Diamondback Water Snake
The Diamondback Water Snake, Nerodia rhombifer, is a common species of water snake found throughout much of central United States along the
Mississippi River Valley. It also ranges within the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama. It is also found in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, and Vera Cruz in Mexico. It is non-venomous and a member of the colubrid family.
Diamondback water snakes are predominantly brown, dark brown, or dark olive green in color, with a black net-like pattern along their back, with each spot being vaguely diamond shaped. Dark vertical bars and lighter coloring are often present down the sides of the snake. The underside is generally a yellow or lighter brown color often with black blotching. Their scales are heavily keeled, giving the snake a rough texture. They can grow to a length of 5 feet.
The diet of the Diamondback water snake is primarily made up of fish and amphibians, specifically slow moving fish, crayfish, eel-like salamanders, baby turtles, birds, frogs and toads. They sometimes attempt to eat catfish, but when they swallow it the sharp spine of the fish is known to slit the snake’s throat and cause its death. When foraging for food it will hang on a branch suspended over the water and dip its head under until they encounter prey.
Like other Nerodia species, diamondback water snakes are ovoviviparous. They breed in the spring and give birth in the late summer or early fall. Neonates are around 8 – 10 inches in length. Though their range overlaps with several other species of water snake, interbreeding is not known. They are killed out of fear as they are mistaken for venomous rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. In actuality, they are far more common than the venomous snakes in their range, especially in areas frequented by humans.