Banded Water Snake


Actual Size: 2 to 4 feet long

Characteristics: Typically greenish-gray, gray, or brown, with dark crossbands.

Habitat: Can be found in freshwater habitats around marshes, ponds, streams, and lakes.


  • Also known as the southern water snake.
  • Of all snakes, banded water snakes are one of the strongest swimmers. 
  • Nonvenomous snakes are frequently mistaken for cottonmouth snakes (venomous).

Banded Water Snakes in Eastern Tennessee

The banded water snake can be found across East Tennessee. Banded water snakes are nonvenomous snakes that are commonly mistaken for cottonmouth snakes. These snakes have heavy bodies with both dark markings and lighter-colored scales. Banded water snakes can grow up to four feet long and have broad, flat heads, which is another characteristic that gets them confused with cottonmouth snakes. Banded water snakes feed on fish, frogs, salamanders, crayfish, and tadpoles. It bears live young and mating occurs in spring

Banded Water Snake Habitat

These snakes are typically found in freshwater sources, including lakes and ponds. During the heat of summer, banded water snakes are active mainly at night. However, they can also be found during the day sunning on banks or vegetation hanging over the water. In colder weather, the banded water snake will take refuge in burrows or under piles of vegetation near water and hibernate, or more accurately brumate. Brumation is similar to hibernation in that snakes will sleep for long periods of time.

Banded Water Snake Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

As their name suggests, these snakes prefer to live in or near water—and are known to
be one of the strongest swimmers out of all snakes. While they aren’t aggressive, banded water snakes aren’t particularly friendly either and will avoid contact with humans at all costs. When threatened, they may release an unpleasant musky odor or they may even bite. Although their bite is not venomous, it can still be quite painful. If you are having an issue with banded water snakes on your property, it is best to consult a professional pest control company for removal.