Water snakes are a family of over 200 species of semi aquatic snakes that thrive in wetlands and water bodies across the state of Virginia. The water snakes usually feed, live, or explore the aquatic and semiaquatic environments.
Their stout bodies, triangular heads, and keeled scales characterize them,. A majority of the water snakes in the world are mostly distributed in the northern hemisphere. The water snakes’ diet is made up of amphibians such as frogs, newts, tadpoles, reptiles, and fish.
Many water snake species in Virginia are non venomous. The water snakes usually range from 3 to 4.5 feet long and they come in different colors depending on the area you visit. Some colors these snakes come in are brown, tan, and grey-black, and they are usually active during the summer and are nocturnal in nature.
The water snakes are mostly aquatic and it is essential to note that they are excellent swimmers. They dwell in water bodies or closer to the water bodies. Most of these species are usually non venomous apart from the cottonmouth snake.
The state of Virginia has over 3180 square miles and it has 9 major river systems, two natural lakes, several artificial lakes and the Atlantic Ocean also borders it. It has some different aquatic habitats where these snakes inhabit.
Further reading: Dangerous animals in Virginia
The state of Virginia has about ten water snakes and you should take your time to know them before you can explore the region. Here are some species that you will find in Virginia.
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Northern Water Snake
The northern water snake is a popular snake found in Virginia. They can grow up to 55 inches long and come in different colors. They usually come in colors such as reddish-brown, dark brown, and pale grey.
The elder snakes usually become darker as they grow older and the females are larger than the males. It is one of the most popular water snakes in Virginia.
The northern water snakes are usually known to prefer slow-moving waters and you will find them in the vernal pools, lakes, ponds, marshes, and other slow-moving rivers. You will find them basking on the rocks across the state along these waterbodies.
These are some of the unique water snakes that you can find in different parts of the state of Virginia. They can grow up to 48 inches long and they come in different colors such as bluish-black, pink, and yellow, and three stripes that are either pink or yellow.
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They are very beautiful snakes and spend most of their time in the aquatic environment. These areas include marshes, lakes, streams, and ponds.
Brown Water Snake
The brown water snakes are some of the species that you are going to find in the state of Virginia. These snakes usually come in dark brown, light brown, tan, and grey colors with blotches on the sides and their backs.
They have thick body with a large head. They are usually found in different areas of the state ranging from rocky banks, vegetation, canals, rivers, swamps, stands, ponds, and lakes.
Unlike other water snakes that you can find in Virginia, brown water snakes consume fish, especially younger catfish. These are some of the iconic creatures that you will find in the region because they are excellent climbers. You will find them on trees basking and they can stay up to 20 feet high up.
These snakes are known to fall into boats accidentally and you should watch out for them. They can be dangerous and can attack at any moment.
Eastern Garter Snake
The eastern garter snake is an iconic species that you can find in the state of Virginia. It is known to grow up to 26 inches in length. They come in a wide array of colors from black, brown, and green and they also have a unique whitish or yellow stripe that runs down the center of their backs.
In some cases, some of these snakes have checkered body patterns. During your trip to Virginia, you can find these snakes in the grassy areas near the water bodies. They are known to be the snakes that many people encounter across the state. Some of the common areas where you can find these snakes include farmlands, cemeteries, city parts, suburban lawns, and gardens. They usually prefer areas that are close to water bodies such as streams, lakes, ditches, marshes, and ponds.
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These snakes are very iconic because they are known to have precise attack methods whenever they are feeling threatened. They will release a foul-smelling musk from their glands. They also have anticoagulants on their saliva which means that when they bite there is a high chance that the wound will not stop bleeding. When this happens, the victim will bleed profusely and this can lead to fatalities.
The eastern garter snakes usually consume fish, salamanders, frogs, slugs, toads, and even worms. They are very opportunistic species and you should watch out for them when you are in Virginia. They are a diurnal species therefore active both during the day and at night.
Common Water Snake
The common water snake is another common species that you will find in different places in the state. They are known primarily to feed on amphibians and fish. They usually hunt throughout the day and they can thrive on the shallow waters or the edge of the water bodies.
They use a grab technique which does not give time for the prey to realize that they have been captured. While these snakes will usually flee whenever they come into contact with humans, you should avoid them as they can be dangerous. They carry a wide array of bacteria that would otherwise cause severe infections on the body.
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The flattened body characterizes these snakes. They are non venomous. Still, you should stay away from them because their saliva has an anticoagulant which will cause failure of the wound to stop bleeding. They are considered to be one of the species that thrive in Virginia.
