Northern Water Snake Care Sheet | Reptiles' Cove (2022)

Table of Contents
Scientific Facts Physical Description Natural History Systematics Northern Water Snakes Subspecies Lake Erie Water Snake (Nerodia Sipedon Insularum) Carolina Water Snake (Nerodia Sipedon Williamengelsi) Midland Water Snake (Nerodia Sipedon Pleuralis) Northern Water Snake (Nerodia Sipedon Sipedon) Similar Species Distribution Sizes Colors and Patterns Habitat Life Cycle and Lifespan Behavior Diet Reproduction Brumation Development and Reproduction Possible Danger to Humans Reputation – Aquatic Predators Activities During Summer Conservation and Threats Predators Northern Water Snakes and Ecology Fun Facts about Northern Water Snakes Other Notes about Northern Water Snakes Where to Get One? How to Care for Northern Water Snake as Pet FAQ Section Are Northern Water Snakes Dangerous? Do Northern Water Snakes bite? How do you identify a Northern Water Snake? Are Northern Water Snakes aggressive? Are Northern Water Snakes Protected? Do Northern Water Snakes lay eggs? How long do Northern Water Snakes live? How big can Northern Water Snakes get? What do Northern Water Snakes look like? Where do Northern Water Snakes live? What type of habitat do Northern Water Snakes need? How do Northern Water Snakes reproduce? How do Northern Water Snakes behave? Can Northern Water Snakes communicate with each other? What do Northern Water Snakes eat? How do Northern Water Snakes avoid their predators? What is the role of Northern Water Snakes in the ecosystem? Do Northern Water Snakes cause problems? How do Northern Water Snakes interact with humans? FAQs Videos

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Northern Water Snake
Scientific Name:Nerodia Sipedon
Life Span:Up to 9 years
Mass:158.9 g to 408 g (Females), 80.8 to 151 g (Males)
Length:Up to 140 cm
Clutch Size:Average of 8 per litter
Habitat:Aquatic Habitats (Lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, marshes, canals, ditches)
Country of Origin:United States

Physical Description

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The Northern Water Snake is considered among the largest snakes present in North America. The largest ones can even grow up to four and a half feet in length. These snakes usually have a heavy body with a large head. This means an equal proportion between the body and the head of the snake.

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They are usually found in different colors, though the majority feature bands of black, brown and dark green, even though they may also have a reddish or sandy color on their bodies. As these snakes grow older, their color also tends to darken. The older Northern water snakes usually have a body that is almost completely black.

The back and sides of their bodies feature a series of square blotches that alternate with each other. These blotches then merge to create bands. The adult snakes may appear black or solid brown, most especially when dry. The belly of these snakes is usually white, orangish or yellowish, with some dark half-moon-shaped black edges. The young ones have reddish-brown saddles on a brown, tan, or gray background. In terms of size, the males are usually smaller compared to females.

Northern water snakes are also described as being heterothermic, which means that they love basking under the sun in order to regulate their body temperature.

Natural History

As these snakes live by the water, they live up to their common name. They prefer the water, but will also transport themselves or hunt in fast-moving creeks. They love using muskrat homes, beaver lodges, and brush, both living plants and dead piles along the water.

They also love using man-made structures, including waterside structures such as bridge supports, docks, causeways, rock dams, and spillways. When they are disturbed, these water snakes dive into the water quickly, submerging for a few minutes before they resurface to check on what is happening, and seeing the danger. If they still feel threatened, they will dive down again and stay beneath for a long time.

Systematics

This snake was originally described by Carolus Linnaeus as Coluber Sipedon back in 1758. It was based on a certain specimen which was sent to him from North America, by a certain Pehr Kalm. In 1953, Schmidt restricted the type of locality to the vicinity surrounding New York City.

