Search the site
Tennessee Wildlife
  Viewing Trail

Critter of the Month
Seasonal Events
Monthly Gallery
Backyard Wildlife Info
TWRA Publications
Woodworking for Wildlife
Education Tools
Links to Related Sites
About us
Contact Us

Join our Mailing List

Policies & Privacy
©Copyright 2018 TWRA

Range Map

Southern Watersnake

Southern Watersnake
Nerodia fasciata

One subspecies, Broad-banded Watersnake (N. f. confluens), occurs at Reelfoot Lake and counties that border the Mississippi River.

Description: A medium-sized, semi-aquatic snake (22.0 to 36.0 inches in length) with broad brown, red-brown, or black crossbands separated by yellow to grayish bands. Variations in band color occur across its range. Belly is yellow patterned with bold, square, black markings. A faint black line runs from the corner of the eye diagonally to the corner of the mouth. Young are more brightly colored.

Similar Species: Cottonmouths are darker and more heavy-bodied with a facial pit between eye and nostril.

Habitat: Prefers cypress swamps, marshes, river sloughs, and shallow lakes. Frequently found among thick vegetation, basking on logs, or on branches overhanging water.

Diet: Primarily fish, frogs, toads, and tadpoles; occasionally salamanders and crayfish.

Breeding information: Courtship and mating occurs in spring. Females give live birth to 7-40 brightly colored young during the summer.

Status in Tennessee: Common at Reelfoot Lake; populations appear to be stable. However, many watersnakes are persecuted by humans who mistake them for Cottonmouths.

Fun Facts:

  • Often called “yellow moccasin” and “pink flamingo snake” by locals due to the rich color variations which the Southern Watersnake exhibits.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Basking on logs or along the edges of Reelfoot Lake.

For more information:

Atlas of the Reptiles of Tennessee


Conant, R. and Collins, J. 1998. Peterson Field Guides: Reptiles and Amphibians (Eastern/Central North America). Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. 616pp.

Johnson, T.R. 2006. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, MO.