Brazos River Water Snake Control (Nerodia harteri)

Many water snakes are actually harmless, despite the fears raised by the cottonmouth or water moccasin. Brazos River water snakes are one of those harmless-to-humans nonvenomous water snakes. And while you probably don’t want to go around chasing them down and picking them up, they are a valuable part of the ecosystem. If you suspect that you have these snakes on your property, here’s how to identify them and how to deal with their presence. We suggest that you have a snake removal professional found here to handle these problems

Brazos River Water Snake Identification and Behavior

The Brazos River water snake is found in north-central Texas along the Brazos River and its reservoirs. Since it’s found in such a limited area, it is listed as Threatened. It’s a slender snake, reaching just 16 to 32 inches long, and ranges in color from brown to olive green. It has two rows of spots that go down either side of its back, and has a pink or orange underside with dark spots down either side.
This snake inhabits fast-flowing rocky streams and their margins, particularly shallow spots and where flat, unshaded and unsilted rocks are at or close to the water's edge, where it hunts for small fish. During the summer, they’re active in the morning and evening, using woody vegetation and flood debris along stream banks for basking and cover.

Distinguishing Brazos River Water Snakes from Cottonmouths / Water Moccasins

The easiest way to distinguish nonvenomous water snakes (Nerodia spp.) from cottonmouths or water moccasins is by their behavior when approached. Water snakes almost always flee quickly into the water when threatened, while cottonmouths often will stand their ground and perform their threat display, which includes vibrating its tail and throwing its head back with its mouth opened to show the startling white interior, hissing and pulling the upper body into an S-shape. Other threat display behaviors include flattening its body, and emitting a foul-smelling substance from the base of its tail. Water snakes are not always wallflowers, however. When picked up, they readily and repeatedly bite, and while they’re nonvenomous, they have a lot of teeth and their bites can be painful.
Another way to distinguish harmless water snakes from cottonmouths is by looking at their eyes; water snakes have round pupils, while cottonmouths have vertical, cat-like pupils. When swimming or crawling, another distinguishing characteristic is that cottonmouths will hold their heads up high, at an angle of about 45 degrees, while watersnakes will keep their heads more or less level with the water or ground.
Here’s an excerpt from an excellent guide published by the Georgia DNR:
· Water moccasins, or "cottonmouths," are relatively short and wide. Water snakes are longer and more slender.
· Water moccasins bask on land, or on logs and stumps near water surface; water snakes are good climbers and spend a lot of time basking on branches hanging over water.
· Water moccasins move slowly and defend their territory while water snakes move quickly away from disturbances.
· When swimming, cottonmouths keep their heads elevated above the water and bodies riding nearly on the water surface. Water snakes keep their head and body low and below the water surface.
· Cottonmouths always cock their heads at a 45 degree angle on land. Water snakes keep their heads level with the ground.

Brazos Water Snake Control and Exclusion

Repellents, whether ultrasonic, scent-based or flavor-based, are universally ineffective. Inexpertly placed glue traps can catch and injure non-target animals, leaving you to deal with the problem of freeing those animals without getting injured yourself.
Since this snake is listed as Threatened in Texas, great care must be taken when considering trapping or removal of the animals from an area. If their numbers become too abundant, a call to a professional snake control company familiar with state regulations is in order.
To keep water snakes out of your home or building, here are some effective measures to take:
· Structural gaps and crevices larger than 1/4 inch and within three feet of grade should be closed off; snakes can pass through very small openings.
· Screens on crawlspace vents should have mesh smaller than 1/4 inch.
· A thorough search should be made for cracks in the foundation, unscreened crawlspace vents, torn screens, and gaps around basement window frames.
· Check clearances under doors; seal any gaps with weather stripping.
· Look for improper sealing where plumbing and utility lines penetrate the foundation of the building.
If you need to reduce water snake populations on your property, it is best to call in an experienced professional in water snake trapping and removal. They can help you deal with water snakes quickly and efficiently, leaving you to enjoy the outdoors in peace with the Brazos River Water Snake.

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