Saltmarsh Snake

Nerodia clarkii (State Status: S3; vulnerable)


Saltmarsh Snakes are harmless brackish-water specialists native to the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast of Florida. In Mississippi they can be identified as having two yellow or cream dorsal lines and blotches, typical of the Gulf Saltmarsh Snake subspecies. Belly is usually marked with a single row of white spots or crescents. Scales are strongly keeled, as they are in all Nerodia. Juveniles may be brighter than adults. An adult may reach 15 – 30 inches in length (Powell et al., 2016). Saltmarsh Snakes are only found on the coastline in water and marsh habitats with mild to high salinity. They primarily eat fish. 

Gulf Saltmarsh Snake moving across a coastal roadway, Cameron Par. (LA) © CJ Hillard

Identifying Traits

  • Two yellow/tan stripes on the back (differentiates from other Nerodia)
  • Single row of white markings on a dark or red belly

Subspecies Present:

Gulf Saltmarsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii clarkii)


Coastal, often saline marshes



Highly aquatic, rarely seen far away from water bodies


Fish eater