Northern Water Snake

This species occurs from New England and the Great Lakes through the central United States and south to the Mississippi Delta. Its range also extends down the Atlantic coast as far south as the Carolinas. The northern water snake is found in all freshwater habitats, from swamps to rivers, as well as in the salt marshes of the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Water snakes are a common sight, since they are active both day and night. They are often observed basking on sand banks and tree stumps, and in other open areas. By night, they may be seen feeding on minnows and other small fish in shallow pools.

The body of the northern water snake is patterned in dark grey and reddish brown, with bands crossing behind the neck. When out of water, the pattern often fades as the snake's skin dries.

Water snakes will bite if cornered, and their saliva contains an anticoagulant. When the saliva enters a bite wound, it prevents the blood from clotting properly, thus weakening the victim.

Distribution: New England to Colorado and Louisiana.

Habitat: Rivers and wetlands.

Food: Small fish, young turtles, salamanders and crustaceans.

Size: 56 - 134 cm (22 - 53 in).

Maturity: 2 - 3 years.

Breeding: Mating occurs in early summer.

Life span: 10 years.

Status: Common.

Gallery of Northern Water Snake