Banded Water Snakes are easy to mistake for the venomous
cottonmouth. Both snakes have thick bodies and grow to about
5 feet long. When young, they have brown bodies with black and
rusty orange patterns. As it ages, the skin gets darker. Unless
youre really close, its hard to tell these two snakes
apart; however, getting close is a bad idea. Both snakes are
aggressive and will strike numerous times before you can move
away. The main difference is that the banded water snake has
no venom (poison) and the cottonmouth does. Banded water snakes
live in fresh or salt water marshes. They are good swimmers that
come out at night. They eat frogs, tadpoles, and fish.
Banded Water Snakes are common in most permanent and semipermanent
fresh water environments in the coastal plain. The preferred
habitat is similar to those of many other water snakes. Individuals
flee at the slightest disturbance, but if restrained or cornered,
they bite vigorously and void musk from their cloacal glands.
However, their bites, like those of other local nonvenomous snakes,
produce only superficial scratches. Banded water snakes feed
chiefly on fish and amphibians.