Wildlife Informer is reader-supported. When you click and buy we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

7 Types of Water Snakes in Mississippi 

Mississippi is a state overflowing with an abundance of water. The low-lying state has rivers, streams, lakes, swamps, and a coast that supports many species of wildlife. Water snakes live in and around these areas. Keep reading this article to learn more about Mississippi’s true water snakes species and where to keep an eye out for them.

Photo collage water snakes in mississippi

7 Water Snakes in Mississippi

For the purposes of this article, water snakes refers to only true water snakes. These snakes are members of the genus Nerodia. They spend most of their lives in and around water. These snakes make their home in bodies of water and find prey in the nearby environment.

The seven water snakes in Mississippi are Salt Marsh Snakes, Green Water Snakes, Plain-bellied Water Snakes, Banded Water Snakes, Diamondback Water Snakes, Common Water Snakes, and Brown Water Snakes. These snakes’ favorite habitats are aquatic environments and the land close to the water’s edge. 

1. Salt Marsh Snake

Salt marsh snake slithering
Salt marsh snake slithering | image by Ashley Wahlberg (Tubbs) via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific name: Nerodia clarkii
  • Length: 15” to 30”
  • Venomous: No

The Salt Marsh Snakes have dark colored scales. Tell them apart from other snakes thanks to the two yellow or tan stripes that run from the top of the head to the tail. They are sometimes killed when they get mistaken for venomous water moccasins.

Three subspecies of the Salt Marsh Snake exist. They’re divided based on their geographical region. One lives along the Gulf Coast, another lives in mangrove forests, and the third lives along the Atlantic coastline. If you see a Salt Marsh Snake in Mississippi, it’s most likely the Gulf Coast subspecies.

This snake lives in the salty and brackish marshes near the coast. It hunts for prey like crabs, small fish, and shrimp. They are most active at night. In Mississippi, they live near the coastline in the southernmost part of the state.

2. Green Water Snake

Green water snake
Green water snake | image by Glenn Bartolotti via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Scientific name: Nerodia cyclopion
  • Length: 30” to 55”
  • Venomous: No

The Green Water Snake is also called the “Mississippi Green Water Snake.” This snake is olive green in color with a yellow belly. Snakes have narrow stripe-like markings on their sides. These alternating ‘stripes’ don’t encircle the snake; they are incomplete markings.

This snake prefers freshwater environments where the bodies of water are peaceful and move slowly. They eat amphibians, fish, and large invertebrates, such as crayfish. Females are bigger than the males. Because they are solitary, the only time to see groups of them together is during breeding season, when they congregate on land.

Look for them on the Gulf Coast and along the Mississippi River on the state’s western border.

3. Plain-bellied Water Snake

Plain-bellied water snake
Plain-bellied water snake | image by Northeast Coastal & Barrier Network via Flickr | CC-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Nerodia erythrogaster
  • Length: 24” to 40”
  • Venomous: No

The Plain-bellied Water snakes are robust nonvenomous snakes that are usually dark in color. Tell them apart from other water snakes by way of their red or yellow underbelly. There are 6 subspecies, some of which have different colored bellies.

You may also like:  How Do Snakes Give Birth? - Snake Reproduction Explained

Find this snake in and around permanent sources of water. They prefer lakes and ponds to mountain streams. Most of their prey – frogs, fish, and salamanders – live in the water. They live throughout Mississippi and are very common in all but the northeast corner of the state.

4. Banded Water Snake

Banded water snake resting
Banded water snake resting
  • Scientific name: Nerodia fasciata
  • Length: 24” to 42”
  • Venomous: No

The Banded Water Snakes are also known as Southern Water Snakes. This snake is dark green, gray, or brown. They have minimal light-yellow scale patterns. To defend themselves from predators, they emit unpleasant-smelling musk to repulse them.

Banded water snakes live along the edges and shallows of lakes, ponds, and streams. Most of their diet consists of frogs and fish. Larger snakes may even eat small turtles. They live along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and north along the Mississippi River.

5. Diamondback Water Snake

Diamondback Water Snake
Diamondback Water Snake | k.draper | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific name: Nerodia rhombifer
  • Length: 30” to 48”
  • Venomous: No

The Diamondback Water Snake was so named because of the diamond-like pattern of the scales along its back. They are brown or dark green and have yellow bellies. They are often killed when people accidentally mistake them for water moccasins.

The Diamondback Water Snake live in slow-moving or stagnant bodies of water with abundant nearby vegetation. This snake has a unique way of hunting its prey. It hangs from low tree branches, dip their head under water, and wait for a fish to pass by. It is one of the most common water snakes found throughout the entire state of Mississippi.

6. Common Water Snake

Northern water snake basking
Northern water snake basking | image by via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Nerodia sipedon
  • Length: 30” to 48”
  • Venomous: No

A Common Water Snake has a dark back and a light belly. Their scale patterns include darker blotches and cross-bands. This nonvenomous species of snake is often killed because it looks like two venomous snakes – the copperhead and the water moccasin.

This snake lives in the vegetation and shallow water on the edges of ponds, rivers, and lakes. They hunt regardless of daytime or nighttime, but they prefer to stalk terrestrial creatures during the day and hunt fish at night.

Common Water Snakes are also known by the name Northern Water Snake. They are native to most of Mississippi, except the Mississippi River corridor along the state’s northwestern border.

7. Brown Water Snake

Brown water snake on log
Brown water snake on log | image by Kelly Verdeck via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific name: Nerodia taxispilota
  • Length: 30” to 60”
  • Venomous: No

The Brown Water Snakes have a brown back and a yellow belly. They have black partial stripes along their sides. Even though they are common within their range, little is known about them. People often mistake them for water moccasins.

This snake prefers to call stagnant and slow-moving waters home. It prefers low-lying areas of elevations from sea level up to 500 feet. Historically, their range reaches into the southeast corner of Mississippi.

You may also like:  Truffles in the United States

Most of its diet is made up of fish, especially catfish. They spend most of their lives on their own, but breeding season leads them to congregate in groups. Snakes pair off and climb into trees, where they mate. Baby snakes are born live and left to fend for themselves immediately after birth.