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Diamond-back Water Snake

Louisiana has abundant wildlife, including reptiles such as snakes and turtles. All are welcome in Yvonne's backyard wildlife habitat.

Diamond back watersnake testing the air with its tongue in early spring by naturegirl7 on Zazzle.

Diamond back watersnake testing the air with its tongue in early spring by naturegirl7 on Zazzle.

Reptile: Nerodia rhombifera

The Diamond-back (or backed) Water Snake is a long, heavy-bodied, tan to grayish brown non-venomous (non-poisonous) reptile with a pattern of dark brown to black chain like markings. The belly is yellow, but with dusky brown markings. As the name implies it lives in slow moving waters and is found all over Louisiana.

These beautiful snakes eat fish, frogs, toads, eels and very few birds. Many of these attractive non-venomous reptiles are killed by uninformed humans who mistake them for the venomous Cottonmouth or Copperhead snake.

You will find information about and photographs (taken by the author) of this large, brown reptile on this page, including some action shots of it hunting in the water.

Photos on this page copyright Y.L. Bordelon aka naturegirl7, All rights reserved

Diamond back water snake captured by my husband who has been a snake handler since he was a child.

Diamond back water snake captured by my husband who has been a snake handler since he was a child.

Diamondbacked Water Snakes in our Habitat

Since our wildlife habitat is located along the Tchefuncte River, we often see many water snakes, but the largest and most interesting one that lives around the river is the Diamondback Water Snake. This snake can grow to 63 inches and we have several this size. They mate in the spring and have live young from early August to late October.

We have been lucky enough to photograph this attractive snake both in and out of the water. They like to bask in the sun on over hanging branches or cling to a submerged branch to lie in wait while hunting. Where we live, these skillful hunters eat primarily fish and we have observed one grab a 2 pound catfish and take it to the shore to eat it. The snake worked to try to swallow the fish for hours, until it finally gave up and tried for a perch.

Unfortunately, this beautiful, non-poisonous snake is sometimes killed because of its slightly triangular head, the untrained mistake it for the venomous Copperhead or Water Moccasin. The photos below (from "The Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana" by Harold A. Dundee and Douglas A Rossman) show the difference between the heads of the snakes.

A. Diamond-backed water snake, Nerodia rhombifera

C. Copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix

D. Cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus

Diamond back water snake

Diamond back water snake

Copperhead & Cottonmouth Compared

Copperhead & Cottonmouth Compared

Diamond back watersnakes often come out on warm late winter days.

Diamond back watersnakes often come out on warm late winter days.

Snake Identification Poll

Diamond-back Water Snake Sunning on a Log

Since snakes are cold-blooded, they must take advantage of the sun to warm their bodies. That is why you will often see them stretched out on logs or curled in tree branches "sunning". We photographed this large Diamond-back Watersnake, near the Tchefuncte River, sunning on a tree that was downed during Hurricane Katrina.

To see a close up version of this magnificent snake visit Snake Pictures in Louisiana.

Snake on a log by naturegirl7 was taken after Hurricane Katrina.

Snake on a log by naturegirl7 was taken after Hurricane Katrina.

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Water Snakes are fascinating creatures!

Renaissance Woman: When I lived in Michigan, I enjoyed watching unsuspecting boaters get freaked out when the water snakes would swim towards them at the ramp (while they were standing in the water). The water snakes there were very aggressive.

dofseo: Nice collection ! its really very interesting.

heehaw lm: water snakes are indeed fascinating creatures. but beware, some are poisonous.

Tolovaj Publishing House: They seem very interesting.

budgetwater: Cool stuff!

promotional-coupons-codes: I love snakes and would love to have one

rio1: These are beautiful snakes and they get very large, but they are harmless.

KimGiancaterino: I prefer snakes to be in their natural habitats.

I try not to think about them.

Ahdilarum: Not danger, but scary

miauw99: I am sooo afraid with snakes.

Stacy Birch: I don't like snakes.

Philippians468: oh boy i am a little jittery about the fact that they can swim!

WhiteOak50: Okay, have to be honest here... ummm, I am not a snake person. (shrivers)

Diamond-back Watersnake "Fishing"

Some watersnakes hook their tails to a submerged branch and lie in wait for their prey. Here is a shot of a Diamond-back Water Snake "fishing" in the Tchefuncte River. We have observed Diamond-back's grabbing fish underwater many times. It looks strange, because, in most cases, you don't see the snake, you just see the fish as the snake whips it around in the water.

North American Watersnakes Book

A Water Snake's Year

If your child is interested in reptiles, the book, A Water Snake's Year, by Doris Gove and Beverly Duncan (which takes you through the first year in the life of a water snake) may be of interest to you. Both you and your child will enjoy the illustrations and information.

This is a great video of a Diamond-back Water snake moving under water.

Diamondback Water Snake Underwater Video

© 2008 Yvonne L B

Slip in a comment.

Snakesmum on November 18, 2013:

Snakes are fascinating creatures.

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on April 13, 2012:

Very interesting. I don't mind water snakes as long as I'm not in the water with them! I've seen some pretty aggressive water snakes.

biminibahamas on April 04, 2012:

Great information, even though I probably will have a dream about them tonight, LOL!

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on March 13, 2012:

@Bananko: Thanks. These water snakes are non-poisonous. They will bite, but do not inject any venom.

Bananko on March 13, 2012:

Dangerous but also cute animals! I would like to have one of these :) Nice lens!

