Broad-banded Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata confluens)
The Broad-banded Watersnake is a subspecies of the Southern Watersnake. It is a medium-bodied species. As the name suggests, the Broad-banded Watersnake is patterned with dark, broad bands. These brown or black bands are separated by lighter, irregular-shaped bands. The lighter bands are usually tan or light orange. Along the sides, brown blotches are sometimes present. On occasion, the darker bands touch, causing a break in the lighter bands across the back. Like other nonvenomous watersnakes, it has several dark, vertical lines that outline the upper lip scales. A dark line is often present running from the corner of each eye diagonally down to the corner of the mouth. The belly is boldly patterned in checkerboard blotches of dark red/brown and lighter tan/orange. The scales are keeled and the anal plate is divided.
Juveniles look almost identical to the adults but tend to be lighter in coloration.
All of the species of watersnakes that occur in Arkansas look similar and it does take some practice to tell them apart (even from the venomous Cottonmouth!). Refer to each species account to learn the subtle differences.
This species is also known as the Pink Flamingo Snake or Yellow Moccasin.
The Broad-banded Watersnake can be found living concurrently with other species of watersnakes in and around lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, and drainage ditches. This species is especially common in swamp and marsh habitats. It is at home in areas of thick vegetation, where food and cover from predators is abundant.
This species may be active during the day or night. In daylight hours, it may be observed basking in vegetation along shorelines, or on rocks or logs. It may also be observed swimming or poking its head out of water near shorelines. Most foraging, however, takes place at night.
This species mates in the spring and gives live birth in the summer.
This species feeds primarily on fish and frogs.
It uses stealth to move about vegetation and debris to find and catch its food. It commonly hunts at night, especially after it rains, when frogs are most active.
This species will usually attempt to flee into water or a root system along a shoreline rather than fight. When cornered, it will flatten its head, strike and bite vigorously, and may emit a foul-smelling musk. Although aggressive when first caught, if handled gently, this species will normally become very docile. Due to its aggressive behavior and its habitat, it is commonly mistaken for the venomous Cottonmouth and killed on sight.
Many people mistake this species for a Cottonmouth and kill it on sight. This is especially true at southern rural farm ponds and fish farms where people "protect" their fish stock. Despite persecution, populations of this species appear secure.