In 1977, Rossman and Eberle changed the generic name of this snake from Natrix to Nerodia. Until that year, most authors of literature in Virginia used the genus Natrix for these snakes. However, in 1900, Cope included Sipedon as a subspecies of N. Fasciata. Authors that followed have used this present nomenclature. Under this species, four subspecies have been identified.

Northern Water Snakes Subspecies

There are generally four subspecies of Northern Water Snakes that are recognized currently:

Lake Erie Water Snake (Nerodia Sipedon Insularum)

These species are usually found on a group of islands located in Western Lake Erie, as well as the Marblehead peninsula in the state of Ohio. This subspecies is once threatened but is now thriving in its habitat. It is characterized in a soft gray color with some partial band patterns. This snake is medium in size, with females that reach up to 3.5 feet, or 1 meter in length.

Carolina Water Snake (Nerodia Sipedon Williamengelsi)

This subspecies is usually found in North Carolina, especially in both the mainland coast of the Pamlico and the Core sounds counties and the Outer Banks Islands.

Midland Water Snake (Nerodia Sipedon Pleuralis)

This subspecies is typically found in Northern South Carolina and Georgia, through Eastern Louisiana, Alabama, Illinois, and Southern Indiana, and to the Eastern part of Oklahoma.

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Northern Water Snake (Nerodia Sipedon Sipedon)

These snakes are usually found in the Northern Maine and North Carolina, Northern Indiana, Illinois, West to Central Tennessee, West to Eastern Colorado, Minnesota, Ontario, and Quebec, Canada.

Similar Species

Northern Water Snakes are usually mistaken with other species of water snakes, including the broad-banded water snake, and cottonmouth water snakes. Broad-banded water snakes have crossbands that run through their entire body, with a light and black line that runs from the corner of the eye in a diagonal direction right to the corner of its mouth.

On the other hand, cottonmouth water snakes are naturally darker, with a heavier body and a facial pit that is located in between their eyes and nostrils.

Distribution

Northern Water Snakes are usually found in different states within the United States. They are often considered as among the most frequently encountered snakes nearby the water in the state. Even though they are quite abundant along wetlands and rivers, they adapt well to man-made environments, readily colonizing small ponds and lakes. They also love utilizing concrete and rip-rap structures.

These water snakes are distributed in the northern half of the country, while another subspecies, the Midland water snakes are distributed across the southern half. There are many animals in the mid-state that appear to be intermediate in between these subspecies.

Sizes

Northern Water Snakes usually range from 244 to 55 inches (61 to 140 cm) in size.

Colors and Patterns

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The dorsum of the body and tail come with several closely spaced, complete, and dark crossbands anteriorly which break up at around the mid-body, creating a series of alternating, rectangular, and lateral blotches. These blotches alternate in contact or separated by a single scale.

The body color varies from brown to gray, with a variety of yellow, red, or white amounts of dorsal blotches and crossbands varying from reddish-brown to solid black, with black borders. Two irregular rows of dark half-moons are also present on the ventral scales, with half-moons varying from reddish and tan to all black in the center with some black borders.

Habitat

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These water snakes are usually found throughout the eastern half of the United States, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast. They also love a wide variety of aquatic habitats. They are also often seen basking beneath rocks, and love slow-moving or standing water nearby areas where they can also bask under the sun, including vernal pools, ponds, and lakes. Beaver lodges and muskrat houses are also good places to locate the Northern Water Snakes, as they love hiding among the plant stems and sticks.

Life Cycle and Lifespan

Northern water snakes usually mate right after coming out of brumation, typically from late March to April. The female snakes give birth between late August and the earlier part of October to live young. They usually have 12 to 36 young snakes at a time. Their lifespan is usually nine years in captivity. In the wild, their lifespan is unknown.

Behavior

Northern Watersnakes are usually active at daytime and nighttime. They are usually seen basking beneath rocks, brush or stumps. At daytime, these snakes hunt among plants at the edge of the water, searching for small fish, worms, frogs, crayfish, leeches, small birds, salamanders, and mammals.

