endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) The range encompasses the Coastal Plain from North Carolina to southern Florida, and west to Texas, and extends north in the Mississippi Valley to southeastern Missouri and (at least formerly) southern Illinois (Conant and Collins 1991, Palmer and Braswell 1995, Phillips et al. 1999, Johnson 2000, Ernst and Ernst 2003). Introduced and established in southern Texas (Werler and Dixon 2000) and in Sacramento County, California (Balfour and Stitt 2002).
Distribution: USA (E Texas, Louisiana, SE Oklahoma, Arkansas, W Mississippi, S Alabama, Florida, S/E Georgia, S/E South Carolina, S/E North Carolina, SE Missouri, Illinois) confluens: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi pictiventris: Florida
Length: 159 cm
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Habitat consists primarily of vegetated freshwater ponds, lakes, marshes, wet prairies, sluggish streams and rivers, drainage ditches, and swamps, extending in some areas seaward to the edge of salt water meadows and marshes and mangrove swamps (Barbour 1971; Tennant 1997, 1998; Johnson 2000; Werler and Dixon 2000; Ernst and Ernst 2003; Trauth et al. 2004). This snake basks on banks and in edge vegetation. It shelters in bank-side burrows or under vegetative debris.
- UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Comments: Eats frogs, toads, salamanders, tadpoles, fishes, and aquatic invertebrates.
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Comments: This species is represented by a very large number of occurrences or subpopulations. It is ubiquitous in suitable habitat throughout most of its range (Gibbons and Dorcas 2004). Werler and Dixon (2000) mapped more than 200 collection sites in Texas alone; hundreds of additional collection sites in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Arkansas were mapped by Dundee and Rossman (1989), Palmer and Braswell (1995), and Trauth et al. (2004).
100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Comments: Adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 100,000. This snake is locally abundant or common in much of eastern North Carolina (Palmer and Braswell 1995) and Arkansas (Trauth et al. 2004), and it is the most common watersnake in peninsular Florida (Tennant 1997). It is common to uncommon in different parts of its range in Texas (Tennant 1998). It is relatively scarce at the northern periphery of the range in Illinois (Phillips et al. 1999) and Kentucky (Barbour 1971).
In South Carolina, emigrated from a drought-stricken site with low water levels (Seigel et al. 1995).
Life History and Behavior
Comments: Basks by day in cool weather; most active at night, especially after summer rains (Tennant 1984, Mount 1975).
Gives birth to 2-57 young, June to August (average litter size smaller in coastal populations than in inland populations).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Nerodia fasciata
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Nerodia fasciata
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)
Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably are relatively stable or declining at a rate of less than 10 percent over 10 years or three generations.
Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%
Comments: This snake is possibly extirpated at the northern tip of the range in Illinois (Phillips et al. 1999).
Degree of Threat: Medium
Comments: No major threats are known. Locally, some populations have been reduced or eliminated as a result of drainage of wetlands or removal of aquatic vegetation (Phillips et al. 1999). Many are killed each year by people (Trauth et al. 2004), but this does not constitute a major threat.
Global Protection: Very many (>40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
Comments: Many occurrences are in protected areas.
Banded water snake
Adults of the banded water snake measures from 61 to 106.7 cm (24 to 42.0 in) in total length, with a record size (in the Florida subspecies) of 158.8 cm (62.5 in) in total length. In one study of the species, the average body mass of adult snakes was 464.3 g (16.38 oz).
It is typically gray, greenish-gray, or brown in color, with dark crossbanding. Many specimens are so dark in color that their patterning is barely discernible. They have flat heads, and are fairly heavy-bodied.
- Nerodia fasciata confluens (Blanchard, 1923)
- Nerodia fasciata fasciata (Linnaeus, 1766)
- Nerodia fasciata pictiventris (Cope, 1895)
Some sources consider Nerodia clarkii compressicauda and Nerodia clarkii taeniata to be subspecies of Nerodia fasciata. Also, some sources have considered Nerodia fasciata to be a subspecies of Nerodia sipedon.
- Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families...Colubridæ Aglyphæ, part. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, Printers). London. xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I.- XXVIII. (Tropidonotus fasciatus, pp. 242-244.)
- Stejneger, L., and T. Barbour. 1917. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 125 pp. (Natrix sipedon fasciata, p. 96.)
- Conant, R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. xviii + 429 pp. ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Natrix fasciata fasciata, p. 146 + Plate 20 + Map 100.)
- Smith, H.M., and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982 Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Golden Press. New York. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3 (paperback). (Nerodia fasciata, pp. 156-157.)
- Smargiassi, M. T.; Daghfous, G.; Leroy, B.; Legreneur, P.; Toubeau, G.; Bels, V.; Wattiez, R. (2012). "Chemical Basis of Prey Recognition in Thamnophiine Snakes: The Unexpected New Roles of Parvalbumins". In Permyakov, Eugene A. PLoS ONE 7 (6): e39560. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039560. PMC 3384659. PMID 22761824.
- Conant, R., and W. Bridges. 1939. What Snake Is That? A Field Guide to the Snakes of the United States East of the Rocky Mountains. D. Appleton-Century. New York and London. Frontispiece map + viii + 163 pp. + Plates A-C, 1-32. (Natrix sipedon fasciata, p. 103 + Plate 18, Figure 53.)
- Wright, A.H., and A.A. Wright. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Comstock. Ithaca and London. 1,105 pp. (in 2 volumes) (Natrix sipedon fasciata, pp. 525-529, Figure 156.)
- The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
- ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System). www.itis.gov.
- Schmidt, K.P., and D.D. Davis. 1941. Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York. 365 pp. (Natrix sipedon fasciata, pp. 221-222, Figure 72. + Plate 24, Center, on p. 344.)
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Salt marsh populations that were formerly included in this species are now regarded as a distinct species, N. clarkii (Lawson 1987, Lawson et al. 1991); hybrids between clarkii and fasciata occur in disturbed areas.