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Yellow-bellied Water Snakes

Updated on February 18, 2015
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Louisiana has abundant wildlife, including reptiles such as snakes and turtles. All are welcome in Yvonne's backyard wildlife habitat.

Reptile: Nerodia erythrogaster (Forster) includes Yellow-bellied and Blotched Water Snakes

Non-venomous (Non-poisonous) Plain-bellied Water snakes are found in every southeastern state in the U.S. They are stout reptiles with dark brown, gray or greenish gray backs and bellies that range in color from yellow to red. In Louisiana, the Yellow-bellied and blotched water snakes occur. Even though these snakes are comfortable in water, they are often found on land, quite a distance away from a body of water. The Plain-bellied Water Snake is another of the many non-venomous, beneficial snakes that live in the south.


Yellow-bellied watersnake photo and all others on this page are the property of Y.L. Bordelon (All Rights Reserved), unless otherwise noted.

There are 2 types of Plain-bellied Water Snakes in Louisiana.

Yellow-bellied Water Snake is the Most Common Plain-bellied

A relatively heavy bodied, moderately long (up to 62 inches) with a pattern of alternating dorsal and lateral dark blotches readily visible, partially obscured or totally lacking on a gray or dark brown background (the pattern always visible in juveniles); belly some shade of yellow to red with relatively few dark markings. Baby Plain-bellied water snakes have banding patterns that resemble those of banded watersnakes, but have unmarked bellies and bands that are incomplete in the neck region. Plain-bellied water snakes are non-poisonous snakes.


Water Snake Poll

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Louisiana Water Snakes

Two Plain-bellied sub-species are found in Louisiana.

Yellow-bellied Water Snake (N. e. erythrogaster) - Its adult dorsal pattern is visible only as narrow mid dorsal bars, if visible at all. The Yellow-bellied water snake occurs all over Louisiana.

Blotched Water Snake (N. e. transversa) - The adults retain the blotched pattern found in all juveniles. The blotched water snake occurs only in the Prairie.


Water snakes

a. Diamond-backed water snake, Nerodia rhombifers

b. Western green water snake, Nerodia cyclopion

c. Yellow-bellied water snake, Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster

d. Blotched water snake, Nerodia erythrogaster transversa

e. Dark phase of the southern water snake, Nerodia fasciata

f. Light phase of the southern water snake, Nerodia fasciata

g. Northern water snake, Nerodia sipedon

h. Salt march snake, Nerodia clarkia

Photo Reference: Harold A. Dundee and Douglas A. Rossman, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana

Snakes of the Southeast

Snakes of the Southeast is a "must have" book for anyone who is interested in snakes. The information is up to date and very thorough and the many full color photographs just seem to jump off of the page. It is an excellent, all-round book.


Habits, Habitat and Reproduction

Nerodia erythrogaster (Yellow bellied water snake) is found in the ponds, sloughs, bayou, streams, rivers, lakes and swamps in the hill country of Louisiana and also in the drainage ditches and flooded rice fields of the lowlands. During the summer months, it is known to wander quite a distance from water than any other Nerodia species and they rarely bask. They are frequently one of the earliest water snakes to be seen in the spring and they spend more time on land that most other water snakes.

Yellow-bellied water snakes feed on small fish, crawfish and leopard frogs, which they capture and eat alive without constricting.

Plain-bellied water snakes mate from April until mid June. Females give birth to from 2-55 (18 is normal) live young during August or September.

Predators of Plain-bellied Water Snakes include largemouth bass, kingsnakes, cottonmouths, egrets, red-shouldered hawks and red-tailed hawks.


Reference: Whit Gibbons and Mike Dorcas: Snakes of the Southeast

Water Snakes of North America

Interactions with Yellow-bellied Water Snakes

We have had several encounters with large Yellow-bellied water snakes in our habitat in Southeastern Louisiana and most of them occurred on land, near our house. For two years in a row we found a pair of Yellow-bellied water snakes on our front porch and patio where we have a small water feature in an old iron wash kettle. It was quite a surprise to see the large snakes and at one point they decided that the patio drain pipe would make a nice den. My husband was able to catch them and release them down at the river so that they wouldn't eat the fish and frogs in the bass pond near the house.


Snakes Are Hunters Book
Snakes Are Hunters Book

Snakes Are Hunters

Snakes Are Hunters

Did you know there are over 3,000 kinds of snakes in the world? There are garter snakes, water snakes, rattlesnakes, and boa constrictors. Some are very, very big and some are tiny. Some glide over the ground, some climb trees, some even swim. But there is one thing they all have in common: snakes are hunters. A Reading Rainbow selection.

Watersnake Sticker


Water Snakes on Zazzle

To see more designs, please visit our Naturally Native Creations Gallery

Yellow-bellied Watersnake in its Natural Habitat.

Dover Snakes of the World
Dover Snakes of the World

Dover Snakes of the World Coloring Book

Dover Coloring Books: Snakes of the World

Dover coloring books are like no others. They are quality productions using heavy white opaque paper, with first-rate artwork and informative text and captions. Many appeal to adults as well as children. Teachers love them and appreciate being able to copy illustrations on office copiers for classroom use. Designers and craftspeople also use them because the illustrations in most Dover coloring books can be reproduced in design or craft projects without permission or fee.

Yellow Bellied Poll

Have you encountered a Yellow-bellied or Plain Bellied Water Snake? Where?

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Yellow-bellied Water Snake Texas
Yellow-bellied Water Snake Texas

Yellow-bellied Water Snake photo Creative Commons

© 2009 Yvonne L B

Please, Scratch Out a Line

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I hate snakes. They really freak me out.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I don't believe I ever saw a picture if a Yellow Bellied Water Snake before. They are nice looking creature.

    • potovanja profile image


      7 years ago

      I think your lens worht another LIKES:). Thank you 4 visit my lens...

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Had one of these in my front flower bed recently. Same place I found one last year. Perhaps they are attracted to the watering buckets for my livestock? Nice article. Thanks for the info!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I walked outside my back door in se tx i saw this same snake 3 1/2 in. animal control came and got it and stated it was non venom

    • MerryChicky profile image


      7 years ago

      I found a snake in the back yard today (and gave it it's space), then got online to see what it was. It sure does look with the water snake you've got on here. We've got a large ditch out back, so I figure he/she wandered over to check out the healthy population of lizards hanging out in the yard. Thanks for the info!

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 

      8 years ago from Redcar

      A fascinating lense on a fascinating subject.

    • GonnaFly profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Very interesting and beautifully illustrated lens. This lens has been blessed and added to my animal alphabet lens.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting lens. I have always enjoyed watching water snakes.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great informative lens! Thanks for teaching me something new...I've seen water snakes before (can't say I'm a big fan) and I have no idea if they had a yellow belly or not ;o) as I did not get close enough...thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    • AlishaV profile image

      Alisha Vargas 

      9 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Very interesting! Yellow-bellied Water Snakes are lovely in a simple way.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      This is a beautifully presented lens with lots of great information! Thanks for sharing! 5*

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      11 years ago

      Don't really mind snakes myself, Just give them the respect they deserve. A lot of poisonous snakes where I am from, down in the Ozarks in Missouri.

    • profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      11 years ago

      A pretty lens with great photos! Not fond of snakes but you have presented this one well.

    • naturegirl7s profile imageAUTHOR

      Yvonne L B 

      11 years ago from Covington, LA

      [in reply to Treasures-By-Brenda] It's all my husband's fault. He has been in love with snakes since he was a kid and would play in Audubon Park in New Orleans. He converted me, so now we both appreciate the beauty and wonder of reptiles.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      11 years ago from Canada

      Well done page, I'm wondering what started your interest in snakes!



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