Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake               Nerodia sipedon

Type of Animal:

Rivers, ponds, lakes, banks of lakes/rivers/streams, beaver/muskrat dens, marshes (freshwater & brackish), canals, bogs, swamps, streams, impoundments, riparian areas, prefer still/slow-moving water, creeks (freshwater & tidal), ditches, vernal pools, grassland, forests, bodies of freshwater in mountains, salt marshes

Found throughout E & C N. America, from S. Ontario, S. Quebec & New England in north to Florida panhandle in south & as far W as E Colorado. Invasive in California.

Brown, gray, reddish, or brownish-black, dark crossband on neck, dark stripes/blotches on rest of body, often mistaken for venomous cottonmouths and/or copperheads, darken w/ age, belly white, yellow, or gray often w/ reddish or black crescents

Fish (especially minnows, shiner, chub, gobies, mosquitofish, trout, sunfish, bluegill, bass, catfish, perch, & hogsucker but many others too), amphibians, crayfish, leeches, worms, small mammals, birds up to size of small ducks, turtles, carrion, insects, other snakes, baby alligators

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, nature centers, & aquariums

Solitary or small groups

Additional Info:


Male-2.85-5.33 oz
Female-5.61-14.39 oz
Young-1 oz

3-5 months 

Life Span:
8-9 years

Body Length:
Male-2.3 ft
Female-2.8 ft
Young-1 ft

Tail Length:
2.7 in

Main predators are adults are alligators, snapping turtles, bobcats, wolves, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, opossums, other snakes, birds (especially raptors, corvids, wading birds, & cormorants but other birds as well), otters, bullfrogs, & skunks. Smaller birds, like robins, prey on young.

They often hibernate in winter w/ copperheads & black rat snakes (latter being a major predator, copperheads eat young).

Breeding season is from April-June, & young are usually born from July-October.

They simply swallow their prey alive.

Can remain submerged for an hour & a half.

Males sexually mature at 1 year, 9 months. Females sexually mature at 3 years old.

Fun Fact(s):
They’ll sometimes regurgitate their last meal if agitated.

Often killed due to being mistaken for venomous cottonmouths and/or copperheads.

These snakes defend themselves by biting repeatedly, as well as pooping & releasing musk.

While not venomous, saliva has mild anticoagulant.

They are ovoviviparous, in which eggs hatch in body of mom, & the birth is of live young (usually 8-30).

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