Copperbelly Water Snakes

Copperbelly Water Snakes

Copperbelly Water Snakes Need Your Help!

The copperbelly water snake is a threatened species in northern Indiana but is very common at Muscatatuck and in Jackson and Jennings Counties. It is a wetland snake that rarely ventures far from wetland habitat.

Copperbelly water snakes have a solid black back and a bright orange-red belly. They grow to between three and five feet in length and are not venomous. The snakes live in lowland swamps or other warm, quiet waters.  Upland woods are used as winter hibernation sites where the snakes stay in holes in the ground. These snakes do not dig holes but live in holes made by other animals, especially crayfish.

Young copperbelly snakes are born in the fall near or in the winter hibernation site. The average litter size is 18 young. The snakes eat frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, and small fish.

Copperbelly water snakes live in southern Michigan, Indiana, northwestern Ohio, Illinois, and Kentucky. Some of those populations are not threatened but all are protected by conservation agreements with the States they live in. Copperbelly snakes have declined primarily because of habitat loss. Wetland habitat in many parts of the country has been drained and filled and adjacent woodland hibernation sites cleared.

Copperbelly water snakes on Muscatatuck have one big problem...people. There are a number of people so afraid of snakes that they kill every snake they see, including harmless snakes (many of which help control rodents). While copperbelly snakes have been known to approach anglers with fish baskets and stringers they do not attack people and are only interested in the smell of "food". The best behavior if you see a copperbelly water snake is to leave it alone (don't try to pick it up)... but you might snap a picture!  

Help spread the word about copperbelly water snakes...they are harmless to people and need our protection to survive.