Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)
Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae
Nerodia e. erythrogaster
Photo of Red-bellied Watersnake courtesy of Dave Wilson
30 - 48 inches. Record - 62 inches.
Photo of Red-bellied Watersnake courtesy of John White
Forested riparian areas, particularly Atlantic White-cedar and Baldcypress Swamps, and shrub swamps, from brackish to tidal fresh waters of coastal plain rivers. May travel considerable distances from water during humid periods of mid-summer. All records are from the lower Eastern Shore where it may be locally common, though rarely seen.
How to Find
Drive (or bike) slowly on roads near swamps in mid-summer looking for animals basking in the road or road-killed individuals. Warning: Will readily inflict a painful bite when handled. Non-venomous. Please report any sightings or road kills to DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service as this species is tracked as a rare Watchlist species.
Photo of Habitat for
courtesy Rebecca Chalmers
Distribution in Maryland
Found only on the Lower Eastern Shore.
- Discover Maryland's Herps
- Maryland Herp History
- Maryland Herp Checklist
- Survey Techniques, Collecting Ethics, Safety and the Law
- Problems with Buying Frogs and Tadpoles for Wild Release
- Technical Guide: A Key to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Maryland - 86.3 MB pdf file
- Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA) Project
- Natural Heritage Program
- Wildlife & Heritage Home
"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"
To see older newsletters, please visit the MARA Resource Page.
The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.