At nighttime, they concentrate on minnows, as well as other small fish that are relaxing in shallow water. They also hunt using their sight and smell. They are also commonly found in their range, from where they dive into the water at any slight disturbance. It is also quick in fleeing from danger. Still, when captured or cornered, it usually does not hesitate in defending itself. The bigger snakes can cause a painful bite.

These snakes are social only at fall and spring, right after overwintering. They are typically found in groups at different basking sites. They love coiling together. Most of the time, they are solitary animals, most especially during the warmer months. It is also common to find these snakes on overhanging branches, beaver lodges, walkways, dried cattail stems, as well as other shallow water areas.

Northern water snakes possibly communicate using touch and smell. They also tend to use their sight and detection to vibration to locate their prey.

Diet

Northern water snakes love a variety of diets depending on their species and habitat. Some of the snakes eat small mammals, invertebrates, amphibians, and fish. They eat almost any animal that they encounter. For this, they are regarded as a beneficial species due to their preference for eating pests such as mice.

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They also prefer hunting at night in the water, catching small fishes and minnows. Another interesting aspect about these snakes is that even though they are nonvenomous, their bite features anticoagulant substance that prevents the bite wound from healing completely.

Reproduction

These water snakes usually mate around April through June. They are described as ovoviviparous, which means that they bear to live young. They do not lay eggs, just like other snake varieties. Rather, the mother carries the eggs in her body, giving birth to free-living youth. Each of the young ones is 19 to 23 cm in length.

A female snake can lay as many as thirty young at any given time. The average, however, is eight. These young are usually born between August and October. The mother snakes do not usually care for their young, which means that as soon that they are young, they are usually left on their own.

The young snakes grow quite fast during the first couple of years, doubling in terms of size as they reach two years old. This is also the time when they become sexually mature. At three years onwards, these snakes continue to grow at a slower pace. As they continue to grow older, they are also observed to become darker in color. Snakes that are kept in captivity are known to survive even up to ten years.

Brumation

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Northern Water Snakes usually travel distances from their original water habitat, showing up in extremely different conditions. In some cases, they are even found below railroad tires and other areas. In winter, they often bromate far from water. Quite interestingly, it is not unheard of for Northern Water Snakes to bromate with other species, including the copperhead, black rat snake, and the timber rattlesnake in habitats where they are usually found.

Development and Reproduction

Male Northern Watersnakes are capable of reproducing when they reach 21 months old. The female snakes, on the other hand, start to breed when they reach three years old. They tend to produce a single litter every year. Most of the reproduction happens while in, or close to their sites of hibernation during the mid-April to mid-June. The latitude and temperature may impact the variation of reproduction during these times.

During the breeding season, a male approaches a female, rubbing his chin along her back. A spasmodic jerk occasionally happens. Then, he twines his tail around the tail of the female, bringing their cloacal openings in contact. Typically, only a single female copulates with a female. On specific occasions, there may be two.

The gestation may last between 3 and 5 months. The young snakes are born alive, which means that these snakes do not lay eggs, from July to September. The litter also varies in size. Bigger female snakes usually have larger litters.

Female snakes usually protect and nurture their young right before they are born. However, after they are born, young snakes become independent, and they are already capable of caring for themselves and hunting their food.

Possible Danger to Humans

Northern Water Snakes are nonvenomous by nature, which means that they are harmless to humans. However, since they look similar to the venomous cottonmouth, they are often killed as a result of mistaken identity.

These types of water snakes can be distinguished easily based on their morphological traits. The Northern water snake has a longer and more slender body with a flattened heat which features the same width as its neck. It also features round pupils. They also do not have heat-sensing pits.

On the other hand, the cottonmouth snake has a relatively fatter body, with a wedge-shaped head and prominent venom glands which are wider compared to its neck. It also features cat-like pupils, along with heat-sensing pits located in between the eyes and the nostrils.

