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The Diamondback Water Snake

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The Diamondback Water Snake is the most giant North American water snake. Another name for this species is the Diamond-backed Water snake. However, it belongs to the ‘colubrid’ family of non-venomous snakes. Because they tend to bite, they are sometimes mistaken for poisonous cottonmouth. This critter is also misdiagnosed as the deadly ‘rattlesnake,’ or even a ‘water moccasin,’ a kind of pit viper. Its dark coloring and irritable nature are frequently killed out of fear. It is a member of the genus’ Nerodis,’ which includes only species found in North America.

KINGDOMAnimalia
SCIENTIFIC NAMENerodia rhombifer
FAMILYColubridae
LENGTH76-122 CM
WEIGHT1300-1580 g
LIFE SPAN10 YRS

Appearance

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Diamondback water snake
(Image Credit: Shutterstock)

One of the most remarkable characteristics of the diamondback water snake (Nerodia rhombifer) is its roughly diamond-shaped pattern on its back. However, its name is deceptive since the design on its back looks more like a chain than a diamond. The ventral and dorsal regions of these animals are covered with dark blotches.

Most of these snakes are dark brown. However, they may be anything from bright yellow to dark olive green depending on the individual water. They may be beige, light yellow, or light brown on the underside, which is the most common hue.

They have black spots running vertically along the length of them. Their papillae or tubercles, located on the rear of their chin, make them different from other snakes of the United States. With time, water snakes’ coloration darkens from a paler shade of brown to a more uniform tan.

Lifespan

There is very little data concerning how long may these snakes survive. On the other hand, captive specimens have been shown to live for upwards of ten years.

Distribution

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Diamondback water snake
(Image Credit: Shutterstock)

Diamondback Water Snakes may be found across the United States, although they are most common in the Midwest. It is primarily widespread throughout the Mississippi River valley, with its range encompassing both the eastern and the western planes in Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, and Indiana. They are also found in northern Mexican states of Nuevo León, Veracruz, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas

Classification of Species

Three different subspecies of the Nerodia rhombifer, including the initially reported population, have been recognized:

  1. Blanchard’s Nerodia rhombifer (1938)
  2. Nerodia rhombifer rhombifera (1852) (1852)
  3. Nerodia rhombifer werleri (1953) (1953)

Habits and Lifestyle

These semi-aquatic snakes are mainly solitary animals; they spend most of their existence alone, and only during hibernation they may share dens with other snakes. Diamondback waters snakes are active throughout the day. When looking for food, they will hang on branches dangling above the water, lowering their head beneath the surface of the water until they meet a fish or other prey. These snakes are usually spotted sunning on branches above water, and when approached, they will rapidly descend into the water and swim away. They hiss and flatten their bodies and heads to make themselves look bigger if confronted. Biting is usually reserved for situations in which they are physically harassed or mistreated. These snakes’ keen fangs, designed to grip slippery fish, make their bites notoriously unpleasant. Unfortunately, this protective behavior is usually misread as hostility and often leads to Diamondback water snakes mistaken for the poisonous cottonmouth, with whom they share habitat in specific locations.

Diet and Nutrition

Carnivores, diamondback water snakes (piscivores). They prey on a range of aquatic animals such as fish (both dead and living), frogs, toads, salamanders, crayfish, and minnows. They may also hunt juvenile turtles.

Mating and Reproduction

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Diamondback water snake mate
(Image Credit: Shutterstock)

The breeding season of the diamondback water snake occurs throughout the springtime, while they give birth during the late summer months or early autumn. After breaking out from winter’s hibernation, the act of copulation is typically placed immediately away. By other North American ‘Nerodia’ species, diamondback turtles are ovoviviparous. Even though this species’ distribution overlaps with a few different water snake species, researchers have found no evidence of interbreeding between the two.

Multiple male snakes may pursue one female at the same time. Before mating, snakes choose locations such as banks or even the water. However, they would typically seek basking perches like branches of trees or bushes where they would usually mate, hanging over the water surface.

