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How to Identify the Copperbelly Water Snake

There are many telltale signs you can use to identify the copperbelly water snake, a rare and striking sight,.


  • TIP: Copperbellies are commonly found in southern Michigan, northwestern Ohio, northeastern and southern Indiana, southeastern Illinois, and western Kentucky.
  • Step 1: See what the snake eats. The copperbelly water snake's diet comprises frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, and small fish.
  • Step 2: Watch the snake's behavior. Copperbellies are active and aggressive snakes, and, while not venomous, vent a foul-smelling musk, like a skunk, when they feel threatened. An endangered species, copperbellies are rare, so count your blessings if you see one!
  • FACT: The average litter size for a copperbelly is 18 snakes.
  • Step 3: Observe the snake's habitat. Copperbelly water snakes can be found in lowland swamps and other warm, quiet waters in warmer months, migrating to upland woods for hibernation.
  • Step 4: Notice the snake's size. Copperbellies can grow very large, reaching an adult length of 40 to 50 inches.
  • TIP: The dark color of their backs can reach far down onto their bellies, but never far enough to form half-moon crescents.
  • Step 5: Note the color of the snake's belly. Typically, the copperbelly has an orange to reddish belly, but can also have a belly of a yellowish color. The color of the snake's belly extends to cover the length of the belly, up to the chin.
  • Step 6: Consider the snake's age. Young copperbellies often resemble other water snakes with a blotchy, banded pattern on their backs.
  • Step 7: Notice the back of the snake. Copperbellies are dark brown to black on their backs. The color on their backs often bleeds down to their bellies in finger-like extensions.

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