Reputation – Aquatic Predators

Some people notice a “stick” floating around the lily pads, suddenly moving afterward. A group of veterans tried casting a bait near the lily pad, but it did not scare the presumed “stick” away. Rather, it waited fearlessly until the cast frightened a small frog instead. Then, the stick, which is actually a water snake, became active and turned into an aggressive predator. This is an observation that earned the reputation of northern water snakes as aquatic predators.

These snakes rightfully deserve their aggressive reputation. They are often observed to approach anglers in boats or on land. They also tend to defend their resting locations. While they are hunting for food, they also do not shy away easily from people. As such, it is often recommended to stay from a distance and retreat when approached by this snake.

It is often not a good idea to hold water snakes, let alone, keep them as pets. They have very powerful jaws that can easily inflict a serious bite. If cornered or handled, it tends to strike repeatedly at the enemy. At worst, the bites of these snakes bleed seriously, which comes as a result of the presence of an anticoagulant quality found in the saliva of these snakes.

These snakes play a vital role in maintaining balance in nature. This predator is fascinating to observe from a distance, as they become aggressive in foraging for food, basking in the sun, swimming under and across the watery areas, or crawling around the roots in its habitat.

Snakes are, by nature, reptile. The characteristics of these snakes include having an internal skeleton that is supported by their backbone, with scaly, dry skin. They breathe with lungs, though they cannot regulate their body temperature. They reproduce live young.

Activities During Summer

From April to October, you can observe these water snakes in different areas. At daytime, they can be observed basking under the sun on rocks and brush or hunting among the water edges of plants. Their menu at daytime includes worms, frogs, salamanders, crayfish, small birds or bird eggs in nests.

At nighttime, they tend to use darkness as cover, while hunting minnows and injured, or slow-moving fish. Their romance starts when the warm temperatures become stable, which means that mating can finally take place.

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These northern water snakes give birth to actual live young during August and October. The young are brighter in color, usually more vivid than their parents. The mothers do not care for their young, as the newborns know how to care for themselves, even hunting their food.

This phase of their life is usually the most dangerous, which is why mortality among Northern Water Snakes are usually the highest among juveniles. They are usually eaten and preyed upon by bass in ponds, as well as other bigger sport fish in lakes.

Even as they reach adulthood, these snakes still have a lot of predators including raccoons, hawks, great blue heron, foxes, as well as snapping turtles. When they feel threatened, they tend to vigorously defend themselves by biting repeatedly and striking, while releasing musk and excrement.

Another dangerous thing about Northern Water Snakes is crossing roads during migrating and breeding season, especially when traveling from one source of water to another while searching for food, mate or a place to hide.

If these snakes are successful in avoiding cars and predators, they can live for more than five years. When the temperatures go low, and the frost arrives, these snakes look for a winter den. These sites may be burrows, rock crevices, pockets deep in the root systems, as well as other sheltered places near their habitat during the summer. During the warmer months, they may move out to other habitat locations.

Conservation and Threats

The Northern Water Snakes species is quite stable. Still, it is facing habitat loss. On top of that, these snakes are killed occasionally simply because they are mistaken for other dangerous snakes, such as water moccasins or the venomous cottonmouth.

Populations of Northern Water Snakes are currently declining surrounding areas of urban development as a result of habitat loss. In other areas, they also fall victim to people who are making a “sport” out of shooting them.

This calls for the need to encourage public education regarding their real identification, thus lessening the killing of people who mistake them as water moccasins or the venomous water snake that looks like them. Nerodia Sipedon usually lives in freshwater, as well as in brackish wetlands, so long as they can still find food and good hiding places.

Predators

A northern water snake has many predators, including raccoons, birds, foxes, snapping turtles, opossums, other snakes, and even humans. They vigorously defend themselves when they are threatened. When picked up by an animal or human, it will repeatedly bite, while releasing musk and excrement. The saliva of these snakes has a mild anticoagulant, which may result in the bite bleeding even more. This substance, however, poses a little risk to humans.