During sexual interaction, the duo commonly performs ruffling and rolling motions with their bodies. Both the snakes could stay locked up for lengthy periods, perhaps for almost an hour or more. The gestation period of the female diamondbacks may range between three and five months.

Related: How do snakes mate ?

Predators

Diamondback Water Snakes are among the most giant snakes in the United States, although they lack apex predator status and are often preyed upon by other species. Some of its frequent predators are snapping turtles, opossums, raccoons, foxes, and various kinds of snakes. With the first hint of danger, the snake would usually flee into the water. Also, the helpless newborn diamondbacks are commonly devoured by creatures ranging from the wide variety of fishes and frogs to other snakes, mammals, and birds of prey.

Adaptations

An offensive odor was often released by these snakes when threatened or touched.

Unlike poisonous snakes, it may deliver a potently powerful and severe bite.

They can vomit any previously consumed food upon any assailants. Defense mechanisms include things like these.

While it is not poisonous, its bite may introduce a small quantity of an anticoagulant, inhibiting the wound from healing rapidly. The benefit of such an adaptation is that, if its victim flees, the snake can simply follow the trail of blood that the wounded animal has left behind and fetch it back.

The diamondback water snake’s fangs are designed to grip slippery prey like fish since they hunt primarily in water.

As soon as it senses a threat, the snake hisses loudly and elongates its body and head to make itself look more prominent.

Endangered species

Diamondback water snakes don’t encounter any severe risks. However, in certain sections of their distribution, they suffer from the loss and deterioration of the aquatic environment and human ignorance. These snakes are commonly mistaken for cottonmouth or rattlesnakes and are killed out of fear. Even in locations where people are present, water snakes like the Diamondback and other species are significantly more abundant than deadly snakes.

Frequently Asked Questions (QNA)

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Diamondback water snake
(Image Credit: Shutterstock)

How many diamondback water snakes are there in the world?

They are regularly spotted in their populated regions. Although the number of their species is not known with certainty.

With whom do diamondback water snakes share their pond?

Water that sparkles like a diamond.

Snake prefers to spend their time alone since they are solitary animals. However, they like to share their dens with other snakes only during hibernation.

What is their mode of exchange?

Tactile, visual, chemical, and acoustic cues are the primary means they communicate communication. For example, they create hissing noises when scared.

What is the top speed of a diamondback water snake?

They are nimble and have an excellent locomotive inclination. However, not much data is known about their movement speed.

What would you name a newborn diamondback water snake?

Baby or juvenile snakes are termed neonates or snake lets. It may also be termed a young diamondback water snake.

How cute are they?

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Diamondback water snake Head
(Image Credit: Shutterstock)

They are particularly appealing because of their diamond-shaped patterns. However, some may find these animals repulsive due to their coloration.

Do you think they’d make an excellent pet?

They would not make an excellent pet since they live in the wild and are acclimated to the environment.

Are they poisonous?

Unlike the venomous black mamba or the inland taipan, they are not poisonous.

How does a diamondback water snake protect itself from its enemies?

These creatures defend themselves from different adaptations they have. They do not usually bite; instead, they’ll emit certain smelly chemicals, generate hissing noises, and erect their head and body to seem more significant than they are. However, if they are harassed or disturbed, they may harm the highly sharp diamondback water snake teeth intended to grab slippery fish.

Also Read: Western hognose snake.
Also Read: Banded water snake.
Also Read: The scarlet king snakes.

Reference

https://www.animalspot.net/diamondback-water-snake.html

https://animalia.bio/diamondback-water-snake

https://kidadl.com/animal-facts/diamondback-water-snake-facts

https://www.theadanews.com/news/lifestyles/randys-natural-world-diamondback-water-snakes/article_06ff9c21-b8b1-580c-b1c6-5b8cb085a688.html

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