ANIMAL: Northern Water Snake Nerodia sipedon Type of Animal: Colubrid Habitat: 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 Location(s): 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. Appearance: 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 Food/Diet: 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: Stable Conservation: Breeding in zoos, nature centers, & aquariums Lifestyle: Solitary or small groups Additional Info: Called: Male Female Young-Snakelet Group-Den Weight: Male-2.85-5.33 oz Female-5.61-14.39 oz Young-1 oz Gestation: 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).