Northern Water Snake

Genus:  Nerodia
Species:  sipedon

Northern Water Snake

Description: Northern water snakes are some of the most common water snakes in the country. They can vary greatly in appearance from gray, tan, buff or brown in color. The adults have dark bands and are often mistaken for copperheads or cottonmouths but are not venomous. They tend to flatten when agitated and will bite, so watch them from a distance. They can often be seen basking on rocks. The juveniles are often more brightly colored.

Size: Adults are between 2 and 4 ½ Feet long (Most are about 3 ½ feet long)

Diet: They feed heavily on fish and amphibians- swallowing the prey alive. They have been known to eat a number of fish species such as brook trout, sunfish, smallmouth bass, minnows, bullhead catfish, hogsucker and more. They have also been recorded eating northern cricket frogs, toads, southern leopard frogs, tadpoles of bullfrogs, spring peepers and more.

Typical Lifespan: 9 years in captivity – unknown in the wild

Habitat: Northern Water Snakes are found in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, such as ponds, creeks (tidal and freshwater), rivers, ditches, swamps, marshes (both brackish and freshwater) and any wet area where their prey can be found.

Range: Northern water snakes like slow moving or standing water where there are nearby places to bask in the sun, such as ponds, vernal pools and lakes. Look for northern water snakes throughout the eastern half of the United States, especially in the Northeast and Midwest.

Life History and Reproduction: These snakes bear live young --having anywhere between a 12 and 36 at a time.

Fun Fact: An individual northern water snake may look different in water than on land. As the scales dry, the colors appear more uniform and it can be harder to see the bands of color.

Conservation Status: This species is secure but is faces habitat loss and they are occasionally killed because they are mistaken for “water moccasins”.

Additional Resources, and Sources.

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