14 Species of Water Snakes in Texas (Pictures Included)

There are plenty of snake species in Texas that spend a great amount of time in or around water. These animals can be found in swamps, marshes, lakes, and slow-moving streams and rivers.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at the most common water snakes in Texas, such as:

  • Crayfish Snake
  • Texas Garter Snake
  • Cottonmouth
  • Texas Copperhead
  • Eastern Copperhead
  • Salt Marsh Snake
  • Green Water Snake
  • Plain-bellied Water Snake
  • Southern Water Snake
  • Florida Banded Water Snake
  • Brazos Water Snake
  • Concho Water Snake
  • Diamondback Water Snake
  • Common Water Snake

Table of Contents

1. Crayfish Snake

Scientific name: Liodytes rigida

You can find this, appropriately named snake, in the eastern portion of Texas, where it spends the majority of its time in a still body of water. They require fresh, still, and clear bodies of water to sustain their feeding habits.

They prey almost exclusively on crayfish, and crayfish mostly inhabit clean waters. These snakes aren’t venomous and they’re not constrictors either – instead, they swallow live prey.

  • Size: about 16 inches, while the largest snake ever caught was 31 inches long.
  • Color: olive-brown with a white belly, glossy.
  • Venom: none, they swallow live food.
  • Food: mainly crayfish.

2. Texas Garter Snake

Scientific name: Thamnophis sirtalis annectens

This species is only found in central Texas, where they live a solitary life, usually staying close to a water source. They love marshy, flooded fields, where they can hunt for frogs.

They’ll also eat earthworms, which is why they’ll stick to moist soil if there isn’t an actual body of water. If possible, they’ll eat small mammals, bird eggs, small birds, and other small animals.

  • Size: up to 28 inches, thin.
  • Color: back is green and black with a thin red stripe down the middle.
  • Venom: some garter snakes have extremely mild venom (it’s unknown whether the Texas garter snake is among these), but they still rely on swallowing whole, live prey.
  • Food: mostly small frogs, earthworms, small birds, and bird eggs.
  • Interesting fact: if handled, they’ll release musk to deter predators.

3. Cottonmouth

Scientific name: Agkistrodon piscivorus

They’re active in east Texas, but there are also records of them alongside Rio Grande. These reports, however, are most likely of isolated populations that could have easily been eradicated by now.

They mostly hunt for fish, which is why they spend so much time in the water. These snakes are highly venomous, and although their venom usually isn’t lethal to humans, it can seriously injure a person.

  • Size: a thick snake, usually up to 35 inches in length, but some individuals can grow to be longer.
  • Color: completely black or very dark, with some color pattern on the back. The mouth is distinctly white (hence the name).
  • Venom: very potent and painful, but usually not lethal for humans.
  • Food: mainly fish and other small animals.

4. Texas Copperhead

Scientific name: Agkistrodon laticinctus

This snake is a subspecies of the Eastern copperhead, and we can find it anywhere from Central Texas to the border with Oklahoma. There, these secretive snakes are rarely seen, as they only move at night.

The Texas copperhead lives near permanent bodies of water but moves from the water to the forest, where it hunts rodents, birds, and lizards. Even though they’re venomous, their venom usually doesn’t require antivenin.

  • Size: up to 36 inches.
  • Color: light tan, almost orange, with light bands.
  • Venom: a hemotoxin (blood venom), dangerous but not lethal for humans.
  • Food: mostly rodents, birds and lizards.

5. Eastern Copperhead

Scientific name: Agkistrodon contortrix

These snakes inhabit the south and the east of the Lone Star State – there, they inhabit all habitats except for the urban environment. This certainly includes water habitats, such as swamps and still bodies of water.

They primarily feed on rodents, lizards, and large insects, but also other snakes and small birds. They’re ambush predators who mostly hide throughout the day, so it’s likely that you won’t come across one.

  • Size: up to 3 feet.
  • Color: a pink tan, often darker, with bands over the body.
  • Venom: one of the least potent venoms out of all pit vipers, not lethal to humans.
  • Food: small rodents, lizards, birds and snakes.

6. Salt Marsh Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia clarkii

The first in line of the entire genus of snakes called ‘water snakes’ on this list, the salt marsh snake inhabits parts near the Gulf, from Corpus Christi, to the east border of Texas.

