15 Water Snakes in Georgia (with Pictures)

Water snakes settled in Georgia enjoy the vast, open aquatic habitats and they rarely leave them. There are many snakes called ‘water snakes’, despite not being in the water snake genus, and in today’s article, we’ll be learning all about them.

Take a look at the 15 species of water snakes in Georgia:

  • Rough Green Snake
  • Striped Crayfish Snake
  • Glossy Crayfish Snake
  • Queen Snake
  • Common Garter Snake
  • Black Racer
  • Rainbow Snake
  • Mud Snake
  • Copperhead
  • Cottonmouth
  • Plain-bellied Water Snake
  • Banded Water Snake
  • Green Water Snake
  • Common Water Snake
  • Brown Water Snake

Table of Contents

1. Rough Green Snake

Scientific name: Opheodrys aestivus

We can find these snakes all over Georgia, where they usually inhabit wetlands and areas near active bodies of water. You can see them hanging in vegetation, looking for insects – their primary source of food.

They’re completely harmless, but you’re going to have a tough time finding them if you want to take a look at them. These snakes are entirely green and they’re great at sinking into the background, making it difficult to spot them.

  • Size: no longer than 45 inches.
  • Color: completely green, belly is a bit lighter.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: insects, small snails and frogs.

2. Striped Crayfish Snake

Scientific name: Liodytes alleni

This species is extremely rare in Georgia, found only in the south, mostly in Charlton, Clinch, Echols and Lowndes counties. There, these snakes display semiaquatic behavior – living in swamps and wetlands, rarely leaving the vicinity of water.

They aren’t found further upstate, with their northernmost border being the area near the Florida-Georgia border. There, they primarily feed on crayfish (hence the name), swallowing the fish alive.

  • Size: up to 20 inches.
  • Color: dark, with light rainbow striping alongside the body – difficult to notice.
  • Venom: none, they swallow live prey. Their teeth are very sharp, though, and their bites are painful.
  • Food: mostly crayfish – young snakes eat insects.

3. Glossy Crayfish Snake

Scientific name: Liodytes rigida rigida

Unlike its striped cousin, the glossy crayfish snake has spread all around the south, southwest and southeast of the Peach State, reaching the border with South Carolina. They inhabit wetlands and ponds.

Their lives rotate around water, so they rarely leave these environments – leaving only to mate or to run from predators. Just like the striped crayfish snake, they mostly eat crayfish, but also frogs and salamanders.

  • Size: no longer than 24 inches.
  • Color: brown, olive – they always look glossy.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: crayfish, sometimes frogs and salamanders.

4. Queen Snake

Scientific name: Regina septemvittata

The queen snake inhabits the northern half of Georgia, where it usually lives in running water – unlike most water snakes, they prefer running water, instead of calm bodies of water.

Another highly aquatic species – they virtually never leave the water and are always close by. We can often spot them lounging and keeping warm on tree branches above the water.

  • Size: no longer than 24 inches.
  • Color: dark brown and dark gray.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: almost exclusively crayfish.

5. Common Garter Snake

Scientific name: Thamnophis sirtalis

A very common snake species you can find all over Georgia, the common garter snake often stays near water. However, they’re not afraid of wandering away, and they’ll even approach urban environments.

They mostly eat small frogs, salamanders, fish and birds, which they kill by overpowering them and injecting their very weak venom – lethal for small frogs, but not harmful to humans. Garter snakes also don’t have proper teeth to inject the venom, so the effectiveness of the delivery is very low.

  • Size: about 4 feet.
  • Color: dark gray, brown, yellow, black – different colors within the same family.
  • Venom: extremely weak when it comes to humans.
  • Food: small frogs, lizards, salamanders and birds.

6. Black Racer

Scientific name: Coluber constrictor

Also known as the ‘eastern racer’, this species of snake is common in the entire Empire State of the South, and it’s also one of the most common snakes in Georgia.

They enjoy wet areas, as they’re one of the most dexterous snakes in the world – they’re great swimmers and climbers, while they can also move incredibly quickly for a snake – which is why they’re called racers.

  • Size: about 60 inches at full length.
  • Color: black.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: small lizards, frogs, birds, rodents.

7. Rainbow Snake

Scientific name: Farancia erytrogramma

This snake, found in the southern half of Georgia (with a small population in Newton, Jasper, Morgan and Walton counties), is the most intriguing-looking snake on this list.

They’re almost 50 inches long with primarily black scales, but also blue, red and green glossy scales over those black scales. This creates a rainbow-like effect, especially when they’re wet.

  • Size: no more than 48 inches.
  • Color: primarily black, with red, green and blue scales, creating a rainbow effect.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: small eels.

