Redbelly Water Snake
Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster

Family: Natricidae - Harmless Live-Bearing Snakes

Typical Adult Size: 30 to 48 inches

Reproduction: live bearing

Eye Pupil: round

Dorsal Scales: keeled

Anal Scale: usually divided

SC Range Map

Additional Images

The Redbelly Water Snake is a subspecies of a species of nonvenomous water snakes generally known as Plainbelly Water Snakes. Plainbelly Water Snakes are found in the southern United States from Delaware to Texas, excepting pennisular Florida. In the mideast, they may be found sporadically all the way north to Michigan and in the midwest, from Texas to Nebraska.

Adults are typically 3 to 4 feet in length. Plainbelly Water Snakes, as the name implies, have
bellies that lack dark markings typical of the other nonvenomous water snakes. These snakes are born with strong dorsal patterns that usually darken with age and become obscure.

Redbelly Watersnakes are very active and quick. They often can be found well away from water and can make rapid dashes across open areas. When cornered, they will flatten their heads and bodies. The flattened head has a very arrowhead shape.

There are three principal subspecies of Plainbelly Water Snake: Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster, Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster, and Nerodia erythrogaster transversa.

Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster is called the Redbelly Water Snake. Its belly is usually more orange than red. It is the eastern most subspecies and is the subspecies found in South Carolina.

Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster is called the Yellowbelly Water Snake. Its belly is predominately yellow. It is found in the mid southern states from Georgia to east Texas and north to Illinois.

Nerodia erythrogaster transversa is called the Blotched Water Snake. Its belly is predominately yellow. This subspecies often retains some of its dorsal pattern into adulthood. It is the western most subspecies, ranging from Texas to Nebraska.

Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta is a minor subspecies, known as the Copperbelly Water Snake. It is the northern most subspecies, occuring in disjunct populations from Kentucky to Michigan.

Additional Images:

Redbelly Water Snake, Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster
adult, 44 inches
adult, belly, 44 inches
adult, showing head flattening
adult, early Spring, hunting at night
juvenile, showing threat behavior
juvenile, 11.25 inches
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July 07, 2009
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians