Hickory Ridge, AR

Yellow-bellied water snake

Gin Lee

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Yellow-bellied water snake/Gin Lee

Yellow-bellied water snake

This summer's heat has been tough to cope with for all humans, cattle, wildlife, and also for aquatic and semi aquatic reptiles, such as water snakes. All the ditches in the area (where I'm located) are bone dry. Even the grass, as well as most other plant life, is golden brown and dead.

Saturday marked the first day that I had seen a snake on my property in well over a year's time. While outside, I turned the outside water hydrant on to run the garden hose over to fill up my outside feral cat's water containers. I turned around and was met by this yellow-bellied water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster).

The snake wasn't aggressive, and it didn't try to slither away, instead it actually looked up at me with kind, desperate eyes. It appeared as though it was asking me if he could have some water. Its scales looked so dry.

The temperature was already 106 degrees F in the late morning and I knew by the looks of it; the snake was in desperate need of water. So, I turned the water sprinkler on for it. The water snake was apparently grateful as it slithered its long body over to bathe in the cool, fresh water for a bit.

This snake encounter was the best one that I can say I have ever had. Normally, the snakes that I come into contact with are, unfortunately, venomous cottonmouths, copperheads, and ground rattlesnakes. The yellow-bellied water snake isn't venomous, although it is often mistaken as such, because it closely resembles a cottonmouth in its appearance.

This species is also sometimes referred to as a plain-bellied water snake, yellow-bellied, copper-bellied, or red-bellied water snake, because the color of their bellies varies from red to yellow, but they are always without markings.

I imagine that these snakes are coming closer to civilization and they're desperately searching for water since the majority of their homes are dried up. The yellow-bellied water snake is completely harmless, a non-aggressor, and even though the species isn't venomous, they will bite should they feel threatened.

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Hickory Ridge, AR
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