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Diamond-back Water Snake

Updated on August 23, 2017
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Louisiana has abundant wildlife, including reptiles such as snakes and turtles. All are welcome in Yvonne's backyard wildlife habitat.

Source

Reptile: Nerodia rhombifera Photographs

The Diamond-back (or backed) Water Snake is a long, heavy-bodied, tan to grayish brown non-venomous (non-poisonous) reptile with a pattern of dark brown to black chain like markings. The belly is yellow, but with dusky brown markings. As the name implies it lives in slow moving waters and is found all over Louisiana.

These beautiful snakes eat fish, frogs, toads, eels and very few birds. Many of these attractive non-venomous reptiles are killed by uninformed humans who mistake them for the venomous Cottonmouth or Copperhead snake.

You will find information about and photographs (taken by the author) of this large, brown reptile on this page, including some action shots of it hunting in the water.

Photos on this page copyright Y.L. Bordelon aka naturegirl7, All rights reserved

The Diamondback Water Snake

is a beautifully patterned non-poisonous snake. The almost triangular shape of it's head can be deceiving to the novice and it is often confused with water moccasins. It's round eyes, lack of pits above the eyes and long, thinner tail distinguish it from the venomous Cottonmouth Moccasin.

Water Snakes of North America

Learn more about the many species of water snakes in North America.

Diamond back water snake capture
Diamond back water snake capture | Source

Diamondbacked Water Snakes in our Habitat

Since our wildlife habitat is located along the Tchefuncte River, we often see many water snakes, but the largest and most interesting one that lives around the river is the Diamondback Water Snake. This snake can grow to 63 inches and we have several this size. They mate in the spring and have live young from early August to late October.

We have been lucky enough to photograph this attractive snake both in and out of the water. They like to bask in the sun on over hanging branches or cling to a submerged branch to lie in wait while hunting. Where we live, these skillful hunters eat primarily fish and we have observed one grab a 2 pound catfish and take it to the shore to eat it. The snake worked to try to swallow the fish for hours, until it finally gave up and tried for a perch.

Unfortunately, this beautiful, non-poisonous snake is sometimes killed because of its slightly triangular head, the untrained mistake it for the venomous Copperhead or Water Moccasin. The photos below (from "The Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana" by Harold A. Dundee and Douglas A Rossman) show the difference between the heads of the snakes.

A. Diamond-backed water snake, Nerodia rhombifera

C. Copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix

D. Cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus

Diamond back water snake
Diamond back water snake
Copperhead & Cottonmouth Compared
Copperhead & Cottonmouth Compared

Snake Identification Poll

How well can you recognize a non-venomous snake?

See results

A Water Snake's Year

A Water Snake's Year takes you through the first year in the life of a water snake. Both you and your child will enjoy the illustrations and information.

Poster by naturegirl7 on Zazzle

Diamond back watersnake testing the air with its tongue in early spring.
Diamond back watersnake testing the air with its tongue in early spring. | Source
Diamond back watersnakes often come out on warm late winter days.
Diamond back watersnakes often come out on warm late winter days. | Source

Diamond-back Water Snake Sunning on a Log

Since snakes are cold-blooded, they must take advantage of the sun to warm their bodies. That is why you will often see them stretched out on logs or curled in tree branches "sunning". We photographed this large Diamond-back Watersnake, near the Tchefuncte River, sunning on a tree that was downed during Hurricane Katrina.

To see a close up version of this magnificent snake visit Snake Pictures in Louisiana.

Source

Snakes Duel

What do you think about Water Snakes?

Diamond-back Watersnake "Fishing"

Some watersnakes hook their tails to a submerged branch and lie in wait for their prey. Here is a shot of a Diamond-back Water Snake "fishing" in the Tchefuncte River. We have observed Diamond-back's grabbing fish underwater many times. It looks strange, because, in most cases, you don't see the snake, you just see the fish as the snake whips it around in the water.

Fishing Photos - The Big One Got Away!

