SREL Reprint #1988






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.
We thank J. W. Gibbons and J. A. Weis for reviewing the manuscript. This research was supported by contract DE-AC0976SROO819 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.

SREL Reprint #1988

Mills, M.S. and C.J. Hudson. 1995. Nerodia taxispilota (brown water snake) diet. Herpetological Review 26:149.

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