Midland Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon pleuralis), in the Boyce Park, Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Midland Watersnake is generally a light brown or tan with darker brown or even reddish bands. The bands connect on the neck and become a more alternating pattern between the back and the sides from the middle part of the body to the tail. The head has smooth, medium sized scales. The eyes have round pupils. The lower lip is white with brown vertical bars. Its scales are keeled. The belly scales are usually white with red, brown and black blotches. The caudal scales are divided. Average adult size is 24-48 inches (60.9-121.9 cm), record is 59 inches (149.8 cm).
Range: from Florida, north and east to North Carolina and west to Louisiana, Oklahoma and Illinois. They can be found in and around lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, and is also common in drainage ditches.
It breeds in early spring. In early fall, females will give birth to live young. Litters of 12-30 are deposited from June-September.
They prey upon small fish, frogs, crayfish, and baby turtles. Occasionally, it will capture less aquatic prey, such as lizards and even other snakes. This snake relies upon its stealth and ability to remain submerged for long periods of time to catch its prey. It will actively search through underwater rock crevices and vegetation for its prey, lunging after what it can grasp. A successful bite usually hooks the fin of a fish or foot of a frog. Larger prey is dragged out of the water and eaten on the bank. Careful observation of fish behavior can reveal which rocks are likely to have snakes underneath foraging, even before they are seen.
Harmless Watersnakes are frequently confused with the venomous Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus). However, Cottonmouths can easily be distinguished from Watersnakes. Cottonmouths have a vertical pupil, a facial pit between its eye and nostril. If the head is viewed from above, the eyes of Cottonmouths cannot be seen while the eyes of Watersnakes are visible; Cottonmouths have elliptical pupils and Watersnakes have round pupils; and Cottonmouths have a facial pit between the nostril and the eye, which the Watersnakes do not.
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Thanks to the talented Sharon
for identifying it. She has many animals in her gallery!