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Diamond-back hooked its tail around a branch. It's very still with its nose above the water.Something hits the water and the fish swim over to see if it's food.The watersnake is still motionless & looks like a branch, while the fish swim around it.Still watching and waiting.And waiting and watching...Then it goes under to strike.But misses & all the fish scatter.It goes after one, but it's too fast.It gracefully swims under water...to find another place to set up its ambush.
Diamond-back hooked its tail around a branch. It's very still with its nose above the water.
Diamond-back hooked its tail around a branch. It's very still with its nose above the water.
Something hits the water and the fish swim over to see if it's food.
Something hits the water and the fish swim over to see if it's food.
The watersnake is still motionless & looks like a branch, while the fish swim around it.
The watersnake is still motionless & looks like a branch, while the fish swim around it.
Still watching and waiting.
Still watching and waiting.
And waiting and watching...
And waiting and watching...
Then it goes under to strike.
Then it goes under to strike.
But misses & all the fish scatter.
But misses & all the fish scatter.
It goes after one, but it's too fast.
It goes after one, but it's too fast.
It gracefully swims under water...
It gracefully swims under water...
to find another place to set up its ambush.
to find another place to set up its ambush.

North American Watersnakes Book

North American Watersnakes: A Natural History (Animal Natural History Series)
North American Watersnakes: A Natural History (Animal Natural History Series)

A wonderful book from the Animal Natural History series.

 

Diamond-back Water Snake and Turtles Photos

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Out from behind a log, the giant Diamond-back water snake sticks its head up.As we throw bread to the turtles and fish, it stretches out to be ready for the strike.Its tail is curled around the log and a branch for stability against the mild current.The large snake is so well camouflaged that it looks like another fallen branch.A large catfish moves in from behind it ...and forces a slight retreat. Notice the Razor-back Musk Turtle to the right of the log.Red-eared Slider turtle and Diamond-back water snake coexist in the river.
Out from behind a log, the giant Diamond-back water snake sticks its head up.
Out from behind a log, the giant Diamond-back water snake sticks its head up.
As we throw bread to the turtles and fish, it stretches out to be ready for the strike.
As we throw bread to the turtles and fish, it stretches out to be ready for the strike.
Its tail is curled around the log and a branch for stability against the mild current.
Its tail is curled around the log and a branch for stability against the mild current.
The large snake is so well camouflaged that it looks like another fallen branch.
The large snake is so well camouflaged that it looks like another fallen branch.
A large catfish moves in from behind it ...
A large catfish moves in from behind it ...
and forces a slight retreat. Notice the Razor-back Musk Turtle to the right of the log.
and forces a slight retreat. Notice the Razor-back Musk Turtle to the right of the log.
Red-eared Slider turtle and Diamond-back water snake coexist in the river.
Red-eared Slider turtle and Diamond-back water snake coexist in the river.

Snakes of the U.S. & Canada

If you'd like to know more about the many species of snakes that inhabit the U.S. and Canada, this book is for you.

Diamond-back Water Snake Underwater Vid

This is a great video of a Diamond-back Water snake moving under water.

Diamondback Water Snake

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    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Snakes are fascinating creatures.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      Very interesting. I don't mind water snakes as long as I'm not in the water with them! I've seen some pretty aggressive water snakes.

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 5 years ago

      Great information, even though I probably will have a dream about them tonight, LOL!

    • naturegirl7s profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 5 years ago from Covington, LA

      @Bananko: Thanks. These water snakes are non-poisonous. They will bite, but do not inject any venom.

    • Bananko profile image

      Bananko 5 years ago

      Dangerous but also cute animals! I would like to have one of these :) Nice lens!

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 5 years ago

      nice lens

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 5 years ago

      great lens on reptiles.

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 5 years ago

      I really enjoy this lens. I don't hate snakes, I actually hold a python around my neck when I last visited south Florida. It was a domesticated snake but it was huge and beautiful! Great lens.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from Covington, LA

      @anonymous: It would help if you tell us the state that you live in. Also whether the rock was near water, or more about the terrain. The fact that it hatched from an egg rules out live bearing snakes like the Cottonmouth.

      Often baby snakes look a lot different from adults. A good book to check out of the library, if you live in the southern United States, is Snakes of the Southeast by Gibbons and Dorcas. It has excellent photos of both baby and adult snakes.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      ok i found a snake in my back yard under a rock in an egg and i took it inside and let it hatch ok it has a black diamond head but it also has a grey body with brown spots can any one tell me whaat kinda snake this is??

