last changes: Sunday, January 06, 2008

Keeping of the Banded Florida Water Snake

    Nerodia fasciata pictiventris

Weibchen drei Jahre


Weibchen drei Jahre

The banded water snakes (Nerodia fasciata) occure in the East of the USA. Nowadays in this species there are the subspecies fasciata, confluens and pictiventris, some other subpecies of former time got species status or sorted to other species. Between Illinois in North and Florida to Texas in the south you can find the species Nerodia fasciata. Ist distribution is connected to water, f.e. ponds, lakes, swamps. a.s.o.. The males become aprox. 80 cm in total lenght, the female mostly become a little longer than 100 cm. In rare cases the females grow up to nearly 1,6 m. The animals are massive and expecialy great females can get an enormous body diameter.

Keeping and behavior

Depending on literature it is often seen on branches, wich hang over standing or slowly moving water. In my vacations I been 3 times in Florida til now. In the Everglades in a dry spring I saw many of these snakes in and around the last water ponds. In times with higher water levels the water snakes is seen a little less, because they live now allover the wet area. In the hot seasons ist is partly nocturnal. In June I saw much watersnakes and cottonmouth flatned by car (dor) on the roads near the swamps, expecialy in the Everglades area. Specialy in the evening after rainfalls they are very active and very endangered on the roads. The temperatures were at 30°C dayover and aprox. 25°C in night. In the journey in April dayover it were 25-30°C, nighttime aprox. 20°C. The rainfalls began to encrease, but there were nearly no DOR snakes on the roads. In this time the animals were durinal and the roads were not warm enough in the evening to reheat the snakes there. Watersnakes allways were my interest, too and so I began several times with cheap wild caught Nerodia. But earlier or later all these animals died in deseases/parasites. Nowadays I work with captive bred animals and have no problems with the health of my water snakes at all. Those water snakes prefer temperatures between 24 and max. 30 °C, above this they become nervous. My 2 females of pictiventris are calm and not shy. In every opening of the screens they come friendly to me, there might be something to eat... But other picitiventis and confluens of mine were afraid of all for nearly one year. Today they are not hand tame, but no one of my watersnakes tries to bite. Wild caught Nerodia fasciata often emty their anal glands when handed and sometimes bite. Some captive bred are bity too, but most of them get a little calmer in keeping. My c.b. Nerodias are friendly and trie not to bite. For keeping medium sized terraria are enough, most of the adult snakes can live on 100cmX50 cm f.e.. The small snakes grow up in Fauna boxes or other small terraria. For ground gravel I used mostly hacked pieces of wood (for smoking meat or fish), in one of my terrarium I work good with pressed staw. Earth, sand cocogravel and other materials from the terraria supplier up tp newspapers are useful too. It is important that the gravel isn’t eaten with the food. A feeding outside of the terraria can be a good alternativ. In the terrarium there are some smaller climbing branches, but the massive snakes don’t use them often. On the ground there are some corc barks for hiding places. The bigger Nerodia lay often without hiding in the terrarium, the smaller ones are hidden often. For water bowl in the biggest terrarium I use open platic box with 3 l fresch water in there. The rest of the terrarium is dry. The animals are regulary in the water and stay there often for hours. So the shedings never are a problem. My banded water snakes live together with garter snakes. In the sames size Nerodia an Thamnophis can corrospondent very good, but the big females of the Nerodia can grow upt to several times of the weight of an Thamnophis male.


My animals get defrosted fish two times a week all together in the terrarium. These are little complete fresh water fisches (German: Stinte) and I feed them in one piece. Greater fishes I cut in pieces the filet. After defosting in warm water I put those fishes in a bowl (without the water) and put it in the terrarium. My animals never got a live fish in my terrariums, but this form of feeding is possible, too - but it makes a lot of work! The defrosted mice, wich I offer to the Thamnophis don’t interest the Nerodias. I add to the food alternating „Multivitamin-B-Komplex-Preparat“, next time nothing, than Multivitamin, than nothing again. In spring I add sometimes food chalk powder to the food to help the mothers to produce well developed young snakes. All those additives never disturbed my animals in feeding and they are under best health conditions for years. Small fights are regulary in feeding and it is better to feed under supervision.


In south east of the USA the winter are partly mild and f.e. on the southern tip of Florida the weather is in winter good enough for living without hibernations. In other US-States those animals hibernate up to several month. In terraria this animals should hibernate for 2 month at 5-15°C. Too, for the fathering ability of the males it is sometimes nessesary, but there often occured birth of young without hibernated snakes (males). My snakes hibernate in the terrarium for 8 weeks at aprox 12°, most time then they lay in the water bowl. Since 2004 I get little Nerodias given birth.


After the hibernation I encrease temperature and light durination. The animals live in a normal way again and I start to feed 3 times a week. The female slowly become bigger and aprox. 3 month after the mating (70-80 days/Tennant, 2003) the birth of the snakes begin. In July my Nerodia-females regulary give birth to alive little snakes, sometimes there are some dead snakes, too. It is better to seperate the gravid female befor giving birth.

Young snakes

 I got several Pictiventris when they being 0-12 month old. Some of them are very colorful with an add of red and yellow tones to the coloration of teir parents. The are born in a lenght between 15-25 cm. They grow good in small groups in small terrarium or fauna boxes. The first food of my newborn snakes allways ar cutted defrosted small fishes, I repeat it all 2-3 days. After some weeks they have eaten a lot and you mustn’t cut the fish, they can eat them whole. In further rearing I had never problems with this animals, today some of them live good with Thamnophis radix, sometimes, too, with Thamnophis marcianus.

Maturity and lifespan

 Depending on food amount and animals qualities most of the maturities were reached in the 2. or 3. year. Their normal lifespan will be a little more than 10 years.

My snakes

Now I have several Nerodia fasciata. There are some pictiventris in my groupe, wich are very colorful. The biggest sakes are my females, some of them are a little longer than 1 m.

Recommendet Literature

Wassernattern from Dieter Schmidt from the Bede Verlag is a very good German one, but there are a lot of good watersnake books in English in the book sortiment.

Much more informations you can get in the field guides of my -books-section- , too.

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