Water snakes can be found in Indiana’s waterways, including rivers, lakes, and swamps. They play a crucial role in the state’s ecosystem by controlling the populations of amphibians, fish, and other prey. Indiana has several species of water snakes, including the Northern water snake, the Midland water snake, and the Banded water snake, each with distinct physical characteristics and behaviors.
Most species of aquatic snakes in Indiana are non-venomous, all true water snakes are non-venomous. However, they are often misunderstood and feared by humans, leading to negative perceptions and sometimes unnecessary harm. It’s important to educate ourselves about these creatures and appreciate the important role they play in the environment. This article details five water snake species found in Indiana.
5 Water Snakes in Indiana
1. Northern Water Snake
Scientific Name: Nerodia sipedon
The Northern water snake is one of the most commonly found species of water snake in Indiana. They are typically found near slow-moving bodies of water, such as rivers, swamps, and lakes, and are well-adapted to life in and around the water. These snakes are highly variable in color, ranging from light brown to dark brown or even black, with distinctive darker crossbands or blotches along their bodies.
They can grow up to several feet in length, with most adults measuring around 3.5 feet. Northern water snakes are known for their strong, muscular bodies and powerful swimming abilities. Northern water snakes are non-venomous and feed on various prey, including fish, amphibians, and small mammals.
Although they are often mistaken for venomous species and may exhibit defensive behaviors, they are generally harmless to humans and play an important role in controlling the populations of their prey.
2. Midland Water Snake
Scientific Name: Nerodia sipedon pleuralis
The Midland water snake is another species of water snake commonly found in Indiana. They are similar in appearance to the Northern water snake, with a similar range of color patterns with crossbands or blotches on their bodies. However, the Midland water snake is typically smaller in size, growing to an average length of two to three feet.
These snakes are found in a variety of habitats, including rivers, streams, and wetlands, and are known for their excellent swimming abilities. Like the Northern water snake, the Midland water snake is non-venomous and feeds on a variety of prey, including fish, amphibians, and small mammals. They are active during the day and night and are often seen basking on logs or rocks near the water’s edge.
Despite their harmless nature, humans sometimes fear and kill Midland water snakes due to their tendency to exhibit defensive behaviors when threatened. It is important to understand and appreciate these fascinating creatures and their important role in the ecosystem.
3. Red-Bellied Water Snake
Scientific Name: Nerodia erythrogaster
The Red-bellied water snake is a species of non-venomous water snake found in Indiana. As its name suggests, these snakes have a distinctive red or orange belly, which sets them apart from other species of water snakes in the state. They have a dark, smooth, and shiny appearance with light-colored crossbands on their back.
Red-bellied water snakes can grow up to three feet in length and are well adapted to life in and around the water. They are found in a variety of habitats, including rivers, swamps, and lakes, and feed on prey such as fish, amphibians, and small mammals.
Like other water snake species in Indiana, the Red-bellied water snakes are often feared and, unfortunately, killed by humans due to their tendency to exhibit defensive behaviors when threatened. It is important to remember this species is non-venomous as well as beneficial to the environment in which it lives.
4. Diamondback Water Snake
Scientific Name: Nerodia rhombifer
The Diamondback water snake is another species of non-venomous water snake found in Indiana. These snakes are characterized by the diamond-shaped crossbands along their bodies, which can be a dark brown, gray, or black color. They have a smooth, glossy appearance and can grow up to four feet in length.
Diamondback water snakes are typically found in slow-moving bodies of water, such as swamps, marshes, and rivers, and are excellent swimmers. They feed primarily on fish and are active during the day and night. Although they are harmless to humans, Diamondback water snakes are sometimes feared due to their defensive behavior when threatened.
5. Banded Water Snake
Scientific Name: Nerodia fasciata
Banded water snakes are characterized by distinctive crossbands of dark brown or black along their bodies, which are bordered by lighter-colored scales. This non-venomous water snake species can grow up to three feet in length. They’re often found near slow-moving bodies of water, such as rivers, streams, and swamps in Indiana.
Banded water snakes are strong swimmers and feed on a variety of prey, including fish, amphibians, and small mammals.