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Everything You Should Know About Banded Water Snakes

Everything You Should Know About Banded Water Snakes

Banded water snakes are common in Georgia this time of year. Our seasoned Bug House experts get an influx of snake-related questions during warmer months because snakes are more active. Nonvenomous snakes are actually protected in the state of Georgia, so it’s important to correctly identify them and respond accordingly. As we enter the active season, let’s review some basic information about common Georgia snakes. Bug House is here to keep you and your family safe. 

Where are banded water snakes?

As their name suggests, banded water snakes are semi-aquatic reptiles that live in and around water. Banded water snakes, also referred to as southern water snakes, are spring and summertime regulars in Georgia. They most frequently inhabit the coast and coastal plain. They live in freshwater habitats, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, canals, swamps, marshes, and wet prairies. This species dines predominantly on crayfish, other freshwater fish, tadpoles, frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts.

Are they poisonous?

Banded water snakes are not poisonous, but they can be aggressive. They have been known to strike if they are cornered, and the bite is painful. If they are irritated, these snakes also release a foul-smelling musk to deter predators. Many people confuse this species of water snakes with other species of venomous water snakes. So how can you tell the difference? A defining difference in whether or not a water snake is poisonous is the way it swims. Poisonous snakes skim along the top of the water. Non-poisonous snakes swim with their bodies submerged and heads above the water line. 

How can you identify them?

People often confuse banded water snakes with venomous water moccasins, also called Cottonmouths. Unlike these venomous lookalikes, their nonvenomous counterparts are heavy-bodied, medium-sized, and semi-aquatic. So, they frequent bodies of fresh water, but not exclusively. Their body color ranges from tan to green to grey and even red or brown, but they are marked with darker (typically brown or black) crossbands that don’t extend onto the underside of their bodies. Another identifier is that the species gives birth to live young rather than laying eggs. Adult banded water snakes measure from 24-42 inches in length and weigh an average of 16 ounces.

What should you do if you find one?

Even though they aren’t venomous, banded water snakes can still be aggressive and deliver painful bites. If you encounter one around your home, remain calm and give the snake the opportunity to slither away (hopefully away from your home). If you find a banded water snake inside your home, call the pest control pros at Bug House. We’ll take care of it ASAP, and we’ll do it safely. Don’t forget that although this species is not venomous, their bites are painful. Be sure to keep yourself, your family, and your pets at a safe distance. These aren’t the only common snake species in Georgia, so check out our other blogs for even more essential snake information!