Northern Water Snake
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Northern Water Snake
Northern Water Snake
Northern Water Snake

Online Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut

Northern Water Snake - Nerodia sipedon sipedon

Description

A medium to large snake measuring 24 to 42 inches (61 to 106 cmm) in length. Scales keeled. Dorsal coloration variable, but usually brownish with darker brown blotches. In many older individuals the pattern is difficult to see and the animal will seem uniform rusty-brown to black in color. Belly grayish with semicircular patterns on each ventral scute. The semicircles can be brown or reddish brown.

 

Reproduction

Live-bearer, with 15 to 30 young born live in late summer.

 

Juveniles

Usually grayish in color with dark brown to black “saddle”-shaped blotches on the back. Belly color pattern similar to adult.

 

Habitat

Near water. Usually found on rock walls, rock ledges or small shrubs near permanent water. Can be found in bogs, farm ponds and rivers.

 

Food

Primarily fish and amphibians, although crayfish may also be eaten.

 

Range

Found throughout the northern half of the eastern United States. Occurs from Colorado east to the Atlantic coast. From Quebec and Ontario south to North Carolina. Probably occurs in every township in Connecticut.

 

Status

Abundant and common throughout Connecticut.

 

Comment

Locally called the “water moccasin” and erroneously believed to be venomous. The species is not venomous, but will defend itself vigorously when cornered or captured. Defense may include defecation, spraying musk, biting repeatedly, and vomiting, but no venom. The species is generally very cautious and to avoid conflict will usually enter water on the approach of a human.

 

References

Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 450 pp.

Klemens, M.W. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.

 

Credits

Text by Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell.
Photographs © Twan Leenders. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Animals featured on this page are from Connecticut.