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Yellow-bellied Watersnake

Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster


Yellow-bellied watersnakes have: yellow bellies. Usually they are charcoal gray without markings or pattern on their backs, and the yellow belly may be bright or a lighter white/yellow. They WILL bite, and their saliva has anti-coagulant properties which causes the bite to bleed. These snakes are often confused with cottonmouths (VENOMOUS), but watersnakes are NOT venomous. Often people mistake watersnakes because they share habitats and behaviors: both like water, both can often be found basking on rocks or logs, and both will bite when harassed. Although watersnakes do NOT have the typical triangular head of a venomous snake, they will flatten their heads which can be mistaken for the triangular head. This is a defensive reaction, and you can see that in my 3rd photo.


Watersnakes like water, which can mean rivers, streams, bays, ponds and sloughs. They can often be found basking in branches of trees or bushes along waterways (they can climb), as well as sunny rocks, logs, or sandy/rocky beaches along waterways. This one was found at Dewey Wills WMA, basking on a pile of leaf litter. Typical habitat for the area is bottomland hardwood forest, with a dense palmetto understory.


We found this snake when collecting data for my masters project. Although watersnakes are non-venomous, they should only be handled by someone with experience, as they WILL bite (they are aggressive).

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Spotted by

Alexandria, Louisiana, USA

Spotted on May 16, 2013
Submitted on Aug 25, 2013

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