Gray or brownish body with dark or faint chessboard pattern; lighter belly with dice-like, dark patterns; head slightly wider than the neck; yellow eyes with round, black pupils. Non-venomous.
Aquatic, spends most of its time foraging in water and dives under water when threatened. Hisses if caught, feigns death, bleeds from mouth, and excretes a foul smell. Occasionally basks in the sun. Mates in large groups in spring.
Feeds on fish and amphibians.
Common around permanent freshwater sources in northwestern and western Jordan, including the Jordan River Valley, Zarqa River, Amman, and Wadi Mujib. Rare in Azraq and some regions in southwestern Jordan.