Florida's Snakes thumbnail photo of snake identification guide cover

Saltmarsh Watersnake
(Nerodia clarkii)


striped icon
Striped OR

solid-colored icon

Saltmarsh Watersnake

photo of striped saltmarsh watersnake

photo of saltmarsh watersnakes showing solid-colored and banded individuals

Photos by P. Hill (upper photo) and Daniel Parker (lower photo). Photos may not be used for any purpose without the express written permission of the photographer.


Usually 1–2 ft. (max. 3 ft.)


Body is gray or grayish-tan. Back is marked with four dark brown stripes. Stripes of individuals from the mid-Atlantic Coast fade toward the tail into large blotches. Individuals of this species from the southern Atlantic Coast and central/southern Gulf Coast do not have stripes or blotches and may be olive-brown, black, or reddish-orange with darker crossbands. Scales have obvious lengthwise ridges (keels). This snake gives birth to live young (does not lay eggs). Along the Atlantic Coast, the Saltmarsh Watersnake is federally protected as a threatened species.


Striped individuals are found along the northern Gulf Coast and mid-Atlantic Coast in brackish and saltwater marshes, and tidal flats. Solid-colored individuals of this species may be found along the southern Atlantic Coast and central/southern Gulf Coast (including the Keys) in similar habitats and in mangrove swamps.


Crayfish, shrimp, fish

map showing saltmarsh watersnakes are found in coastal areas throughout most of Florida

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

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