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Mississippi green watersnake

Mississippi green watersnake (Nerodia cyclopion) [state threatened] Photo © Brad M. Glorioso

Features and Behaviors


The Mississippi green watersnake averages 30 to 45 inches in length. A row of scales is present between the eye and the lip scales. The back is green or brown with dim, black crossbars. The belly has light spots on a gray or brown background. Scales are keeled (ridged). The female is larger than the male.


The Mississippi green watersnake lives in cypress swamps and river sloughs. This snake is aquatic but is often seen basking on logs or brush. It is active during the day, hunting for food in late evening. In the hottest summer temperatures, it becomes active at night. It may flatten its body when disturbed and/or release large amounts of bad-smelling musk from glands at the base of the tail. Mating occurs in the spring. Eggs are retained inside the female, where they develop. Young are born alive in August or September, the number of young varying with the age and size of the female snake. This animal eats fishes and amphibians.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Natricidae

Illinois Status: state threatened, native