kids encyclopedia robot

Brown water snake facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Brown water snake
Brown Water Snake.jpg
Nerodia taxispilota in West Palm Beach, Florida
Conservation status
Scientific classification
  • Tropidonotus taxispilotus
    Holbrook, 1842
  • Natrix taxispilota
    Cope, 1889
  • Nerodia taxispilota
    — Conant & Collins, 1991

The brown water snake (Nerodia taxispilota) is a large species of nonvenomous natricine snake endemic to the southeastern United States.

Lycodonomorphus rufulus is sometimes also called the brown water snake, but L. rufulus is found in South Africa.

Common names

Its common names include brown water snake, water-pilot, aspic, false moccasin, great water snake, pied water snake, southern water snake, and water rattle.

Geographic range

N. taxispilota is found in lower coastal regions from southeastern Virginia, through North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, to northern and western Florida (Gulf Coast), then west through Missouri, Alabama, and Mississippi, to Louisiana, normally from sea level to 500 ft. (150 m) elevation. The Nerodia Taxispilota is also very common in Michigan.


The brown water snake is very heavy-bodied, and its neck is distinctly narrower than its head. Dorsally, it is brown or rusty brown with a row of about 25 black or dark brown, square blotches down its back. Smaller similar blotches alternate on the sides. Ventrally, it is yellow, heavily marked with black or dark brown. Dorsal scales are in 27-33 rows (more than any other North American water snake), and it has two to four anterior temporals (usually one in others). Adults measure 30-60 in. (76–152 cm) in total length; record 69 in. (175 cm).


N. taxispilota is found in swamps and streams and is often mistaken for a moccasin.


N. taxispilota is ovoviviparous. Mating takes place in the spring on land or on tree branches. On average, adult females are larger than adult males. The young are born alive, usually in August, in broods of 14-58, more commonly 30-40. The newborns are 7-10¾ in (18–27 cm) long, with males longer than females, opposite of adults.

Brown water snake (Nerodia taxispilota) Central Florida
brown water snake (Nerodia taxispilota)
  • Conant, R., and W. Bridges (1939). What Snake Is That? A Field Guide to the Snakes of the United States East of the Rocky Mountains. (with 108 drawings by Edmond Malnate). New York and London: D. Appleton-Century. Frontispiece map + viii + 163 pp. + Plates A-C, 1-32.) (Natrix taxispilota, pp. 106–107 + Plate 20, Figure 58).
  • Morris, P.A. (1948). Boy's Book of Snakes: How to Recognize and Understand Them. A volume of the Humanizing Science Series, edited by Jacques Cattell. New York: Ronald Press. viii + 185 pp. ("The Brown Water Snake", pp. 84–85, 180).
  • Powell, R., R. Conant, and J.T. Collins (2016). Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Fourth Edition. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. xiv + 494 pp., 47 plates, 207 figures. ISBN: 978-0-544-12997-9. (Nerodia taxispilota, pp. 420-422, Figure 191 + Plate 41).
  • Holbrook, J.E. (1842). North American Herpetology; or, a Description of the Reptiles Inhabiting the United States, Vol. IV. Philadelphia: J. Dobson. 138 pp. (Tropidonotus taxispilotus, new species, pp. 35–36 & Plate VIII).
kids search engine
Brown water snake Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.