Banded Water Snake

provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

The banded water snake or Florida watersnake (Nerodia fasciata) is a native, semiaquatic snake to the midwest and southeastern United States. They are found throughout Florida in freshwater habitats like streams, lakes, ponds, swamps, canals, and marshes. Occasionally, they can be found in slightly brackish waters. Their diet consists of crayfish, tadpoles, other small fish, toads, frogs, salamanders, newts, and small mammals.

Banded water snakes are nonvenomous snakes who are commonly confused with venomous cottonmouth snakes. Banded water snakes are typically gray, greenish-gray, or brown in color with dark cross-banding. Due to variation in color the banding may not always be noticeable. A banded water snake’s head will be slender flowing smoothly into the neck and rest of the body whereas a cottonmouth’s neck is much more narrow when it meets the head. Banded water snakes have thin vertical bands around the mouth while the venomous cottonmouth has no bands on the mouth and has one thick horizontal band extending back from the eye.

On November 10, an adult Banded Water Snake (# 21-5699) was admitted from Fort Myers with a possible eye injury. Veterinarians found the right eye to be clouded with evidence of a retained spectacle. Snakes don’t have eyelids instead they have protective, clear scales called ‘spectacles’. Spectacles serve the same function as eyelids keeping out dirt and debris while preventing the eye from drying out. Normally, spectacles will come off when a snake sheds its skin; however, if the spectacle does not shed as it should then there will be a retained spectacle. Several conditions can mimic a retained spectacle. In this case, veterinarians suspect hypothermia (low body temperature) resulted in an incomplete shed and a retained spectacle; though the eye issue could have been the result of ocular trauma. The snake will continue to receive eye soaks and antibiotics under supportive care in rehab.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (11/5-11/12):
There were 51 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 21 eastern cottontails, six brown pelicans, four eastern gray squirrels, four laughing gulls, three anhingas, a banded water snake, a northern flicker, and a common gallinule. Recent Releases include three eastern cottontails, a common snapping turtle, a striped mud turtle, a peninsula cooter, and an American kestrel. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases!

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year!

Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.