Catching a Banded Water Snake in Hellhole Bay

By Gene Ott

On Sunday morning (May 23, 2004) Win and I chauffeured one group while Jeff lead the other. We had been road cruising for about an hour. While searching under some debris left by an fallen tree, Jeff joined us. At the log we found a Yellowbelly Slider, an Eastern Worm Snake, a Ground Skink, an Eastern Narrowmouth Toad, many newly emerged Southern Toads, and a very small Slimy Salamander.

Finishing with this site, Jeff lead us to a roadside pool where he had just seen a very large Cottonmouth. The pool was located on the downstream side of a large culvert. We did not see the Cottonmouth in the pool.

A closer inspection flushed a snake which disappeared near the culvert. Keener eyes than mine spotted the snake's head just breaking the water surface. We could tell it was a nonvenomous water snake. From the orange showing on its chin, we guessed it was a Redbelly Water Snake.

Jeff offered Win the use of his hip waders. Win suited up and waded into the pool. Jeff was concerned the large Cottonmouth might show up. Looking on the opposite end of the culvert, he spotted it. It appeared to be about four feet in length. It did not seem to be disturbed by our presence. A close look revealed the snake was missing its right eye.

Win made several unsuccessful attempts to grasp the watersnake with his clamp stick and his hand. Finally success.

After Win climbed out of the ditch, we all had a good look at the snake. It was a very beautiful Banded Water Snake. Many of the Bandeds from the swamp are very dark and dull. This one showed red side bars on a blue/black dorsum and a yellow/orange belly. And, the snake was a gravid female.

After everyone had a good look and took photographs, the snake was released into the pool.

Return to Herping in Hellhole with Holmes - 2004

May 31, 2004
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians