Diamondback water snake
Diamondback water snake,The species is found throughout most of North America, except for Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
It lives mainly in freshwater habitats, such as lakes, ponds, swamps and rivers, but it can sometimes be found in brackish waters and estuaries.
This species usually feeds on small fish, amphibians, crustaceans and insects.
Its diet includes crayfish, tadpoles, frogs, salamanders, earthworms, snails, slugs, crabs, grasshoppers, ants, beetles, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, flies, mosquitoes, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, cicadas, crickets, cockroaches, termites, scorpions, snakes, lizards, turtles and birds.
In captivity, this species eats live foods including mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, pheasants, pigeons, doves, starlings, parakeets, finches, budgies, canarybirds, macaws, hummingbirds, robins, woodpeckers, gulls, terns, pelicans, herons, egrets, owls, eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, bald eagles, ospreys, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, barn owls, blue jays, cardinals, mockingbirds, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, grosbeaks, warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, tanagers, waxwings, kinglets, orioles, bobwhites, yellowthroats, blackbirds, meadowlarks, grackles, American goldfinches, house finches, purple martins, white-winged crossbills, common ravens, American kestrels, merlins, Cooper’s hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, golden eagles, turkey buzzards, bald eagles, snowy owls, short-eared owls, long-eared owls, barn owels, great horned owlers, screech owls, burrowing owls, river otters, raccoons, opossums, squirrels,
Taxonomy and systematics
The species was first described as “Tropidonotus rhombiferoides” by Edward Hallowell in his book The Natural History of Tropical America in 1852. In 1855, he renamed it to Tropidonotus rhomboidea, and in 1860, changed it again to Tropidonotus rombifer. In 1864, he published a third description, where he gave it the name Tropidonotus rhombeatus. This name did not stick however, and in 1871, he published a fourth description, giving it the name Tropidonota rhombifer. In 1880, he published a fifth description, changing the name once again to Tropidonotis rhombifer. He kept this name until 1889, when he published a sixth description, renaming it to Tropidonta rhombifer. Finally, in 1893, he published a seventh description, calling it Tritonotus rhombifer.
The diamondback water snake is a very large species of constrictor snake found in South America. Its common name derives from the diamond shape of the spots on the body. This species is one of the largest snakes in the world, reaching lengths of up to 5 m (16 ft), although most specimens are less than 2 m (6.5 ft). Females tend to grow slightly larger than males. A study published in 2012 suggested that the maximum size attained by females is about 4.4 m (14.7 ft).
This species is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. It lives in slow moving rivers, lakes, swamps, marshes, and ponds. It feeds mainly on fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and insects. It prefers muddy habitats, where it hides under logs or stones during the day. When threatened, it coils into a tight ball and hisses loudly.
Although the diamondback water snake is considered harmless, there are some reports of attacks on humans, especially children. An attack on a child occurred in Brazil in 2009; another incident happened in Argentina in 2010. These incidents involved bites causing minor wounds, but no deaths.
The diamondback water snake is among the most commonly encountered snakes in North America. Its habitat includes both freshwater and saltwater environments. It is typically active during daylight hours, although it is sometimes seen basking in the sun.
The diamondback water snakes are omnivorous; they feed primarily upon small aquatic animals like frogs, fish, crayfish, insects, worms, snails, slugs, tadpoles, and even small mammals. They do not eat plants. However, they occasionally consume large prey items such as salamanders and turtles.
A pair of adult diamondbacks will produce anywhere from 3 to 10 eggs per season. These eggs hatch into live young, which remain dependent on the female for about six months. After hatching, the young begin feeding themselves.
The diamondback water snake is one of the most common snakes in North America. They are native to rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, swamps, marshes, and slow moving waters throughout much of the United States. In the Southwestern states, they are commonly seen along creeks and small rivers. They are also found in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Bermuda. Diamondbacks are generally nocturnal, although they do come out during daylight hours to bask in the sun. Most active at nightfall and dawn, they spend the rest of the day resting in the shade. During the hot summer months, they tend to hide in cool, dark areas such as caves and rock crevices.
Diamondbacks feed primarily upon fishes, frogs, crayfish, aquatic insects, worms, snails, slugs, tadpoles, and salamanders. They occasionally eat birds, lizards, amphibians, rodents, and even smaller reptiles. Their diet consists mainly of invertebrates, though they consume a few vertebrate animals. They are considered omnivorous because they will eat both plants and animal matter. However, they usually prefer eating meatier items
The diamondback water snake is native to North America. Its distribution includes much of the southeastern United States southward into Central America, and it is present throughout most of Canada.
In the United States, it is found in the states of Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Alaska.
It occurs in southern Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Labrador. In Mexico, it is found in Coahuila, Núvo León, Tampico, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, Durango, Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua, Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Michoacán, Hidalgo, Puebla, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, and Veracruzar.
In the United States, it is common in the western half of the state of Florida, including Tampa Bay, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, Huntsville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Nashville, Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Rochester, Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse, Binghamton, Utica, Schenectady, Watertown, Elmira, Jamestown, Niagara Falls, Ithaca, Auburn.
While not endangered or threatened, Diamondback water snake is still considered vulnerable because it lives in small populations, and the habitat loss and fragmentation caused by urbanization are significant threats. Habitat destruction due to development projects such as dams and reservoirs, road building, agriculture and mining is another major cause of population decline. Human activities like pollution, overfishing, hunting, trapping and illegal trade are also factors that threaten the survival of the diamondback water snake.
The diamondback water snake is sometimes confused with the cottonmouth or rattlers, both of which are much rarer and less tolerant of disturbance. Cottonmouths live in swamps and marshes with slow moving rivers and streams, while rattlesnakes prefer dry habitats with rocky hillsides and open plains. Diamondbacks do not tolerate high temperatures well and avoid heat and humidity. They also tend to hide during the day.
Diamondbacks are most active early morning and late evening, and they feed mainly on fish, frogs, crayfish and salamanders. When disturbed, they strike quickly and retreat into nearby vegetation.
Like other Nerodia species, the Diamondback water snake water snake gives live birth. Females lay eggs in shallow waters near vegetation. Eggs hatch within 10 days, and neonates measure about 8–10 inches (20–25 centimeters) in total length. They grow rapidly, reaching sexual maturity in less than a year. Diamondbacks feed primarily on fish, frogs, crayfish, and small invertebrates.