The queen snake is another water snake species you can find in the state of Virginia. They usually grow up to 24 inches long. They also come in different colorations ranging from olive green to dark brown and they have two lighter stripes down on their sides.
The underside of these species is usually tan or yellow and they have four dark stripes that run on the length of the body. These creatures usually like to stay near rivers and streams. You can rarely spot this species away from the water.
Their skin is very permeable and this means that they are susceptible to evaporative loss and therefore they cannot stay far away from the water. These are not very reclusive snakes and you are likely to see them in the different regions.
They are diurnal creatures and you will find them basking on the logs, overhanging branches, and other vegetation near the water bodies. They like to be under the rocks, and logs among others. Queen snakes are exceptional at hunting in the water and they primarily feed on crayfish. They have focused on this species because they have soft bodies and they hunt them by submerging themselves.
While they can flee when you encounter them, it is important that you stay far away from them because they can transfer the bacteria on their bodies to your system and cause various infections.
Eastern Glossy Swamp Snake
The eastern glossy swamp snake is a species that you can find in the state of Virginia. They can grow up to 24 inches long. They have glossy brownish colors with yellow lips. There are others that you will find with two dark stripes that run on the back of their bodies.
The underside of this species is yellow with black dots. The eastern glossy swamps are known to rarely leave their slow-moving waterways and you will find them in rivers, streams, marshes, ponds, ditches, and lakes. They are usually very reclusive and they will hide under the burrows among others.
They are nocturnal species and they usually consume crayfish and they coil around the prey before consuming them. Whenever they are attacked, they tend to flee and they secrete a foul-smelling substance on their bodies.
Eastern Ribbon Snake
The eastern ribbon snake is a species also called the common ribbon snake and they usually grow up to 26 inches long. You should be careful of this species because they are known to inhabit a wide array of habitats around the state. The snake comes in different colors such as brown, tan, and black. It also has three stripes that range from bright to cream stripes that run down their bodies.
These species are known to have a unique snout and their head is brownish. They are a very rare species that are usually semi aquatic in nature and they will be found far from the water sources. They spend their time in the water from time to time. Here are some of the places where you are likely to encounter them: ditches, grassy floodplains, marshes, pools, and meadows. They are even found in suburban areas. You will find them basking on tree branches and trees overhanging the water.
Plain-bellied Water Snake
The plain-bellied water snakes are the common species that grow up to 40 inches. They come in different colors such as black, olive, brown, and gray.
Just as the name indicates, these snakes usually do not come with markings on their bodies and their underside is yellow to red. You can encounter them in different water sources including lakes, ponds, rivers, floodplains, and wetlands.
These species usually spend most of their time on land but there is a high chance that you will find them in the water bodies as well. During the hot and humid weather, you will find them in the woodland areas.
They are known to consume both terrestrial and aquatic prey such as frogs, fish, salamanders, and toads. They are mostly known for being ambush predators and they will wait and attack their prey. It is important to note that they can hunt on both land and water.
The northern cottonmouth is a legendary snake that you can encounter in the state of Virginia. It is one of the most venomous species that you are going to find in the region. They grow up to 35 inches long. The females will be slightly smaller than their male counterparts.
Most of these snakes usually come in a wide array of colors ranging from black, dark grey, and tan with a heat-sensing pit between their nostrils and eyes. They also have a blunt snout and some of the snakes can have blackish coloration on their bellies.
These snakes are very dangerous and you should take your time to avoid the areas that they usually inhabit. You will find them in areas such as flooded fields, ponds, swamps, slow-moving rivers, and streams. They are not limited to aquatic habitats only. You can also find them in habitats such as dune areas, pine forests, and palmetto thickets.
Their primary diet is mostly turtles, frogs, toads, fish, alligators, and other snakes. These snakes are highly venomous and you should ensure that you watch out for them. They usually vibrate their tails just like the venomous rattlesnakes.
Red-bellied Mud Snake
The red-bellied mud snake is another water snake that you can encounter in different habitats around Virginia. This snake is unique because they grow up to 54 inches in length and are characterized by their glossy black color with black and red checkered underbellies.
The chin of this snake is heavily marked with yellow and black colors, therefore; they create something like a zipper-like appearance. They are semi aquatic species therefore you should watch out for them when you are exploring different habitats around the state.
Some of the places where you are likely to find these snakes include swamps, marshes, lakes, canals, debris, drainage ditches, rivers, and streams. They usually prefer areas where there is dense vegetation.
They are very specialized hunters and they usually feed on aquatic salamanders. Since they consume a wide array of creatures, they are likely to transfer bacteria to your body hence causing severe infections.