Discover Nature: Water Snakes | KBIA

Discover Nature: Water Snakes

Jun 13, 2018

The Northern cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), also known as a water moccasin, is Missouri’s only venomous water snake. Many more common semi-aquatic snake species are often misidentified as cottonmouths. All snakes in Missouri are protected by the state Wildlife Code, and serve an important role in the balance of our ecosystem. Learn to identify Missouri’s water snakes and to live safely around them with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.
Credit Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, watch for water snakes basking near water… 


Missouri’s semi-aquatic snakes include the most prolific, Northern water snake, the diamond-backed water snake, yellow-bellied water snake, broad-banded water snake, and graham’s crayfish snake. 


Western mud snakes and Mississippi green water snakes are found only in the Southeast corner of the state, and the latter is an endangered species of conservation concern. 


While all of these snakes may bite in defense, if cornered, they are all non-venomous.  


Missouri’s venomous water snake, the Northern cottonmouth, also known as a water moccasin, occurs only south of the Missouri River. It’s normally found only in cool, spring-fed creeks and small rivers in the Ozarks, and swamps, lakes, and ditches in Southeastern Missouri. 


Venomous- or non-venomous, all snakes play an integral role in Missouri’s wildlife community, and generally will do everything in their power to avoid people. 


While snakes can evoke irrational fear in a wild encounter, it is unlawful to kill, harm or harass them. 


Learn more about Missouri’s water snakes and how to identify them with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide


Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.