Northern Water Snakes and Ecology

This water snake’s diet mainly consists of different small-sized fish, toads, frogs, and salamanders. It is almost always near to water, or in the water. They usually love slow-flowing water, though they can swim easily and move through the water despite strong currents. When threatened or disturbed, these snakes can be really aggressive, striking out fast. Even though these water snakes feed on fish, they usually have little impact on the activities related to sport fishing. They usually eat small, and slow-moving, even injured fish.

These water snakes were killed before under the thought that they also ate game fish. However, reality dictates that they even improve fishing because they eat dead or dying fish, thus preventing the possible spread of diseases among fishes. This further reduces the overpopulation of fish, and offering food for game species, with the large game fish-eating young water snakes.

As predators, these Northern Water Snakes help in controlling the populations of the animals that they consume. Snakes, however, are being preyed upon themselves. Their newborns are defenseless and are eaten by animals that range from fish and large frogs, and even other snakes, mammals, and birds. The adult snakes, on the other hand, are also eaten by birds and other predatory mammals.

Fun Facts about Northern Water Snakes

Here are some interesting facts about Northern Water Snakes:

  • Northern water snakes are the most common varieties seen in brackish and fresh waters in the Chesapeake areas.
  • These snakes are capable of staying underwater for an hour and a half straight without coming up the surface for air.
  • These snakes are not venomous. Still, they may bite when threatened. As such, it is often best to stay at a safe distance, just in case.
  • Northern water snakes are often confused with the cottonmouth snakes, which are known to be venomous. These two types of water snakes can be distinguished, with the Northern Water Snake having round pupils, as well as a double row of scales under the tail.
  • These snakes are well-adapted to their aquatic habitat. They are also excellent swimmers, patrolling the water with just their head right above the surface.
  • Their prey is located by a combination of smell and sight, with the snakes detecting motion using their vision, while also having a sensitive sense of smell.
  • The young Northern Water Snakes fall prey to various animals. The mammal predators include skunks, minks, and otters. Their avian predators include herons, hawks, bitterns, egrets, and rails. Other snakes also prey on these watersnakes, including the northern black racer, and the eastern ratsnake.
  • These snakes emit a powerful musk from their cloacal glands and can be aggressive and fierce, biting and chewing their attackers.
  • These water snakes usually conceal themselves in covers of vegetation. In cooler temperatures, however, they bask under the sun by sitting on floating logs, rocks, and branches overhanging water. Any slight disturbance will send these water snakes back to the water fast. When they feel threatened, they can also stay submerged for long periods of 60 minutes and more. the month of October, these snakes will start to group to go through brumation. Unlike actual hibernation where the animals are usually asleep, snakes going through brumation stay awake, though inactive.
  • Aggregation refers to the grouping of snakes. They prefer winter den sites, including muskrat burrows, earthen dams, vole tunnels, and beaver lodges. From time to time, these snakes establish winter areas in upland locations. These snakes usually surface from their dens around April.

Other Notes about Northern Water Snakes

This snake is also known by other common names. For example, in Virginia, they are known as a water snake, common water snake, water moccasin, dryland moccasin, a brown-banded water snake, the banded water snake, and moccasin. At times, the difference in their common name has something to do with the location they are in.

Where to Get One?

If you are planning to care for a Northern Water Snake as a pet, it is recommended to visit a reptile breeder. It is rare to find this variety of snake in usual pet stores.

How to Care for Northern Water Snake as Pet

In captivity, Northern water snakes can be maintained easily. Even though fresh drinking water should be present at all times, care is important to keep the captive environment dry. These snakes are extremely vulnerable to scale rot, which is a bacterial infection caused by the incapacity to dry out completely. Even though some topical solutions can be bought, it is best to prevent scale rot from happening.

