Can Snakes Bite In The Water

Imagine you’re having a fun day at the lake, splashing and swimming in the cool water. But suddenly, you spot a snake swimming nearby! It makes you wonder, can snakes bite you while they’re in the water? Well, the answer is yes, they can! Snakes have sharp teeth and powerful jaws that let them bite even underwater. So next time you see a snake in the water, remember to keep your distance and stay safe!

Can Snakes Bite In The Water

Characteristics of Aquatic Snakes

Aquatic snakes are a unique group of snakes that have adapted to life in water. They have specific characteristics that allow them to thrive in aquatic environments.

Habitat Preference

Aquatic snakes prefer to live in and around bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, swamps, and even the ocean. They are excellent swimmers and can be found both on the surface of the water and submerged.

Physical Appearance

Aquatic snakes have streamlined bodies that are well-suited for swimming. They are typically slender with muscular bodies and may have flattened tails that help them move through the water more efficiently.

Swimming Techniques

Aquatic snakes use a variety of swimming techniques to navigate through water. They can undulate their bodies from side to side, similar to the motion of a fish’s tail, to propel themselves forward. Some species can also use their flattened tails to paddle and steer through the water.

Food Sources

Aquatic snakes feed mainly on fish, amphibians, and other small aquatic animals. They are skilled hunters and use their speed and stealth to catch their prey underwater.

Reproduction and Lifecycle

Aquatic snakes reproduce by laying eggs, just like other snakes. The female snake will find a suitable nesting site near the water, where she will lay her eggs. The eggs will then hatch, and the young snakes will begin their lives in the water.

Anatomical Adaptations

Valve System for Breathing

One of the important anatomical adaptations found in aquatic snakes is their ability to breathe while submerged. They have a valve system in their nostrils that allows them to close off their airways when underwater. This enables them to hold their breath for extended periods and efficiently extract oxygen from the air.

Waterproof Scales

Aquatic snakes have scales that are specially designed to repel water, just like a raincoat. These waterproof scales help prevent water from penetrating the snake’s skin and keep it dry in the water.

Eyes and Nostrils Placement

The placement of their eyes and nostrils on the top of their head is another adaptation that aquatic snakes have. This unique positioning allows them to see and breathe while submerged, without having to come to the surface.

Adapted Jaw Structure

Aquatic snakes have jaws that can open wide, enabling them to swallow larger prey whole. This adaptation allows them to capture and consume fish and other aquatic animals of various sizes.

Enhanced Sensory Organs

Aquatic snakes have highly developed sensory organs that help them detect prey and navigate through their watery habitat. Their eyesight is excellent both in and out of the water, and they also have specialized sensors called “ampullae of Lorenzini” that can detect electrical signals produced by the movement of their prey.

Can Snakes Bite In The Water

Types of Venomous Aquatic Snakes

Sea Snakes

Sea snakes are a type of venomous aquatic snake that is found in the ocean, particularly in the warm waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They have paddle-like tails that help them swim, and their venom is highly potent.

Coral Snakes

Coral snakes are venomous snakes that are found in certain parts of North and South America. While they are not true aquatic snakes, they can sometimes be found near water sources. They have brightly colored bands on their bodies, which serve as a warning to potential predators.

Water Moccasin (Cottonmouth)

Also known as cottonmouths, water moccasins are venomous snakes that inhabit freshwater environments in North America. They are strong swimmers and can be found in various bodies of water, such as swamps, lakes, and rivers.

Non-Venomous Water Snakes

Common Water Snake

Common water snakes are non-venomous snakes that are commonly found in North America. They are excellent swimmers and can be seen in both freshwater and brackish water habitats.

Northern Water Snake

Similar to the common water snake, the northern water snake is another non-venomous species commonly found in North America. They are adaptable and can live in a variety of aquatic habitats, including ponds, streams, and marshes.

Diamondback Water Snake

The diamondback water snake is a non-venomous snake that can be found in the southeastern United States. They are skilled swimmers and are known for their diamond-shaped markings on their backs.

Can Snakes Bite In The Water

Venomous Water Snakes

Identifying Venomous Species

Identifying venomous water snakes can be crucial for keeping yourself safe. One way to differentiate venomous species from non-venomous ones is by looking at their head shape. Venomous snakes generally have a more triangular-shaped head, while non-venomous snakes have a more rounded head.

Venomous Snakebite Symptoms

If you are bitten by a venomous water snake, it is important to recognize the symptoms of a snakebite. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, redness, and bruising around the bite area. You may also experience nausea, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

First Aid for Venomous Snakebites

If you are bitten by a venomous water snake, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. While waiting for help to arrive, keep the bite site below heart level to slow down the spread of venom. Do not attempt to suck out the venom or apply a tourniquet, as these methods can do more harm than good.

Factors Influencing Snake Behaviour in Water


Water temperature plays a significant role in snake behavior. As ectotherms, snakes rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. Different species have different temperature preferences, which can influence their activity levels in the water.

