Northern Water Snake

The Northern Water Snake, Nerodia sipedon, is a well-known colubrid of North America. They are active equally during day and night and are most often seen basking on rocks, stumps, or brush. Northern Water Snakes often share winter dens with other snakes, such as Copperheads and Black Rat Snakes.

Northern Water Snakes grow over four feet long. They can be brown, gray, reddish, or brownish-black. They have dark cross bands on their necks and dark blotches on the rest of their bodies. Also, the older the snake gets, the darker it gets. An older snake will become black. The belly of this snake also varies in color. It can be white, yellow, or gray. Usually it also has reddish or black crescents.

During the day, these snakes hunt among plants at the water’s edge, looking for small fish, frogs, worms, leeches, crayfish, salamanders, young turtles, and small birds and mammals. At night, they concentrate on minnows and other small fish sleeping in shallow water. They also have many predators, including birds, raccoons, opossums, foxes, snapping turtles, bullfrogs, and other snakes.

Northern Water Snakes mate in April and June. They are live-bearers, which means they do not lay eggs like most snakes. Instead, they carry them inside their bodies and give birth to baby snakes, each one six to twelve inches long. A female may have as many as 30 young at a time. Babies are born between August and October. Mothers do not care for their young; as soon as they are born, they are on their own.

Muskrat houses and Beaver lodges are good places to find water snakes, which like to hide among the sticks and plant stems. They live near lakes, ponds, marshes, streams, rivers, and canals; just about anywhere there is water.