Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster, 28 March 2012

Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster, the Redbelly watersnake;
Coastal coastal plain of Georgia (28 March 2012).

From 2011 through 2013, I lived and worked in Valdosta, Georgia. One of the delightful perks of teaching at Valdosta State University was an abundance of Redbelly watersnakes (Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster) living on campus. I frequently found this non-venomous watersnake species loitering about the dominant canal-line creek that cut its way through campus. Though it comes close, this is not a species that typically ranges south to the part of eastern central Florida where I’m from and once again now live. Being an uber-fan of Nerodia watersnakes, then, my time at VSU was certainly a gift on this front. Redbelly watersnake hunt small fish and frogs and are largely diurnal. Though they are entirely non-venomous, far too many people confuse this species with the venomous Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon conanti; Agkistrodon piscivorus) — even though they look nothing alike. Fortunately, most folks at VSU never even noticed them. People have a habit of walking with their eyes glued to their phones these days. From a certain perspective, I guess that’s a blessing for the snakes trying to scratch out a living on a busy university campus!

Learn more about the Redbelly watersnake in Florida and Georgia!

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