Mississippi Green Watersnake (Nerodia cyclopion)
This species is generally brown to olive with an obscure reticulated patterning. One might describe it as "drab". A unique characteristic among other similar-looking Nerodia is the presence of a row of scales between the eye and upper labial scales. The belly is patterned with a series of light half-moons on a darker background.
This species looks strikingly similar to the Diamond-backed Watersnake (albeit less distinctly patterned) and, to a lesser extent, other Watersnakes of the genus Nerodia. Definitive identification requires a close examination of the head scalation and/or the belly patterning. Given that the venomous Cottonmouth also shares its habitat and can look dangerously similar to the untrained eye, safety should take precedence over curiosity!
This is a semiaquatic species of slow moving back waters. Swamp-like conditions provide ideal habitat.
While this species may sometimes be found basking along the shoreline or even up in tree limbs overhanging the water, it appears to be less conspicuous in these behaviors than its counterparts. It is mainly nocturnal.
The seasonal activity of this species is similar to other Nerodia. Breeding occurs in the spring with live young born in the summer.
Although this species is known to eat frogs and other varied aquatic prey, it is primarily a fish eater.
Presumably, this species is an active forager and utilizes hunting techniques similar to other Nerodia. This may involve prodding and searching amidst submerged structures, such as rocks, logs, and vegetation, for hiding fish. Prey is seized (but not constricted) and may be dragged to shore for consumption.
Like other Nerodia, this species is wary and will dart to the safety of water and submerge if given an opportunity. If cornered or trapped, however, it will defend itself with lunging strikes. If grabbed, it will thrash, bite, and musk!
This species is considered rare by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. Threats include the drainage of wetland areas. As with other watersnakes, it is sometimes mistaken for the venomous Cottonmouth and killed on sight.