Nerodia erythrogaster

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Nerodia erythrogaster
Nerodia erythrogasterPCSL03705B.jpg
plain-bellied water snake
Nerodia erythrogaster
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Natricinae
Genus: Nerodia
Species: N. erythrogaster
Binomial name
Nerodia erythrogaster
(Forster, 1771)
Synonyms
  • Coluber erythrogaster
    Forster, 1771
  • Tropidonotus erythrogaster
    Holbrook, 1842
  • Tropidonotus transversus
    Hallowell, 1852
  • Nerodia erythrogaster
    Baird & Girard, 1853
  • Natrix fasciata erythrogaster
    Cope, 1888
  • Natrix sipedon erythrogaster
    Allen, 1932
  • Natrix erythrogaster
    Clay, 1938
  • Natrix e. erythrogaster
    Conant, 1958
  • Nerodia e. erythrogaster
    — Conant & Collins, 1991

Nerodia erythrogaster, commonly known as the plain-bellied water snake or plainbelly water snake, is a familiar species of mostly aquatic, nonvenomous, colubrid snake endemic to the United States.

Geographic range[edit]

This species ranges through much of the southeastern United States, from Michigan to Delaware in the north, and Texas to northern Florida in the south, but it is absent from the Florida peninsula and the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains.

Habitat[edit]

They are almost always found near a permanent water source, a lake, stream, pond, or other slow moving body.

Description[edit]

Adults are 24–40 inches (76–122 cm) in total length, and can reach up to 55 inches in some states such as Kansas.

It gets its common name because it has no patterning on its underside. Subspecies can vary in color from brown, to gray, to olive green, with dark-colored blotching down the back, and an underside that is yellow, brown, red, or green.

Behavior[edit]

It is quick to vigorously defend itself by biting repeatedly, and its mouth has a white interior, resulting in it being misidentified frequently as the venomous cottonmouth.

Reproduction[edit]

This species bears live young (ovoviviparous) like other North American water snakes and garter snakes. In North Carolina and Georgia, the plain-bellied water snake breeds from April to June, and broods of 5-27 young are born in August to October.

Subspecies[edit]

There are six recognized subspecies of N. erythrogaster, including the nominotypical subspecies:

References[edit]

Original publication[edit]

  • Forster, J.R. 1771. in Bossu, J.-B. 1771. Travels through that Part of North America Formerly Called Louisiana. Translated by John [sic] Reinhold Forster, F.A.S. ...with Notes Relative Chiefly to Natural History...by the Translator...Vol. I. T. Davies. London. viii + 407 pp. (Coluber erythrogaster, p. 364.)

Further reading[edit]

  • Conant, R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. xviii + 429 pp. ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Natrix erythrogaster, pp. 142-144 + Plate 20 + Map 103.)
  • Schmidt, K.P., and D.D. Davis. 1941. Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York. 365 pp. (Natrix erythrogaster, pp. 224-225.)
  • Smith, H.M., and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Golden Press. New York. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3 (paperback). (Nerodia erythrogaster, pp. 154-155.)
  • Wright, A.H., and A.A. Wright. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Comstock. Ithaca and London. 1,050 pp. (in 2 volumes) (Natrix erythrogaster, pp. 477-490, Figures 141.-143., Map 39.)