Florida's Snakes thumbnail photo of snake identification guide cover

Plain-bellied Watersnake
(Nerodia erythrogaster)


solid color icon

Plain-bellied Watersnake

photo of plain-bellied watersnake showing solid-colored, reddish brown back

photo of plain-bellied watersnake showing solid-colored, dark back and orange-red belly

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


Usually 2–4 ft. (max. ~6 ft.)


Back is greenish-gray to reddish or dark brown. Belly is usually orange-red and is unmarked. Belly of individuals from the extreme western panhandle may be yellow. Juveniles are lighter gray-brown, marked with dark bands, and look similar to Banded Watersnakes. Scales have obvious lengthwise ridges (keels). This snake gives birth to live young (does not lay eggs). Like most watersnakes, it is sometimes mistaken for the venomous Cottonmouth but is thinner and has round eye pupils.


Found in the panhandle of Florida in freshwater ponds, lakes, streams, wet bottomlands, cypress swamps, marshes and ditches. This snake prefers habitats with muddy bottoms and abundant vegetation.


Insects, fish, tadpoles, frogs, salamanders

map showing that plain-bellied watersnakes are found only in the panhandle of Florida

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

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