There, these snakes spend their entire lives in the shallows of still bodies of water, where they mainly prey on unsuspecting fish. They do the majority of their hunting at night.

  • Size: no more than 30 inches.
  • Color: green, gray, and possibly reddish (depending on the area).
  • Venom: none, they swallow live prey.
  • Food: small fish.

7. Green Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia cyclopion

Found in southeastern Texas, the green water snake is a heavy-bodied snake that’s not difficult to recognize. You’re most likely going to find it in bayous, marshes, ponds, and slow streams.

There, they usually feed on crayfish, small fish, and small frogs. Since they have no venom, they overpower their prey with brute strength and swallow it while it’s still alive.

  • Size: large and thick – up to 55 inches long.
  • Color: dark green, olive.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: crayfish and other small fish.

8. Plain-bellied Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia erythrogaster

Although rare, you can find this species in eastern Texas. They never leave the vicinity of permanent bodies of water and they’re at their most active during the summer.

Even though they’re dependent on water, they’ll often spend days without entering it, staying on the shore instead. There, they’ll hunt for salamanders and frogs, but in the water, they hunt for fish.

  • Size: no more than 40 inches.
  • Color: very dark, but there are a few recorded bright individuals.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: small salamanders, frogs, and fish.

9. Southern Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia fasciata

Also known as the banded water snake, this snake is found in the eastern third of Texas, but also alongside the Gulf Coast. There, they live in marshes and swamps.

They mainly hunt in water, looking for frogs and fish. In appearance, they’re very similar to the cottonmouth, and they also share a habitat with them, so it often happens that people kill them for no reason.

  • Size: no more than 42 inches, thick.
  • Color: very dark green or brown.
  • Venom: none, they swallow live prey.
  • Food: frogs and fish.

10. Florida Banded Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia fasciata pictiventris

Although not a native animal in Texas, you can find her in Brownsville, where it was recently introduced. This subspecies of the Southern water snake often suffers the same fate as the Southern water snake – people kill them, mistaking them for cottonmouths.

They’re thick, usually up to 40 inches in length, and the main difference between them and the Southern water snake is the shape of the markings on the ventrals, as well as the color.

  • Size: about 40 inches.
  • Color: light brown to dark brown.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: small fish.

11. Brazos Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia harteri

We also know this snake under the name Harter’s water snake, and it’s a species endemic to Texas! Specifically, it only lives in the Brazos River system.

Unfortunately, these snakes are near-threatened, most likely because of their very limited habitat. They spend most of their time in rocky areas of the Brazos River.

  • Size: up to 32 inches.
  • Color: brown to olive green, dark marks on the underside.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: small fish, frogs and salamanders.

12. Concho Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia paucimaculata

Another species endemic to Texas, you can find this snake in west-central Texas, in the river systems of Colorado and Concho – usually in counties Coke, Runnels, Tom Green and San Saba.

Just like our previous endemic species, they’re threatened because of their limited range and habitat. They were only recognized as a species in 1992, which makes them one of the youngest snake species in the USA.

  • Size: no more than 32 inches.
  • Color: red and tan, with no dark marks on the underside.
  • Venom: none.
  • Food: mostly small fish.

13. Diamondback Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia rhombifer

You’ll likely find this species all over the Lone Star State, where it inhabits slow-moving streams and rivers, as well as swamps and lakes. They often hunt by hanging on branches over water, dropping into water to chase the prey.

It’s non-venomous, just like all other water snakes, but its bite is rather painful because of its sharp teeth – their teeth are possibly the strongest out of all water snakes, so they’re capable of holding on to fish very well.

  • Size: up to 50 inches.
  • Color: brown and green, with a black netting pattern on the back.
  • Venom: none, but a very strong bite.
  • Food: mostly fish.

14. Common Water Snake

Scientific name: Nerodia sipedon

Another species of snake you can find across the entire state of Texas, these are some of the most common water snakes on the entire continent. They usually hide in thick vegetation and plant stems.

They always live near steady bodies of water, such as lakes, marshes, and swamps, where they hunt for small fish and frogs, but also small mice and birds.

  • Size: up to 4 feet and 5 inches.
  • Color: brown and gray, but also red in some areas. Dark crossbands along the entire body.
  • Venom: none, but their saliva contains an anticoagulant – this might be evolution in progress, but it’s harmless for humans and it can only hurt small animals.
  • Food: mostly fish, frogs, and other small animals.

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