“Brown Water Snake” These snakes are nonvenomous and not aggressive
The Brown water snake is a large nonvenomous snake native to the southeastern United States.
It is very heavy-bodied, and its neck is distinctly narrower than its head.
Dorsally, it is brown or rusty brown with a row of about 25 black or dark brown, square blotches down its back.
Smaller similar blotches alternate on the sides. Ventrally, it is yellow, heavily marked with black or dark brown.
Dorsal scales are in 27-33 rows, and it has two to four anterior temporals.
– Distribution –
Brown water snakes are found in lower coastal regions from southeastern Virginia, through North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, to northern and western Florida (Gulf Coast), then west through Missouri, Alabama, and Mississippi, to Louisiana.
They are also very common in Michigan. These snakes live in swamps, canals, rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams.
– Habits and Lifestyle –
Brown water snakes are mostly diurnal but in mid-summer, they may switch to nocturnal activity.
They lead a solitary life and interact with each other only during the breeding season.
Brown water snakes are ambush predators but may also hunt by actively searching for prey along the edges of water bodies or on the bottom of rivers or streams.
These wate snakes are very good climbers and swimmers; they may often be seen basking on logs or tree branches or on bushes above the water and if threatened they will retreat into the water to escape danger.
– Diet and Nutrition –
Brown water snakes are carnivores (piscivores). They feed primarily on catfish but may also consume crayfish, small lizards, and frogs.
– Mating Habits –
Brown water snakes are polygynandrous (promiscuous) meaning that both the males and the females mate with multiple partners.
The breeding season takes place in spring. Females give birth to 30-40 live young, usually in August.
The newborns are independent at birth and do not require parental care.
Females become reproductively mature between 5 and 6 years of age while males start to breed when they are 3 years old.
– Population threats –
There are no major threats facing Brown water snakes at present.
However, they suffer from the pollution of their habitat and are often killed by people who mistake them for venomous cottonmouth.
– Population number –
According to IUCN, the Brown water snake is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available.
Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.