Water Snake, Copperbelly

Latin name

Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta


Fast facts

  • Adult body length: 30 - 48 inches, record 62 inches
  • Length at birth: 7½ - 13 inches
  • Breeding period: April to June
  • Young per year: 5 - 27 young born alive
  • Typical foods: small fish, frogs and tadpoles


    The back and sides of this snake are uniformly black or brownish black. The under surface, in contrast, is orange red or scarlet. The scales are keeled, and the anal plate is divided in about 9 out 10 individuals.


    Overall Range
    The Copperbelly Water Snake has a small, unconnected range with populations in southern Michigan, northwestern Ohio, northeastern and southern Indiana, southeastern Illinois, and western Kentucky.

    Range in Ohio
    This snake has been found only in Hardin and Williams Counties in the northwestern part of the state. Today, only the Williams County population is known to have survived, although other isolated groups may still exist.

    Copperbelly Water Snake Ohio Map

    Local Habitat
    Woodland ponds and swampy areas, and woody edges of streams and rivers. In dry summertime they often are found in adjacent meadows and old fields.


    According to one report, these snakes are active in early evening and hunt for their food in open water. The Copperbelly Water Snake is rare in Ohio. It is very active and aggressive, and will vent its foul-smelling musk freely when threatened or attacked.