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 6 years ago from Ljubljana

      We have some snakes in our country too, but they are quite rare and we have only two venomous sorts. It looks you have pretty wild nature in Louisiana... Thanks for sharing.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from Covington, LA

      @EcoGecko LM: Thanks for commenting. Corn snakes are beautiful creatures.

      The Diamond-back Water Snake is a non-venomous snake. It has no fangs and does not inject poison when it bites.

      It is often confused with the Diamond-backed Rattlesnake because of its name and the Cottonmouth, because it lives in the same type of habitat. Both rattlesnakes and Cottonmouths are venomous pit vipers.

      I don't like to encounter them either, but Cottonmouths are all over southeastern Louisiana, so they can't be avoided.

    • EcoGecko LM profile image

      EcoGecko LM 6 years ago

      cool lens I'm lucky in that there are few types of snake where I live (about 3 I think) so unless its escaped from a private collection (heard some kids picked up a poisonous snake and took it to a pet shop not long ago to find that if they had been bitten they would have been poisoned however I guess they can't be too willing to strike out) if it has diamonds down its back it's an adder and poisonous. I have a pet corn at home so no problem with non-poisonous snakes but I don't know what I'd feel about a poisonous one because I haven't met one.

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very cool! Really liked the video of the snake underwater.

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

      i have no idea what to do if i was in the water and saw one of these swimming towards me! maybe i'll drop and roll.

    • raswook profile image

      Jeff Wendland 6 years ago from Kalamazoo, MI

      My brother moved to SW Georgia. My dad and my 6 yr old nephew were riding their bikes around in my brothers new neighborhood and they had a 5 foot diamond back ride across the street right in front of them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Another winner, very interesting and awesome pictures! I love to watch snakes, but from afar, they kinda scare me! - Kathy

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 7 years ago

      Oh, I not a snake person at all. I have a great respect for them and totally try my best to stay out of their way. One day I will wrtie about my encounters with snakes. You did a very good job writng this lens, but that is true for most of your lens! You are always very complete in whatever subject you are writing about. "Blessed by a SquidAngel"

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 7 years ago

      I LOVE nature too, and though don't particularly like being startled by a snake, do think they are beautiful and have caught, held and even kept one or two as pets for a period of time...harmless varieties. Thank you for supporting the people of Haiti by adding this lens to RocketMoms Help for Haiti:-) ~claudia

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      [in reply to inkserotica] Thank you so much for the love and the blessing! As to why they are mistaken for the poisonous ones, I think with some people it's a question of kill first and identify later.

    • profile image

      inkserotica 7 years ago

      I'm fascinated by snakes of any kind. In a way I can see the similarities between it and the more venomous snakes but not why they're mistaken. Consider yourself loved and blessed by a passing Angel :)

    • naturegirl7s profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 8 years ago from Covington, LA

      [in reply to Artemus-Gordon] Diamond-back WATERSNAKES are NON-poisonous snakes unlike the Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (which you are probably thinking of) and the other 2 vipers that you mentioned.

    • profile image

      Artemus-Gordon 8 years ago

      My property is just loaded with cooperheads and I have seen a few cottonmouths around here as well. So far there is no sighting of a diamondback.

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      jura 8 years ago

      Great lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Excellent Lens. 5*

      If you get a chance check out my Instant Stress Management lens.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      I'm not sure how I would feel having so many snakes around me as in the UK we don't see them often. However, this is another amazing "nature" lens and well deserving of the blessing I have just given it.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Excellent lens. Very interesting. I'm a big fan of reptiles of all sorts.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      I've made a point of recognizing the different snakes. Not out of interest, but fear. It doesn't matter if its just a garden snake. They make me jump and my heart starts racing...

      Great lens

      Lizzy

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Welcome to the Totally Awesome Lenses Group.

      Lizzy

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      I always learn a lot from your lenses. I'm an animal lover, and would never harm a snake. Running across one of these in the water would scare the heck out of me, though!

    • OldGrampa profile image

      OldGrampa 8 years ago

      Snakes are wonderful creatures, it has always disturbed me so much when people kill them especially the non poisonous ones. Most people I know just hate snakes and there is no reason for it at all.

    • profile image

      bdkz 8 years ago

      What a wonderful lens!