Snakes come in all sizes and shapes, but many of them have similar colors and markings. There are various snakes that can be seen with orange bellies, and these species can look quite similar. Despite the similarities, they have different habitats, ranges, and behaviors.
4 Snakes With Orange Bellies
Across North America, you may encounter four different types of snakes with orange-colored bellies.
1. Red-bellied water snake
- Scientific name: Nerodia erythrogaster
- Appearance: blackish brown body with bright orange/reddish belly
- Range: Southeastern United States
One of the most common snakes you will encounter with a red belly is the red-bellied water snake. These snakes are semi-aquatic, and thrive in the southeastern regions of the United States.
These are one of the longest snakes on this list, with adults growing up to 48 inches long. While these types of snakes are not endangered, the subspecies, copper belly water snake, is endangered.
These snakes thrive in wetlands and swamps, and will be found near bodies of water. Red bellied water snakes also enjoy getting out of the water to bask in the sunlight. Even though these are water snakes, they are known to spend more time on land than other types of water snakes.
As a juvenile, this snake will have dark blotches, which causes them to be easily mistaken for other types of snakes. Red bellied snakes feed on various types of amphibians, and actively go hunting for them through wetlands and other wet habitats.
They will prey on toads, frogs, and salamanders. Most types of water snakes will flee into water if startled or faced with a possible threat, but these snakes don’t do that. Red bellied snakes actually escape out of the water and onto land.
2. Copperbelly water snake
- Scientific name: Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta
- Appearance: black back with orange underbelly
- Range: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana
Copper-bellied, aka copperbelly, water snakes are a subspecies of the red-bellied water snake. These snakes are found in more northern regions of the United States, such as Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.
Similarly to the red bellied, these snakes have dark brown or black bodies with an orange underbelly. This underbelly can usually be seen when looking at these snakes from the side.
Copperbelly water snakes are endangered, and need multiple types of wetlands to thrive in. These snakes also need to have access to uplands.
Amphibians, such as frogs and tadpoles, make up the majority of their diets. As adults, the copper belly water snake can reach between three and five feet long.
From the months of October to April, these snakes will go into a hibernation state underground. During spring and summer they are most active and will spend the seasons in more than one wetland.
This activity starts to fade out in September when the snakes are preparing to go underground. While it is known that this subspecies of snake starts to mate in the spring, it is unclear if they breed each year. The mating season can go into the summer. When the first hatch, the copper belly water snake can have more of a plain color.
3. Ring-necked snake
- Scientific name: Diadophis punctatus
- Appearance: black body with orange belly and orange neck ring
- Range: Florida, and nearby southern U.S. regions
Ring necked snakes are a common non venomous snake in Florida and other regions of the southern United States. These are small snakes, and they are not a threat to people or their pets. In addition to a black body and orange belly, these snakes can be identified by an orange ring around their neck.
Even as adults they are small, only reaching between 8 and 14 inches long. Some snakes could have a ring marking that is incomplete, or is not there at all.
If these snakes get scared they can roll onto their backs to show off their orange bellies, which is meant to startle away predators. They are also able to release a musky odor.
Ring necked snakes are active during the night, and can be fierce predators to smaller animals. Common prey for these snakes include insects, lizards, slugs, frogs, salamanders, and other snakes.
They can inject a small amount of venom into prey to stun them, but this venom is not dangerous to humans. Eggs for these snakes are commonly found inside or under rotting logs, and will hatch in the summer or fall.
4. Mud snake
- Scientific name: Farancia abacura
- Appearance: orange and black checkered belly, black back
- Range: southern United States
The mud snake is another orange-bellied snake that can be found in the southern United States. They can get quite long, reaching around 81 inches as adults.
Their bellies are red and black checkered, which can often be seen on the sides as well, and a black back. Mud snakes can thrive in multiple types of wet environments, from swamps to streams and ponds.
They can also travel for long distances on land, and might be found in areas that are not close to a water source. Their tail ends in a pointed tip, which may be pushed into people when they are handled, but it is harmless. Young and adult mud snakes will feed on a variety of amphibians, and adults are a common predator of giant salamanders.
Females can lay anywhere from 20 to 100 eggs at one time, and they may even stay nearby until the eggs hatch. Even though mud snakes are common in the southern United States, they are not as frequently spotted as other types of snakes.
There are multiple types of snakes that can be identified by an orange belly, but despite these similar appearances, they can be quite different.
Red bellied water snakes, copperbelly water snakes, ring necked snakes, and mud snakes are all defined by orange underbellies and darker bodies.