Southeastern and southcentral United States eastward from Texas through North Carolina. As far south as southern Florida. A separate population exists in Sacramento County, California.
Mostly inhabits areas near water sources including marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, swamps, and rivers. Can even be found near the sea at the edge of saltwater sources like marshes and swamps. Will take shelter in burrows or under vegetative covering.
Dorsum can be yellowish, reddish, or grayish. Displays around 40 crossbands across body that can be either black, brown, or red. Scales are heavily keeled and are elongated under tail. Dark stripes run from corner of eye to end of mouth. Venter is usually light colored and displays dark spots, blotches, or lines. When threatened, issues feces and musk from its cloaca; lies close to the ground and will strike.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians