Redbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster) at Mason Farm, Chapel Hill, NC
One evening this April, I visited Mason Farm with my dear friend gumby. As we started hiking down the grassy path, I commented on how Mason Farm was always a lucky place to find snakes, especially brown snakes, rough green snakes, and rat snakes.
We were lucky to add another species to that list: redbelly water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster). This juvenile rested in the middle of the path in a grassy field adjacent to wetland habitat. I've yet to find a red-bellied water snake in the water, or even on a log sticking out of the water. I often find them sunning themselves in an open grassy area, near but relatively removed from water.
Redbelly water snakes have been observed at Mason Farm before, but there is still something exciting about seeing a species at the edge of its range. In North Carolina, redbelly water snakes are more abundant in the Coastal Plain, and their distribution only sneaks into the eastern Piedmont counties: Richmond, Lee, Moore, Wake, Chatham, Orange, and possibly Anson.