Are There Water Snakes in Arizona? (Answered)

There are 52 species of snakes in the state, but no species of native water snakes in Arizona. Most water snakes live in southeastern parts of the United States, though some can be found as far north as New England states.

Just because no true water snakes are native to the state of Arizona, doesn’t mean there aren’t any. We’ve received reports of southern water snakes (banded water snakes) in the state that are invasive but have established themselves along the Colorado river in Southern Arizona

What exactly is a water snake?

A water snake is one of any species of non-venomous colubrid snakes in the Genus Nerodia. There are 10 types of water snakes and all around found in the United States. Some of these species have several subspecies while others do not. You can see all 10 species and learn about them in this article.

Southern water snakes in Arizona

banded water snake | image by Dan Mooney via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific name: Nerodia fasciata

The banded water snake, sometimes referred to as the southern water snake, is invasive in Arizona but is establishing a breeding population in parts of Southern Arizona along the Colorado River.

These water snakes are common in the Southeast in places like East Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and other Southern states. However if the rumors are true, they are spreading westward. Like other common water snakes, they feed on fish, crustaceans, and small vertebrates in their habitat.

What other types of snakes are in Arizona?

As mentioned above, there are a total of 52 species of snakes in Arizona, most of which have adapted to the state’s arid climate. Some common terrestrial snakes in Arizona are the 12 species of rattlesnakes, several different species of kingsnakes, and even one species of venomous coral snake.

Here are some examples of some semi-aquatic snakes in Arizona that can often be found near a body of water.

Semi-aquatic snakes in Arizona

Below are 3 types of garter snakes in Arizona that are all semi-aquatic and need to live near water to survive.

1. Black-necked garter snake

black-necked garter snake | image: ALAN SCHMIERER

These snakes can reach 42 inches in length as adults and live in parts of central and southeastern Arizona as well as other parts of the southwestern United States.

2. Checkered garter snake

checkered garter snake | image by Ashley Wahlberg (Tubbs) via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

The checkered garter snake occurs primarily in southeastern parts of Arizona. They average 28-40 inches as adults and also require water nearby to survive. They are also considered semi-aquatic and often feed on fish as a main food source.

3. Mexican garter snake

In similar fashion as the previous 2 examples, the Mexican garter is most common in the same areas of the state as the black-necked and the checkered garter snakes. Garter snakes like this one are considered non-venomous but actually a very mild venom used on their prey that wouldn’t affect a human if bitten. This species is only found in Arizona and New Mexico in the United States and only in southern portions of the states.


Again, there are no true water snakes living in Arizona but there are a few semi-aquatic species living where water is found in the state like the black-necked garter snake.

Robert from ReptileJam

Hey, I'm Robert, and I have a true passion for reptiles that began when I was just 10 years old. My parents bought me my first pet snake as a birthday present, which sparked my interest in learning more about them. read more...