Black Snake with Greenish/Yellow Belly
Huntsville, Texas: June 16. 2004
Thanks to D.B., Huntsville, Texas, for sending in this photo.
It is difficult to identify this snake positively, as it has few dorsal markings and the photo does not show details of the snake's dorsal or lateral head. It has a medium-stout body, with a pale belly that is uniformly yellow in color and has a small amount of dark pigmentation on the edges of the belly scales near their intersection with the lateral body scales. Indistinct blotches are repeated along the snake's lateral and dorsal body. All of these features are found with the yellow-bellied water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster) and with few other snakes found in Texas.
The yellow-bellied water snake is found throughout eastern Texas, as well as the gulf coast states, the Carolinas, and as far north as Kansas and Missouri. It, along with all species in the genus Nerodia, is quick-tempered and aggressive. If handled it will bite its handler repeatedly while disgorging foul-smelling musk and fecal matter in an effort to discourage any attempt to retain control of the animal. Although its bite will bleed profusely for a few minutes, its tiny teeth do not penetrate deeply and the puncture wounds and abrasions heal in a few days, usually without complications.
Its diet consists of frogs and toads, supplemented with crayfish and other aquatic organisms.
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