecies
credit: Nerodia Fasciata

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Family: Colubridae, Colubrid Snakes view all from this family

Description Gray, green-gray or brown in color with dark cross-banding. Many specimens are so dark in color their patterning is barely discernible. They have a flat head, and are fairly heavy bodied.

Dimensions 56-158.8cm. (22-62 1/2")

Warning All water snakes in the genus Nerodia will bite if harassed. Their bite is not venomous. The Southern is commonly mistaken for the venomous Cottonmouth. It defends itself vigorously when disturbed.

Subspecies Banded - brown/black or red crossbands. North Carolina to Florida panhandle coastal plain and Alabama.
Broad-banded - 11-17 crossbands. Blotches on belly, yellow interspaces. Alabama, Mississippi River to Texas and Illinois.
Florida - side spotted, belly has red/black markings. Florida peninsular to panhandle and Alabama, also Texas.

Breeding Breeds January-Februay, 2-57 live young, 18-27cm (7-10"), born June-August.

Habitat Freshwater. Lakes, ponds, streams, swamps, marshes. Rarely also brackish water.

Range North Carolina to Florida coastal plain, Texas, Mississippi River Valley and Illinois.

Discussion Often mistaken for a cottonmouth. Mostly nocturnal after rainfall. Hides under forest debris and logs. Diet of frogs, tadpoles, fish and small aquatic creatures. Sometimes hybridises with Northern Water Snake.