Many outdoor enthusiasts have encountered snakes around ponds, lakes, creeks, rivers, or other wet areas. Without a field guide, how would you know what kind it was?  There are many kinds of water snakes including red bellied (shown above), banded, brown and southern to name a few. Comparing their markings to a water moccasin can confuse the casual glance. Rest assured, a brochure provided by the GA DNR contains excellent advice, photos and information on water moccasins and water snakes. Here are some highlights on identifying these reptiles of the aquatic persuasion:

  • Water moccasins, or "Cottonmouths," are relatively short and wide. Water snakes are longer and more slender.
  • Water moccasins bask on land, or on logs and stumps near water surface.
    Water snakes are good climbers and spend a lot of time basking on branches hanging over water.
  • Water moccasins move slowly and defend their territory while water snakes move quickly away from disturbances.
  • When swimming, cottonmouths keep their heads elevated above the water and bodies riding nearly on the water surface. Water snakes keep their head and body low and below the water surface.
  • Cottonmouths always cock their heads at a 45 degree angle on land. Water snakes keep their heads level with the ground.
  • Both snakes feed on fish, frogs and other prey found around aquatic habitats.