Common Brown Watersnake

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Is the Common Brown Watersnake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Common Brown Water Snake

Scientific name: Lycodonomorphus rufulus

The basics:
The Common Brown Watersnake can make a fine pet, and is in need of captive breeding efforts. Its somber coloration seems to deter some folks, but it quite interesting and makes a great introduction to the keeping of semi-aquatic species.

The Common Brown Watersnake is found in Southern Africa, from Mozambique and Botswana to South Africa, where it is at home in swamps, river margins, canals and ponds.

Appearance / health:
The stoutly-built Common Brown Watersnake averages 60-90 cm (24-36 in) in length. It is brown or olive in color above, and pink to off-white below.

When given proper care, it is quite hardy. Fungal skin infections are common in overly-damp terrariums.

Behavior / temperament:
Common Brown Watersnakes vary in temperament, although long term pets generally take well to careful handling. When stressed, they will not hesitate to bite and release copious amounts of musk.

An average adult can be kept in a 55 - 75 gallon aquarium. Cypress mulch, eucalyptus bark and similar materials are preferable to newspapers as substrates. Despite their aquatic tendencies, watersnakes quickly develop fungal skin disorders if kept on damp substrates. A large water bowl, filled to a point where it will not overflow when the snake enters, will suit their needs. A dry shelter and should be provided, and stout branches positioned below a heat bulb serve well as basking sites. Ambient temperature: 78-82 F; Basking temperature: 90-95 F.

Common Brown Watersnakes feed on fishes, frogs, tadpoles, and rodents. Pets do well on a diet comprised solely of minnows and shiners, and should also be offered tilapia, perch and others on occasion. Most feed ravenously, and do best on 2-3 weekly meals.

Wild females produce 6-25 eggs; captive breeding has not been well documented.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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