Food Availability

The availability of food in the water can also influence snake behavior. When prey is abundant, snakes may be more active and spend more time hunting. Conversely, when food is scarce, snakes may become more dormant or travel in search of better feeding grounds.

Predator Avoidance

Snakes in the water may exhibit certain behaviors to avoid predators. They may try to hide in vegetation or underwater structures to remain undetected. Some species may also use their swimming skills to escape from potential threats.

Territorial Defense

Snakes, including aquatic ones, can be territorial creatures. They may defend their preferred areas from other snakes or animals. In water, this can manifest as aggression towards intruders and other snakes that encroach upon their territory.

Breeding Season

Breeding season can also affect snake behavior in water. Male snakes may become more aggressive and territorial as they compete for female attention. Females, on the other hand, may exhibit defensive behaviors when protecting their nests and offspring.

Mating Behaviors

During the mating season, aquatic snakes may engage in specific behaviors to attract mates. These behaviors can include courtship displays, such as elaborate swimming patterns or performing synchronized movements. Mating behavior may also involve territorial defense and competition among males.

Can Snakes Bite In The Water

Reasons Why Snakes May Bite in the Water

Feeling Threatened

Snakes, like any other animal, will defend themselves when they feel threatened. If a snake perceives you as a threat while in the water, it may bite in self-defense.

Protecting Offspring

Female snakes may become aggressive when they are protecting their nests or offspring. If you accidentally come too close to a mother snake and her young, she may view you as a threat and respond by biting.

Defending Territory

Snakes can be territorial creatures and may become aggressive when defending their preferred areas. If you encroach upon their territory in the water, they may bite as a way to protect their space.

Mistaking Humans for Prey or Threats

In some rare cases, aquatic snakes may mistake humans for prey or a potential threat. If a snake confuses a person for food or feels threatened by their presence, it may bite.

Signs of Aggression in Aquatic Snakes

Hissing and Lunging

When an aquatic snake feels threatened or aggressive, it may hiss loudly as a warning. It may also lunge towards the perceived threat in an attempt to scare it away or defend itself.

Body Posturing

Aggressive aquatic snakes may exhibit specific body postures to intimidate threats. This can include coiling their bodies, puffing up their throat, or arching their backs to appear larger and more formidable.

Tail Vibrations

Some aquatic snakes use their tails to communicate aggression. They may vibrate their tails rapidly or slap the water’s surface to create a warning sound, signaling potential danger.

Flattening the Body

When an aquatic snake flattens its body, it appears wider and more intimidating. This behavior is a defensive posture that snakes adopt to make themselves look larger and more threatening.

Biting or Striking

The ultimate sign of aggression in an aquatic snake is when it bites or strikes. When a snake feels threatened and all other warning signs have been ignored, it may resort to biting as a last defense mechanism.

Preventing Snake Bites in Water

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When in or around bodies of water where snakes may be present, it is essential to be aware of your surroundings. Look out for signs of snakes, such as their movement in the water or their presence near the shoreline.

Avoid Provoking or Disturbing Snakes

To prevent snake bites, it is crucial to avoid provoking or disturbing snakes in their natural habitat. Respect their space and keep a safe distance.

Wear Protective Clothing

When spending time in areas where snake encounters are possible, it is advisable to wear protective clothing such as long pants, closed-toe shoes, and gloves. This can help reduce the risk of a snakebite.

Use Caution When Swimming or Wading

If you are swimming or wading in waters where snakes may be present, exercise caution. Watch your step and avoid areas with dense vegetation where snakes may hide.

Educate Yourself and Others

Education is key to preventing snake bites. Learn about the types of snakes that inhabit your local area and share that knowledge with others. Teach children how to identify snakes and what to do if they encounter one.

What to Do if Bitten by a Water Snake

Remain Calm

If you are bitten by a water snake, it is important to stay calm. Panicking can elevate your heart rate, causing the venom to spread more quickly.

Seek Medical Attention

Regardless of whether the snake is venomous or non-venomous, it is recommended to seek medical attention after a snakebite. This is to ensure proper evaluation and treatment.

Keep the Bite Site Below the Heart Level

To slow down the spread of venom, it is advised to keep the bite site below heart level. This can help reduce the venom’s circulation throughout the body.

Do Not Suck Out the Venom

Contrary to popular belief, sucking out the venom with your mouth is not recommended. It is ineffective and can introduce harmful bacteria into the wound.

Do Not Apply a Tourniquet

Applying a tourniquet can restrict blood flow to the bitten area, causing further damage. It is best to allow blood circulation to continue to help flush out the venom.

Take Note of the Snake’s Appearance

If possible, try to remember and note down the snake’s appearance. This can help medical professionals determine the appropriate treatment and antivenom, if necessary.

In conclusion, snakes can bite in the water, both venomous and non-venomous species. Aquatic snakes have adapted to their watery habitats with various anatomical features and behaviors. It is essential to understand and respect these magnificent creatures to prevent snake bites while enjoying water activities. Remember to stay informed, be cautious, and seek immediate medical attention if bitten by a water snake.