8. Mud Snake

Scientific name: Farancia abacura

Found all over Georgia, except for the northern quarter of the state, the mud snakes are found exclusively in wetlands and highly aquatic areas. The only time they’re found outside of aquatic areas is when they’re traveling from one body of water to another.

This secretive species mostly moves at night, eating salamanders and earthworms, while they spend the day hiding in vegetation. They leave water very rarely, only to mate.

  • Size: about 50 inches, with a record-holding mud snake being 80 inches-long.
  • Color: black with a red underside – they often have red markings on their head.
  • Venom: none – they overpower their prey and swallow it alive.
  • Food: mostly salamanders and earthworms.

9. Copperhead

Scientific name: Agkistrodon contortrix

This venomous snake can be found everywhere in Georgia, except for the southeastern third of the state. They’re tolerant of many different habitats, so you can easily spot them in the water, as much as in the woods.

The copperhead is one two seriously venomous species on this list, but their venom is very rarely lethal – if bitten, an adult human will develop a painful swell. It’s only seriously dangerous for small animals.

  • Size: thick, about 3 feet-long.
  • Color: bands of pink, rust, brown and dark brown.
  • Venom: painful and slightly dangerous, but rarely lethal for humans.
  • Food: mainly small animals – rodents, birds, rabbits.

10. Cottonmouth

Scientific name: Agkistrodon piscivorus

Inhabiting the opposite environment to the copperhead, the cottonmouth lives everywhere but the northeastern third of the state. There, they rarely leave lakes, streams and swamps, as they’re one of the most aquatic venomous snakes.

Their venom is more dangerous than that of a copperhead, leading to tissue degradation if not treated quickly. Although people rarely die from their bites, professional medical attention is urgently required if bitten.

  • Size: very thick, heavy snakes – no longer than 35 inches.
  • Color: sometimes completely black, also dark brown – very white mouth.
  • Venom: causes serious tissue degradation. Rarely lethal but requires immediate medical attention.
  • Food: mostly fish, also small mammals, birds and frogs.

11. Plain-bellied Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia erythrogaster

Also known as the ‘red-bellied water snake’, this non-venomous species lives in almost the entire state of Georgia, except for the northern and southeastern pockets.

They’re mostly dark, with a lighter, red-colored belly, which makes them easy to identify. Plain-bellied water snakes will often travel away from water, which is unorthodox for water snakes.

  • Size: no longer than 40 inches.
  • Color: dark on top (black or brown), and a light-colored, red belly.
  • Venom: none, they wait for prey submerged and strike from the water.
  • Food: frogs, fish and salamanders.

12. Banded Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia fasciata

We can find this snake in the southeastern half of Georgia, where it spends the majority of its time in fresh water. It is, unfortunately, often mistaken for the cottonmouth – so people kill it in fear.

However, these snakes are very quick and agile, so they’re difficult to catch. They’re active during both day and night, waiting for prey in the shallows. Despite usually being dark green and dark brown, there are red and auburn specimens too.

  • Size: about 40 inches.
  • Color: dark green and dark brown, with more rare auburn specimens.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: mostly frogs and small fish.

13. Florida Green Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia floridana

Commonly known as the largest of all water snakes, the Florida green water snake is often seen crossing the border into southern Georgia, with a separate colony in the southeast – bordering South Carolina.

There, these snakes live in marshes and slow rivers, but also ditches and ponds. They’re not venomous and they mainly eat fish, feeding primarily at the end of the day.

  • Size: usually up to 55 inches – sometimes exceeding this.
  • Color: dark green, gray and black – some dark red specimens too.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: small fish.

14. Common Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia sipedon

Also known as the ‘northern water snake’, appropriately, they inhabit the northern half of Georgia, staying near water habitats – lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams.

They’re one of the most common water snakes in the entire country and people often confuse them for cottonmouths (they’re also thick, long and black). The common water snake isn’t venomous, though, and it mostly eats fish.

  • Size: about 4 feet, very thick.
  • Color: completely black, sometimes dark brown, olive.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: mostly small fish.

15. Brown Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia taxispilota

The last entry on our list, the brown water snake can be found in almost the entire state, but they steer clear of the northern quarter of Georgia. In their natural habitats, they stay very close to water – especially permanent water bodies.

Out of all water snakes, they’re the ones that spend the least time on land. Interestingly, they seem to understand that fish can’t survive on land, so they kill them by biting and dragging them out to shore, where they eat them once they’re overpowered.

  • Size: extremely up to 60 inches, but usually less than 50.
  • Color: dark brown.
  • Venom: none, they kill by dragging fish out to shore.
  • Food: mostly fish.

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