Common Watersnake

Nerodia sipedon


The Common Watersnake, also known as the Midland or Northern Watersnake, is found in a variety of aquatic habitats in central and eastern MS. The Midland Watersnake is the only subspecies found in the state. Base color in the body is usually brown or reddish, with separated blotching found in midland individuals. One of the most colorful watersnakes in the southeast. Belly is usually regularly patterned with red or dark colored checkers or half moons. Juveniles may be much more colorful than adults. Scales are strongly keeled, as they are in all Nerodia. Adults reach lengths of up to 4 feet, and beyond to 5 feet occasionally (Powell et al., 2016). This species is often mistaken for the venomous cottonmouth. This species nonvenomous. If confused, spending some concerted time learning venomous species will help. They primarily eat fish. 

Midland Watersnake, Forrest Co. (MS), © CJ Hillard

Identifying Traits

  • Dark markings narrower than light space between, generally reddish in hue
  • Belly with double row of half-moon marks

Subspecies Present:

Midland Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon pleuralis)


Bodies of water from rivers, to lakes, to swamps, to ditches



Highly aquatic, rarely seen far away from water bodies


Fish eater

Young Midland Watersnake, Louisiana, © Connor Reinoso
Gray individual found active in a stream, Yazoo Co. (MS)