Common Watersnake

Nerodia sipedon


Description:  Usually varying shades of brown with ‘saddles’ on the back that narrow as they go down the sides. They also have small bands that extend upward from the belly independent of the saddles on the back. Round eye pupil. Usually between 24 – 42 inches long, but snakes longer than 36 inches are less common. Females are usually longer and heavier bodied than the males.

Habitat: Found in all aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats throughout the state.

Life History: Breeding occurs in the spring shortly after emerging from hibernation and may continue thru June. They give live birth to up to as many as 70 young usually in late August-thru October.

Range: Statewide

Additional Notes:

Behavior: Will usually try to escape, but will readily strike and bite when cornered and threatened.

Subspecies Occurring in Tennessee: Two sub-species occur in Tennessee, the Northern watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) and the Midland watersnake (Nerodia sipedon pleuralis)

Distribution of the Common Watersnake  in Tennessee

Map by Susan Marden, TWRA, GIS Lab