Stacy Birch on November 20, 2011:

nice lens

heehaw lm on October 11, 2011:

great lens on reptiles.

andreaberrios lm on September 29, 2011:

I really enjoy this lens. I don't hate snakes, I actually hold a python around my neck when I last visited south Florida. It was a domesticated snake but it was huge and beautiful! Great lens.

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on July 31, 2011:

@anonymous: It would help if you tell us the state that you live in. Also whether the rock was near water, or more about the terrain. The fact that it hatched from an egg rules out live bearing snakes like the Cottonmouth.

Often baby snakes look a lot different from adults. A good book to check out of the library, if you live in the southern United States, is Snakes of the Southeast by Gibbons and Dorcas. It has excellent photos of both baby and adult snakes.

anonymous on July 30, 2011:

ok i found a snake in my back yard under a rock in an egg and i took it inside and let it hatch ok it has a black diamond head but it also has a grey body with brown spots can any one tell me whaat kinda snake this is??

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on July 21, 2011:

@TolovajWordsmith: Thanks for the comment. Yes, we do have quite a few different species of snakes here in Louisiana and much wildlife, too. The state motto is "a sportsman's paradise".

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on July 18, 2011:

We have some snakes in our country too, but they are quite rare and we have only two venomous sorts. It looks you have pretty wild nature in Louisiana... Thanks for sharing.

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on June 15, 2011:

@EcoGecko LM: Thanks for commenting. Corn snakes are beautiful creatures.

The Diamond-back Water Snake is a non-venomous snake. It has no fangs and does not inject poison when it bites.

It is often confused with the Diamond-backed Rattlesnake because of its name and the Cottonmouth, because it lives in the same type of habitat. Both rattlesnakes and Cottonmouths are venomous pit vipers.

I don't like to encounter them either, but Cottonmouths are all over southeastern Louisiana, so they can't be avoided.

EcoGecko LM on June 15, 2011:

cool lens I'm lucky in that there are few types of snake where I live (about 3 I think) so unless its escaped from a private collection (heard some kids picked up a poisonous snake and took it to a pet shop not long ago to find that if they had been bitten they would have been poisoned however I guess they can't be too willing to strike out) if it has diamonds down its back it's an adder and poisonous. I have a pet corn at home so no problem with non-poisonous snakes but I don't know what I'd feel about a poisonous one because I haven't met one.

Francis Luxford from United Kingdom on April 19, 2011:

Very cool! Really liked the video of the snake underwater.

Philippians468 on March 30, 2011:

i have no idea what to do if i was in the water and saw one of these swimming towards me! maybe i'll drop and roll.

Jeff Wendland from Kalamazoo, MI on November 09, 2010:

My brother moved to SW Georgia. My dad and my 6 yr old nephew were riding their bikes around in my brothers new neighborhood and they had a 5 foot diamond back ride across the street right in front of them.

anonymous on September 08, 2010:

Another winner, very interesting and awesome pictures! I love to watch snakes, but from afar, they kinda scare me! - Kathy

WhiteOak50 on February 28, 2010:

Oh, I not a snake person at all. I have a great respect for them and totally try my best to stay out of their way. One day I will wrtie about my encounters with snakes. You did a very good job writng this lens, but that is true for most of your lens! You are always very complete in whatever subject you are writing about. "Blessed by a SquidAngel"

happynutritionist on January 17, 2010:

I LOVE nature too, and though don't particularly like being startled by a snake, do think they are beautiful and have caught, held and even kept one or two as pets for a period of time...harmless varieties. Thank you for supporting the people of Haiti by adding this lens to RocketMoms Help for Haiti:-) ~claudia

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on October 22, 2009:

[in reply to inkserotica] Thank you so much for the love and the blessing! As to why they are mistaken for the poisonous ones, I think with some people it's a question of kill first and identify later.

inkserotica on October 22, 2009:

I'm fascinated by snakes of any kind. In a way I can see the similarities between it and the more venomous snakes but not why they're mistaken. Consider yourself loved and blessed by a passing Angel :)

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on September 09, 2009:

[in reply to Artemus-Gordon] Diamond-back WATERSNAKES are NON-poisonous snakes unlike the Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (which you are probably thinking of) and the other 2 vipers that you mentioned.

Artemus-Gordon on September 09, 2009:

My property is just loaded with cooperheads and I have seen a few cottonmouths around here as well. So far there is no sighting of a diamondback.

jura on June 08, 2009:

Great lens

anonymous on June 05, 2009:

Excellent Lens. 5*

If you get a chance check out my Instant Stress Management lens.

anonymous on April 24, 2009:

I'm not sure how I would feel having so many snakes around me as in the UK we don't see them often. However, this is another amazing "nature" lens and well deserving of the blessing I have just given it.

religions7 on April 19, 2009:

Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

Andy-Po on November 16, 2008:

Excellent lens. Very interesting. I'm a big fan of reptiles of all sorts.

ElizabethJeanAl on October 25, 2008:

I've made a point of recognizing the different snakes. Not out of interest, but fear. It doesn't matter if its just a garden snake. They make me jump and my heart starts racing...

Great lens


ElizabethJeanAl on October 24, 2008:

Welcome to the Totally Awesome Lenses Group.


KimGiancaterino on October 13, 2008:

I always learn a lot from your lenses. I'm an animal lover, and would never harm a snake. Running across one of these in the water would scare the heck out of me, though!

OldGrampa on October 12, 2008:

Snakes are wonderful creatures, it has always disturbed me so much when people kill them especially the non poisonous ones. Most people I know just hate snakes and there is no reason for it at all.

bdkz on October 12, 2008:

What a wonderful lens!

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