Mississippi Green Watersnake (Mississippi Green Water Snake)
A medium-sized, dark-colored, heavy-bodied snake, the Mississippi green watersnake was once somewhat common in southeastern Missouri. The back is greenish brown with numerous small, obscure olive-brown or dark brown markings. The belly is dark gray with numerous yellow half-moon-shaped markings. Although not venomous, watersnakes bite viciously to defend themselves and also secrete a strong-smelling musk from glands at the base of the tail.
Similar species: A number of other watersnakes live in Missouri's Bootheel. They all have some combination of prominent bands on the back, or a plain yellow belly, or a yellow belly strongly marked with black patches. Watersnakes are often confused with the venomous western cottonmouth and needlessly killed. The true cottonmouth is more heavy-bodied, with a larger, chunky head; has a facial pit between the nostril and eye on either side of the head; is darker; and has a light line from each eye to the corner of the mouth.