brown watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota)


This is a large, heavy-bodied snake that reaches lengths of 36-48 in. (76-152 cm). The adult has large, square, dark brown blotches on a lighter brown background. One row of squares runs down the back with an alternating row on each side. The belly is yellowish-brown with with dark blotches. The patterns darken and become less distinct with age. The juvenile is similar to the adult but lighter. Mating occurs in the spring and 12-50 live young are born from late August to mid-September. The brown watersnake is generally diurnal, but may be nocturnal in midsummer. It frequently basks on logs and overhanging vegetation during midday in spring and fall and in the morning during summer.


This species is found in the Coastal Plain south of the Rappahannock River. The northernmost known population occurs in the Pamunkey River. This species is found in a variety of quiet water including brackish water. It often basks in the crotches of cypress trees growing several hundred feet from the shore near Lake Drummond. This is a common species along many other lakes, canals and rivers in southeastern Virginia.


The main food of this species is fish, although frogs and other aquatic animals are also taken. They will consume whole bluegill and other sunfishes. The prey are swallowed alive.