The Diamondback Water Snake: All You Need To Know

Diamondback water snake is an aquatic snake that is found in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America. These snakes are very large, with adults averaging 3-4 feet but occasionally reaching lengths of more than 8 feet.

They are non-venomous, with a diet consisting of fish, frogs, birds, and even other snakes. They are found in a variety of habitats, including swamps, rice fields, streams, and ponds.

The name “diamondback” comes from the markings on their back that are shaped like diamonds.

What is a Diamondback Water Snake?

When a Diamondback Water Snake bites, it strikes, rears its rear, and then lashes out with a series of powerful rear fangs, injecting a fluid which contains chitin-like bits of its prey with venom.

This causes the victim’s tongue to tingle, sometimes to the point of making it go numb, and causes the victim to appear as though they are having a mild allergic reaction to some chemicals in the snake’s saliva.

Diamondback Water Snakes have been known to strike snakes, raccoons, frogs, toads, mice, dogs, small birds, lizards, and small snakes.

Do all Diamondback Water Snakes Have Diamonds On Their Tail?

No. The “rodent-like” rattlesnake shape is used by many species of snakes in order to trick prey into swallowing and digesting them, and thus to prevent them from breathing their own venom.

The Diamondback Water Snake

Where does the Diamondback Water Snake live?

The diamondback water snake can be found in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Distribution

The diamondback water snake is mainly found in the southern Great Plains of the United States and northern Mexico. The Diamondback Water Snake is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN.

Behavior

Baird’s Diamondback Water Snake

The Diamondback Water Snake prefers flat, freshwater, quiet places. Water temperatures in Texas range from 80–100 °F (26–36 °C) with an average temperature of 73–74 °F (23–24 °C).

Stages of the attack

First, the snake becomes acclimated to their environment by hiding under stones or other items, in which they have found a hiding spot. It waits for prey.

What does a Diamondback Water Snake eat?

N. rhombifer is not venomous and feeds primarily on frogs and small rodents. They will also consume insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, and flies.

How long can Diamondback Water Snakes live?

The Diamondback Water Snakes live an average of 10 to 15 years in the wild. They can be captive-bred and should be kept in captivity for about three years.

How are the Diamondback Water Snakes spotted?

It is extremely rare to come across a Diamondback Water Snake in the wild but when you do, they are most likely to be found near large bodies of water, streams, or other bodies of standing water where they can swim or even sit on the surface.

What is a Diamondback water snake’s mating ritual like?

The male N. rhombifer completes several rituals to attract the female. During the initial approach, the male and female become unaware of each other by passing each other with no physical contact.

The male will then return to where he picked up his initial scent of the female. He makes this approach by tapping his tail along the sand of a riverbank.

The female snake will usually use this as a distraction as the male will coil around her and flick his tail at her.

The female water snake is wary of this behavior and will attempt to escape the male snake’s clawed forepaws. When she is in distress, she may raise and open her hood, appear dark brown in color, and develop a swollen, pointed head.

The male snake usually releases his grip, but he will continue to attempt to locate her.

How do you know if you have found a diamond back water snake?

You’ll find these snakes in two general areas; one is along the banks of rivers, swamps, and streams where they are often found basking and sunning on the river bottoms.

The other is along the bottoms of lakes and streams where they bask on the ground in trees and shrubs, or shelter in rock piles.

They are active during the day and their diet is broad and includes fish, crayfish, frogs, tadpoles, and other waterborne animals.

What does a diamondback water snake look like?

The most common adult diamondback water snake is the diamondback. Their most common color is a uniform, glossy brown, with dark brown stripes or blotches and a dark green or black head and neck. They can range in size from 13 to 20 inches long.

Species and Habitat

Nerodia rhombifer is a highly aquatic and nonvenomous snake, and lives in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. It has some similarities to the garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) but it is not a part of that species’ biological range. It is mainly an estuary dwelling species.

Female R. rhombifer have a total length (including tail) between 30 and 40 inches, whereas males measure around 27-35 inches. The average adult male size is about 40 inches. The average adult female size is 35 inches.

Subspecies

There are currently two recognized subspecies of N. rhombifer. The nominate subspecies is the southern diamondback, and the northern diamondback subspecies is the timber rattlesnake.

Appearance

As the name implies, the diamondback is characterized by a diamond-like pattern in its patterned patterning that runs from behind its head down its neck to its tail.

The belly and tail are patterned similarly. It can vary in color from tan to light brown and black.

Size

The average adult diamondback can grow to a length of approximately 8 inches, but may grow up to 16 inches in their large adult form.

There is also a population of mature 17-inch snakes in the San Diego Zoo’s Reptile House and the male specimen is exhibited in their laboratory with a 33-inch tail. The average size of a 5-year-old diamondback is 5 inches.

Habitat

A diamondback can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, streams and rivers, grasslands, and suburban areas with muddy substrates.

Diet and Feeding

Although the diamondback is a powerful and highly capable snake, it is primarily a scavenger, and only seldom will it threaten humans or domestic animals.

The diamondback is a nocturnal creature. It is an excellent swimmer and prefers living in the marsh or the shallow sub-watersheds of a river.

Although it has a wide range of habitats throughout the central and southern United States, it prefers living in the swamps of the southeastern U.S. in areas with a good water flow, vegetation cover, abundant food sources and a suitable climate.

N. rhombifer has a rounded head and a narrow neck. Its eyes are on the sides of its head and its nostrils are on the top. Its small mouth is fitted with terminal canine teeth. It has a small esophagus and tiny bladder.

Reproduction and Lifecycle

Like other colubrids, N. rhombifer mates in the water, often in a cave or other secure place that is hard to breach.

The male first determines whether the female is receptive by placing his tail over his genitals, then sliding the tip along her belly and dipping it into the water to determine if she has eggs to retrieve.

If the male feels a response, he raises the tail higher and wiggles it so the female can drink. If she is receptive and still lacks eggs, he then swims over to her and slides the end of his tail inside her, using the flexible skin between the gill slits to hold on.

The male transfers sperm into the female’s cloaca, depositing it in a small sac on her ventral surface. The female may lay 50 to 200 eggs at a time, depending on food sources and other factors.

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