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Banded Water Snake

Family: Colubridae Banded Water SnakeNerodia fasciataPhoto Animal-World: Courtesy Zach
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Hi, I was wondering if I could legally keep and breed wild NORTHERN water snakes. I would like to catch them in a trap (I was thinking a parcaly submerged minnow... (more)  Anonymous

   The Banded Water Snake as well as the common water snake are inexpensive and extremely hardy snakes.

   The Banded Water Snake may initially be nervous or aggressive. When picked up they will discharge an offensive musky odor as a means of defense, and they may bite.
  Generally they calm down with gentle handling and then they will rarely use this odor discharge as a defense measure. Some will gentle to the point of accepting food from your hand while others will always bite.

For more Information on keeping Snakes see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Herptile

Geographic Distribution
Nerodia fasciata
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  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Nerodia
  • Species: fasciata

Distribution:    Banded Water Snakes are found in North America, specifically in the southern part of the United States.

Description:    The Banded Water Snake will grow to an average length of 30 inches (76cm), though they can grow up to four and one half feet. They are a heavy bodied, keeled snake.
   Their natural color is a deep brown or reddish-brown background with brown crossbands that are wider on the back and narrowing on the sides. The belly is yellowish, brightly spotted with red and black. Older snakes tend to loose the banding, becoming almost an even brown.

Feeding:   Their diet consists of small fish, frogs, salamanders and crayfish. Feed every few days as they don't eat much at once and are very active. Fresh water in a shallow dish should always be available.

Environment:    They do not eat other snakes, and so they can be housed alone or in groups with other snakes of similar size and habits.
   You can set up their terrarium as either a woodland terrarium or an aqua terrarium. Although they need high humidity and are often aquatic, you must keep the basking side of their terrarium very dry to avoid skin infections, especially boils. See the terrarium types described under Basic Reptile and Amphibian Care for more information. This snake needs a hiding place and a small water dish. They like to climb, so a vertical or semi-vertical tree limb with some plant vining is great.

Temperature and Lighting requirements:    They do well with temperatures around 77° F (28° C) in the daytime and cooler at night. Full spectrum lighting is important for your snakes well being and its long-term maintenance. You can use a a low wattage full spectrum incandescent daytime bulb and a blacklight bulb or red incandescent bulb for nighttime heating if necessary. Be sure you use a thermometer so you don't let the terrarium become overheated!

   These snakes are livebearers and generally have about 25 babies in the late summer months. Robert Anderson states in his book, A Step-by-Step Book About Snakes, 1995, that there have been litters of up to 44 babies reported. The young are about 8 inches (20 cm) long and are brightly patterned. Their musk glands are fully developed and they will bite. They breed readily in captivity.

Availability:   The Banded Water Snake is very common, readily available, and very inexpensive.

Author: Clarice Brough, CRS
Lastest Animal Stories on Banded Water Snake

Anonymous - 2012-02-21
Hi, I was wondering if I could legally keep and breed wild NORTHERN water snakes. I would like to catch them in a trap (I was thinking a parcaly submerged minnow trap with 3 or 4 minnows) and keep them as pets andeventualy add them to the zoo I want to build(I am 13 and need to get that idea past my mom). I was thinking of setting traps out as soon as possible but I have no minnow traps so would appreciate it if you guys gave me some instructions on how to build one or a good place to buy one. I plan on keeping them in a 20 gallon aquarium until I get permition from my mom to let me build a large reptile encloser in the back yard. Also I want to start a pet store and I already have fish I can breed so I was thinking why not have a reptile part of the store.

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-02-21
    You would have to check with Fish and Game in your state. Some states it is legal and others not. Best to know rather than get all set up, have them removed and get fined.
  • Frank Weaver - 2014-09-19
    Be careful and make sure not to get a cotton mouth!
Anonymous - 2009-04-12
Please do not feed these snakes goldfish! They contain an enzyme called thiaminase that blocks a snake's absorbtion of vitamin b1 (thiamine). Eventually after a long period of eating goldfish a snake WILL die of thiamine deficiency. It could take months, or even years, but goldfish in the diet WILL shorten the lifespan of a snake considerably. Catfish, smelt, rosy reds and carp also contain thiaminase and should not be fed. You can safely feed guppies, platies, mollies, or strips of salmon, tilapia, or trout from the grocery store with a calcium supplement added. You can also wean fish eating snakes onto a diet of rodents by scenting the dead mouse with the fish it likes to eat. Eating rodents is safe for them and will even reduce the amount of smelly runny poops! For more information, visit thamnophis . com

  • christina stanley - 2011-08-28
    Thanks for the info. My neighbor caught a banded water snake and she had had a bunch of babies the next day. He gave me three of them. Good to know now what fish to feed them.
tabitha - 2011-01-21
I've looked and can't find anything on it, but when I lived in chactaw oklahoma I saw a yellow black red brown banded snake about 10 ft long and it was pretty big around too. It came out of the pond toward me and then turned around and went back in, it was the coolest thing ever. What kind was it?

  • JD - 2011-01-28
    There's only a few snakes that get to 10ft+ and that's the python family and anacondas if someones given you an answer then please let me know.
  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-03-23
    10 feet is very large. Maybe it was shorted then you thought?? Large corn snake maybe?
  • john - 2012-03-23
    There is some kind of python in Arizona. It could of found its way there. There are also some boas in texas and its surrounding states.
pia - 2011-12-24
I've never thought that I would have a snake in my house as a pet. But I've had my snake for 2 days lol and I love it! My 1st one! Still learning on how to care for it and all, haven't touched it yet. Baby steps! If anyone can give me any pointers on things I shoul do, how to pick it up without him biting me. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks

Dawn Epstein - 2010-12-15
My son found a banded water snake, it is about 10 inches long and very docile. We have had him almost 2 weeks, have aquatic tank with heater etc. He will not eat. We have tried small feeder fish and crickets, any ideas? Thanks!

  • Austin - 2010-12-28
    If your tank is completely aquatic then you'll need to change that because it will cause blisters ..what you may want to try is putting the snake in a small container filled with a little bit of water and some guppies and put it in a dark area for a bit- this is how I have have gotten a lot of snakes to eat also if it's a water heater then that might be stressing him out they should have a warm and cool side so he can move if it gets too hot.. if he is in a completely aquatic heated tank that may be what is stressing him out if he still won't eat then try to feed him by hand- grab him behind the head and push the fish into the mouth and he should swallow it then you might try the other way again .. if this still doesn't work you may want to try worms ((preferably from a bait shop so you don't take risks of them having been exposed to yard chemicals)) or small frogs a cage filled with bark chips or dirt with a hide and a water bowl would suffice as long as it wont be getting too cold since they are a more temperate species.

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