Nerodia fasciata - Visit ITIS for full scientific classification.
- Dark-colored, heavy-bodied snakes.
- Can be black, brown, tan, reddish, yellowish, or gray in color, with crossbands.
- Coloration varies between the three subspecies: Florida, Banded, and Broad-banded.
- Bellies are marked with square or triangular shaped markings.
- Possible for individuals to get up to 5 feet long.
- Not a venomous snake, but they can aggressively bite and discharge a musky, foul-smelling substance when threatened.
- Found in a wide variety of freshwater habitats including: ponds, lakes, ditches, streams, rivers, etc.
- Also found in some brackish water habitats including swamps and marshes.
- Usually found basking in the sun, or hiding in burrows or under vegetation.
Invasion Pathways and Distribution
- Watersnakes make poor pets, but are still found in the pet trade.
- Therefore, the most likely pathway of introduction to non-native areas is release from pet owners.
- Native to Florida and the eastern U.S.
- Now found in some areas of California.
- See USGS for a map of current U.S. distribution.
- Mothers retain eggs internally and give birth to live young in the summer and fall.
- Juveniles are paler and have stronger patterns than the adults.
- Other details including life span, litter size, and mating behaviors may differ between subspecies.
- Predators that feed on a variety of different animals including fish, amphibians, worms, turtles, birds, etc.
- Individuals can travel across land for over a mile to find more food and new habitats.
- Their ability to disperse, in combination with their tolerance for brackish water, as well as their varied diet, gives them the potential to threaten native species including California's garter snakes.
References and Useful Links
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