Watersnakes Thrive at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

Remember my previous blog post [Sunbathing Snakes at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge] where I shared a photo of three Diamondback Watersnakes basking at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge? Well, it seems these fascinating reptiles have become a familiar sight on my drives through the refuge!

Just the other day, as I drove past the same location, I spotted something unusual in the reeds. At first glance, I thought it might be a stick, but a second look revealed a well-camouflaged Watersnake! I had to double back for a closer look (from a safe distance, of course).

Watersnake Hanging In The Reeds
Watersnake Hanging In The Reeds

Drawing on what I learned from my last post, I believe this might be a Northern Diamondback Watersnake (Nerodia rhombifer). If I’m wrong, please let me know in the comments – I’m always learning!

Northern Diamondback Watersnakes are truly captivating creatures. Here’s a quick refresher on their characteristics and some interesting facts:

  • Habitat: These snakes love spending time in or around water, basking on branches or shrubs overhanging rivers, lakes, ponds, and even marshes.
  • Appearance: They’re large and heavy-bodied, with adults reaching lengths of 3-5 feet, sometimes even exceeding 6 feet! Their coloration is quite distinctive – a dark background with a chain-like pattern of black markings running down their body. Their bellies are a contrasting yellow or off-white with dark crescent-shaped markings.
  • Diet: Fish and amphibians are their main course. They snatch their prey with their jaws and then overpower it with a strong bite, unlike constrictors that squeeze their victims.
  • Defense Mechanisms: When feeling threatened, Northern Diamondback Watersnakes put on a show! They flatten their bodies to appear bigger and will bite fiercely if provoked. They also have a secret weapon – a foul-smelling musk they release to deter predators.
  • Reproduction: These snakes give birth to live young (viviparous) instead of laying eggs. Mating happens in spring, and females deliver between 8 and 62 babies in late summer or early fall.
  • Conservation Status: While not endangered, they face threats like habitat loss and mistaken identity as venomous snakes, leading to unnecessary harm.

Northern Diamondback Watersnakes are an essential part of Oklahoma’s aquatic ecosystems, and their presence at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge is a testament to the healthy environment the refuge provides.

Keep your eyes peeled on your next visit to Sequoyah – you might just spot one of these remarkable reptiles yourself! Have you ever encountered a Northern Diamondback Watersnake? Share your experience in the comments below!