The dorsum is gray or greenish gray, usually plain, but sometimes will have traces of a pattern persisting as light (but dark bordered) transverse bars across the center of its back. The belly is plain yellow, often washed with orange; occasionally it will have dark pigments on the base or at the end of the ventral scutes. The scales are keeled. The anal scales are divided.
Similar species of water snakes in the Escambia region are sometimes plain dark above, but the belly is usually boldly marked.
"Water snake" is generally taken to mean the fairly abundant North American species. They are easily domesticated, and the easiest to keep in captivity is the northern water snake, (known in some references as Natrix sipedon sipedon). The species will apparently eat from the hand when acclimatised. The red-bellied water snake, Natrix erythrogaster is also an older classification.
These snakes live primarily on fresh or canned fish. Indeed, the only drawbacks to water snakes are the lingering smell of fish around their feeding area and the watery faeces produced. The green and brown water snakes, Natrix cyclopion and Natrix taxispilota (old classification), grow to large sizes and are perhaps less well-suited to captivity.