The Mississippi green water snake.

The Most Snake Infested Lakes in Arkansas

Arkansas is a state home to over 40 species of snake, including Eastern US and Southern US species. Summertime is the time of year when the snakes are most seen in Arkansas. When traveling through the state, one place you might not expect to see snakes is in the water. However, there are water snakes and semi-aquatic snakes in Arkansas. Some lakes have lots of these snakes. Here, we will explore the most snake-infested lakes in Arkansas and what water snakes are in the state.

Identifying Water Snakes

The northern water snake.
The northern water snake.

In Arkansas, there are five native species of water snakes. A water snake is any snake that falls under the genus Nerodia. This genus of snakes is usually harmless to humans. The water snake species in Arkansas include the Northern water snake, Plainbelly water snake, Mississippi green water snake, Diamondback water snake, and the Banded water snake. 

Water snakes have some common characteristics to help you identify them. Typically, they have a long, slender body with keeled scales. This allows them to move smoothly through the water. They also have a flattened head and a narrow neck. Another unique feature of water snakes is the round pupils located on the side of their heads. This gives them excellent eyesight by expanding their field of vision and allowing them to be extra sensitive to movement in the water. Water snakes also have nostrils on the top of their head. This way, they can still breathe while they are partly under the water. 

Semi-Aquatic Species

Juvenile cottonmouth snake, venomous and known for its aggressive behavior.

Juvenile cottonmouth snake, venomous and known for its aggressive behavior.

Besides water snakes, there are other species of snake found in and near the Arkansas lakes. These species are semi-aquatic. Semi-aquatic snakes are different from water snakes because of their physical features, behavior, and venom potency. Water snakes are nonvenomous and have elongated bodies with round heads. On the other hand, snakes such as Cottonmouths are venomous pit vipers with triangular heads and a stout body. 

Semi-Aquatic snakes in Arkansas include the Common garter snake, Northern cottonmouth, Western ribbon snake, Crayfish snake, Graham's crayfish snake, Queen snake, Western rat snake, Rough green snake, and the Eastern racer snake.  The three most snake-infested lakes in Arkansas include Lake Ouachita, Lake Fayetteville, and Greers Ferry Lake.

Lake Ouachita

Red-bellied black snake with reflection in water.

Red-bellied black snake with reflection in water.

Lake Ouachita is Arkansas's largest lake, covering 700 miles of shoreline and 65000 acres of water. The lake crosses two counties, Garland and Montgomery. The lake is home to an abundance of wildlife, from largemouth bass to catfish. This makes it the perfect spot for anglers. However, humans aren't the only ones who discovered the lake is a great fishing spot; the fish draw in water snakes. 

Some of the most common snakes found in the lake are the northern and plain belly water snakes. Around the lake is Ouachita National Forest, a popular spot for camping, hiking, and fishing. This is also a popular spot to see semi-aquatic snakes, including some venomous snakes. Cottonmouth and rattlesnake sightings are relatively common in this area. Cottonmouth snakes are one of the most semi-aquatic snakes in the entire United States. They usually feed on fish and have a brown, gray, and black color. 

Lake Fayetteville

A beautiful closeup of a western diamondback rattlesnake on a ground.
A closeup of a western diamondback rattlesnake on the ground.

Lake Fayetteville is smaller than Lake Ouachita. However, the waters are still snake-infested. Covering 200 acres of water and 450 acres of land, the lake is home to several snake species, including both water and semi-aquatic snakes. Water snakes enjoy the lake's abundance of bass, carp, bluegill, and catfish. The bountiful fish in the lake also draws in tourists for fishing. If you are visiting the lake for a fishing trip, keep in mind it is likely you will encounter a snake. Snake encounters are frequently reported in the area. Near the lake, there is a beautiful park that is home to another species, rattlesnakes. Species such as the diamondback and pygmy rattlesnakes are sometimes spotted on the trails around the lake. 

Greers Ferry Lake

The rough green snake basking in the sun.
The rough green snake basking in the sun.

Greers Ferry Lake is another Arkansas Lake filled with snakes. Developed in 1962, the lake has two large bodies of water connected with a narrow gorge. The entire lake covers 40,000 acres, and around the lake, there are popular campsites and hikes for outdoor recreationists. Visitors enjoying the lake should be aware of the snakes in the area. The vibrantly colored rough green snake is a common sighting in the area. These snakes aren't threatening to humans and are nonvenomous. Other commonly sighted snakes in the area include the diamondback water snake, which is another non-venomous snake. 

Safety and Adventure: Navigating Arkansas's Snake-Infested Lakes

Water snakes and semi-aquatic snakes enjoy the lakes in Arkansas. In particular, Greers Ferry Lake, Lake Ouachita, and Lake Fayetteville are popular spots for snakes. Despite the abundance of snakes, these Arkansas spots are still worth a visit. For outdoor enthusiasts, these lakes offer many activities to enjoy, from camping and hiking to fishing and kayaking. Visiting these spots is comforting because water snakes are usually harmless to humans. While semi-aquatic snakes can be venomous, identifying them can help you stay safe in snake territory.


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