Florida's Snakes thumbnail photo of snake identification guide cover


Southern or Banded Watersnake
(Nerodia fasciata)


bands icon

Banded Watersnake - adult (upper image)
and juvenile (lower image)

dark-colored adult banded watersnake showing faint bands and dark eyestripe

juvenile banded watersnake showing distinct reddish and brown crossbands

 Photos by John Jensen (upper photo) and Kevin Enge (FWC, lower photo). These photos may not be used without the express written permission of the photographer


Usually 2–3.5 ft. (max. 5 ft.)


Body color ranges from yellow-tan to reddish or grayish-brown and is marked with darker brown-black crossbands that do not extend onto the belly. Older individuals may be nearly solid brown-black. Belly is marked with irregular dark marks. Obvious dark bands run from each eye to the corners of the jaw. Scales have obvious lengthwise ridges (keels). Like most watersnakes, it is sometimes mistaken for the venomous Cottonmouth, but is thinner and has round eye pupils. Juvenile Plain-bellied Watersnakes look similar, but have yellow or orange bellies. This snake gives birth to live young (does not lay eggs).


Found throughout Florida in freshwater habitats, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, canals, swamps, marshes, and wet prairies. It is occasionally found in slightly brackish waters.


Crayfish, fish, tadpoles, frogs, toads, salamanders, newts

map showing banded watersnakes are found throughout Florida

Map by Monica E. McGarrity - may be used freely for education.

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