Lycodonomorphus laevissimus – Dusky bellied Water Snake
Averaging 70-90cm and may reach 120cm.
The dorsal is typically a uniform brown to jet black. Along the side is a pale yellow to orange that extends to the belly. The ventral scales have a black band that runs down the length of the snake until the vent, the band then becomes a series of black blotches and yellow-orange on the tail.
These snakes favour damp localities around rivers, streams and dams associated with rocky banks and stones.
A powerful swimmer and is the most aquatic snake in South Africa and can often be found beneath rocks and stones submerged in water. They will actively hunt small fish and frogs in water and will constrict and may even feed on these whilst submerged. They have relatively small eyes which are more towards the top of the head than the sides like most snakes. They will not hesitate to musk and bite when handled and large specimens can leave quite impressive wounds although mostly superficial. There are now several records of these snakes in the Vaal river which appear to be to an isolated population from animals perhaps pushed down stream from other localities.