4 Types of Water Snakes in Indiana (Pictures)

Indiana’s 36,418 square miles is home to 86 lakes, 65 rivers, and thousands of streams, ponds, and marshes. Indiana even has 45 miles of coastline on Lake Michigan. These types of habitats make perfect ecosystems for many types of aquatic and semi-aquatic wildlife. In this article however, we’re talking about a certain type of wildlife. We’re going to learn about the 4 types of water snakes in Indiana.

Pretty much all snakes are expert swimmers, whether or not they are considered “water snakes” or not. Snakes are just built for swimming, though some snakes are actually considered aquatic. Nerodia are a Genus of colubrid, non-venomous snakes referred to as water snakes. To stay within the scope of our topic, we will only include species from this Genus on this list of water snakes in Indiana.

With that being said, let’s have a look!

4 types of water snakes in Indiana

The 4 types of water snakes in Indiana are the common water snake, midland water snake, red-bellied water snake, and the diamondback watersnake.

1. Common water snake

Common water snake on a log

Scientific name: Nerodia sipedon

The common water snake, often referred to as the northern water snake, is the most “common” water snake in the state of Indiana and are found throughout the entire state. They grow to 3.5-4.5 feet in length as adults and live pretty much anywhere there is water.

As you might expect, northern water snakes feed on fish, crayfish, amphibians, reptiles, and any other small animals they can find. Common water snakes have different shades and bands of gray, brown, and tan. Juvenile snakes are always more brightly colored than older snakes whose patterns and colors tend to fade with age. It’s the adults that are often mistaken for venomous snakes like copperheads or rattlesnakes.


2. Midland water snake

Midland water snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Nerodia sipedon pleuralis

The midland water snake is a subspecies of the northern water snake and look similar, but with lighter colors and they are smaller. Midland water snakes typically only reach 2-3 feet in length as adults. These snakes are common throughout much of the Southern and Southeastern United States, and as far north as the southern half of Indiana.

This subspecies is going to have the same basic diet as other water snakes and be found near places like streams, rivers, marshes, ponds, lakes, and wetlands.


3. Red-bellied water snake

Copperbelly water snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta

The red-bellied water snake, commonly called the copperbelly water snake, is another one of the medium sized water snakes in Indiana. This species mainly occurs in extreme Southwestern and extreme Northeastern Indiana, though there may be some spotty populations in southern parts of the state. The population in Northern Indiana is actually protected by the endangered species act.

On top they may be dark or light brown, with a fiery red copper belly underneath. Most will grow to about 4 feet in length as adults and prefer to live in slow moving waters, swamps, and marshes. Copperbelly water snakes feed mainly on frogs and tadpoles, but may also take salamanders, fish, and crayfish as prey.


4. Diamondback water snake

Diamondback water snake | source: USFWS Midwest Region via Flickr

Scientific name: Nerodia rhombifer

The diamondback water snake is only found in extreme Southwestern Indiana, near the borders of Illinois and Kentucky. They are one of the largest species of water snakes in Indiana and can easily reach 4-5 feet as adults. In addition, they can have very thick bodies which makes them look even bigger and more intimidating.

They get their name from the diamond shaped patterns that goes along the length of their backs. These patterns are most visible in juveniles and younger snakes. Like the common water snake, as the snake matures the patterns fade and the snake will look dark brown in appearance at a glance. Diamondback water snakes stick to shallow waters and shorelines where they look for easy prey like amphibians and slow moving fish.

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