Florida's Snakes thumbnail photo of snake identification guide cover

Brown Watersnake
(Nerodia taxispilota)


blotch icon

Brown Watersnake - adult (upper image), juvenile (lower image)

photo of brown watersnake resting on limestone at a river's edge, showing typical brown body with alternating dark blotches

photo of juvenile brown watersnake showing alternating dark blotches on gray-brown body

 Photos by Dr. Steve A. Johnson (UF). These photos may not be used without the express written permission of the photographer


Usually 3.5–4.5 ft (max. ~5.5 ft)


Body is brown; back and sides are marked with brown-black square blotches in an alternating, checkerboard-like pattern. Belly is marked with irregular dark spots. 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. This snake gives birth to live young (does not lay eggs).


Found throughout Florida in freshwater habitats with trees or fallen tree branches for basking, including rivers, spring runs, lakes, cypress swamps, wet prairies, wetland edges, and canals. This snake is especially common along waterways in bottomland forest, and is an excellent climber. It may occasionally be found in brackish tidal areas.


Fish (especially catfish), tadpoles, frogs, toads

map showing that brown watersnakes are found throughout Florida

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

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