Be Sure to Look Up in the Trees!

While kayaking last week, I encountered quite a few Diamondback Water Snakes (Nerodia rhombifera rhombifera) swimming about. These snakes are not venomous, but will bite viciously to defend themselves. They grow to 30″-48″ in length and are most commonly found along river sloughs, oxbow lakes and swamps. Their name is derived from the light areas along the snake’s back, which may be shaped like diamonds; from the side, it has vertical dark bands that run from the belly area to the back.

As I sit in the kayak, it is not uncommon to have one swim towards the kayak to check me out. However, if I move (and I do before one reaches me!) they will usually “tuck tail and run”. The other day, I saw one swimming in my direction as I sat just off one of the location’s various islands. As it got closer, it veered off around me and headed to the island. Watching it, I saw it began to climb one of the small shrub-like trees on the island and before long it was nestled in a branch fork of the tree:

Diamondback Water Snake in tree, watching me

Diamondback Water Snake in Tree

And here is another Diamondback, lying on the edge of one of the various small islands, preparing to swim out into the water:

Diamondback Water Snake on shoreline

So, if you venture out in a canoe or kayak … be sure to look up in the trees before floating beneath them!

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