Are There Water Snakes in California?

A water snake is any colubrid snake exhibiting highly aquatic behavior of the Genus Nerodia. There are also other types of snakes that are closely related to water snakes that are semi-aquatic.

California has no native water snakes but there are some invasive populations of water snakes in the state. There have been confirmed sightings of the common water snake in California, the northern subspecies and the southern subspecies, but they are not common in the state yet.

There are currently 10 different species of water snakes, all found in North America, but none are native to California. Most of these species live in the eastern half of the United States, the common water snake can be found in some midwestern states. The Brazos and the Concho water snakes are endemic to Texas.

Species of water snakes in the U.S.

  1. Common water snake
  2. Banded water snake
  3. Diamondback water snake
  4. Plain-bellied water snake
  5. Brown water snake
  6. Brazos water snake
  7. Concho water snake
  8. Mississippi green water snake
  9. Florida green water snake
  10. Salt marsh snake

Learn more about the types of water snakes.

Snakes in California that may be seen near water

There are a total of at least 33 species of snakes in the state of California with many of them being semi-aquatic. Here are 8 common species of garter snakes in California, all of which are spend much of their time in or near water.

aquatic garter snake | image: Bureau of Land Management California
  • Aquatic Garter Snake
  • Sierra Garter Snake
  • Terrestrial Garter Snake
  • Giant Garter Snake
  • Two-striped Garter Snake
  • Checkered Garter Snake
  • Northwestern Garter Snake
  • Common Garter Snake

Are there water moccasins in California?

Water moccasins are venomous snakes that are most common in the southeastern United States. There are only 4 species of venomous snakes in the U.S. that are not rattlesnakes, the water moccasin is one of those. Water moccasins get their name because they are the only semi-aquatic venomous snake in the United States and can often be spotted swimming or very near water.

Water moccasins are not native to California and do not live in the state so you will not cross paths with one. California is however, home to 12 species of rattlesnakes.

source: White Sands National Park

A few of those rattlesnakes in California are:

  • Western diamondback rattlesnake
  • Northern Pacific rattlesnake
  • Sidewinder rattlesnake
  • Mojave rattlesnake
  • Red diamond rattlesnake
  • Southwestern speckled rattlesnake
  • Southern Pacific rattlesnake

Conclusion

There are no water snakes in California, but that doesn’t mean you won’t come across any snakes in or near water in California. Water snakes refer to a specific classification of colubrid snakes and they do not occur naturally as far west as California. The northern water snake can be found as far west as Colorado.

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