|SREL Reprint #1988|
NERODIA TAXISPILOTA (Brown Water Snake). DIET.
Mark S. Mills and Chris J. Hudson
Department of Zoology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA, and Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802, USA
Nerodia taxispilota feed almost exclusively on fish, primarily catfish (Ictaluridae)
(Camp et al. 1980. J. Herpetol. 14:301-304; Ernst and Barbour 1989. Snakes of
Eastern North America. George Mason Univ. Press, Fairfax, Virginia, 282 pp.).
Food items were collected as part of a long-term study on the natural history of N.
taxispilota in the Savannah River adjacent to the Savannah River Site (SRS),
Aiken and Barnwell counties, South Carolina, and Burke Co., Georgia (for exact
location, see Gibbons and Semlitsch 1991. Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians
of the Savannah River Site. Univ. of Georgia Press, Athens, 131 pp.). Here we
report two genera of fishes (Lepisosteus and Morone) not previously reported in
the diet of N. taxispilota. On 18 June 1993 we captured a male snake (53 cm
SVL) that was forced to regurgitate a partially digested gar (Lepisosteus; 14.2
cm standard length; 27% of the SVL of the snake). We also identified five fish of
the family Moronidae (formerly Percichthyidae: temperate bass) from five snakes
(date collected, sex, SVL in cm): 26 August 199 1, F, 39.7; 30 August 199 1, F,
40.8; 13 August 1992, F, 36.0; 18 August 1992, M, 34.5; 26 August 1992, M,
34.9. Two species of gar (Lepisosteus osseus and L. platyrhincus) and two
species of temperate bass (Morone saxatilis and M. chrysops) inhabit the
Savannah River near the SRS, but L. platyrhincus and M. chrysops are rare in
this area (Bennett and McFarlane 1983. The Fishes of the Savannah River Plant:
National Environmental Research Park. Savannah River Ecol. Lab., Nat. Environ.
Res. Park Program, U.S. Dept. Energy, SRO-NERP-12, 152 pp.). These
records are of interest because N. taxispilota typically feed on bottom-dwelling
fishes while striped bass and gar are mid-to top-water fishes.
SREL Reprint #1988
Mills, M.S. and C.J. Hudson. 1995. Nerodia taxispilota (brown water snake) diet. Herpetological Review 26:149.