Southern Watersnake

Nerodia fasciata


Nerodia fasciata is a harmless medium-sized watersnake found in along coastal and adjacent counties, and in drainages of the Mississippi River  Habitat examples are swamps, lakes, rivers, ponds, and ditches. The Broad-banded Watersnake exists in Mississippi River habitats and near the LA border. Labial scales are strongly barred. Patterning is often quite colorful, consisting of reddish, orange, or brown banding along the dorsum. Juveniles may be much more colorful than adults. Belly usually blotched with red checkering (see image below). Scales are strongly keeled, as they are in all Nerodia. Adults reach lengths of up to 4 feet (Powell et al., 2016). This species is often mistaken for the venomous cottonmouth. This species nonvenomous. If confused, spending some time really learning venomous species will help. They primarily eat fish. 

Southern Watersnake crossing a sandy road between wetlands, Harrison Co. (MS)

Identifying Traits

  • Mild to very thick banding along the body
  • Belly checkered red

Subspecies Present:

Broad-banded Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata confluens)

(Southeast MS is an intergradation zone between subspecies, only certain areas have true N. f. confluens morphology)


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



Highly aquatic, rarely seen far away from water bodies


Fish eater

A subadult individual actively hunting in a wetland, South Mississippi
Ventral pattern, South Mississippi
Juvenile N. fasciata, South Mississippi
Broad-banded Watersnake, Tangipahoa Par. (LA)
Adult close to shedding, South Mississippi
Juvenile Broad-banded Watersnake, Tangipahoa Par. (LA)