There are different types of substrate that you can prepare for this species, such as dry mulch, rubber backed commercial carpet. It is also vital to prepare an overhead light for your snake. These snakes spend a huge amount of their time basking at various levels beneath the heat bulb, enjoying the benefits of the full spectrum rays. It is also important to install a strong branch that can support an adult-sized snake. Northern water snakes enjoy a diet of frogs, fish, and salamanders. It is important to keep the living environment of your snakes clean.

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FAQ Section

Are Northern Water Snakes Dangerous?

Northern water snakes are non-venomous. This means that they are harmless to humans. However, they are superficially similar to the venomous cottonmouth in appearance. As such, they are unnecessarily killed due to mistaken identity.

Do Northern Water Snakes bite?

Adult Northern Water Snakes have dark bands. Because of this appearance, they are usually mistaken as the venomous cottonmouths or copperheads. However, Northern Water Snakes are not venomous by nature. Still, they can be agitated. When this happens, they usually flatten their bodies and bite.

How do you identify a Northern Water Snake?

In terms of appearance, Northern Water Snakes have back dorsal, or back bands which are located on the anterior part of the body. This can also change to alternating back and side blotches. Their belly scales, on the other hand, usually have dark half-moon shaped marks on them.

Are Northern Water Snakes aggressive?

As a water snake, Northern Water Snakes can be aggressive. When they are handled, they may tend to hiss, or even bite as a defense. As such, some do not consider them as good options for pets. They could also be aggressive when approached, even when they are not touched.

Are Northern Water Snakes Protected?

In areas wherein the presence of Northern Water Snakes is abundant, they are not protected throughout most of the location. However, in the state of Georgia, in particular, they are protected accordingly.

Do Northern Water Snakes lay eggs?

Most snakes under the water snakes category, Northern Water Snakes included, are described as live-bearers. This means that even though the females do not lay eggs, they give birth to live young. This is particularly true among snakes found in most parts of the Eastern United States.

How long do Northern Water Snakes live?

Northern Water Snakes are known to reach up to 9 years in captivity. Their average lifespan in the average is quite unknown.

How big can Northern Water Snakes get?

Females are generally longer and heavier than males. They also tend to grow much faster. These water snakes can grow large, usually reaching about 5 feet or 1.5 meters. Other species also average about 3 feet in length.

What do Northern Water Snakes look like?

These snakes usually have dark, brownish, grayish or tan colors. The sides and backs feature a series of square blotches that alternate with each other, even merging to create bands. The adult snakes may appear black or solid brown, particularly when dry. The belly is typically white, orangish, or yellowish, with dark half-moon-shaped black edges.

Where do Northern Water Snakes live?

Northern water snakes are usually found in the Southern part of Ontario, as well as the northeastern part of the United States, from Kansas and Nebraska in the west, to the Atlantic Coast. They can also be found as far south as Southern Missouri and North Carolina.

What type of habitat do Northern Water Snakes need?

Northern water snakes prefer different aquatic habitats, including streams, rivers, lakes, sloughs, bogs, ponds, marshes, as well as impoundments. They love open areas which offer different spots for them to bask under the sun while enjoying still waters. They may also move to land, particularly the young ones, though they never really stray far away from their aquatic environment.

How do Northern Water Snakes reproduce?

Male Northern water snakes can start reproducing as soon as they reach 21 months old. The females, on the other hand, start to breed when they reach three years old. They can produce a single litter every year. Most of the reproduction happens while in or close to their hibernation sites, that is, between mid-April and mid-June. The latitude and temperature may result in variation in these times.

How do Northern Water Snakes behave?

Northern water snakes are social only after overwintering, during the fall and spring seasons. They are usually found in groups, together at basking sites. They usually coil together. They are mostly solitary animals, particularly in the warmer months.

Can Northern Water Snakes communicate with each other?

The possible form of communication between Northern Water Snakes is through touch and smell. They can also utilize their sense of sight, as well as a detection to vibration to locate their prey.

What do Northern Water Snakes eat?

These snakes are scavengers and carnivores by nature. This means that they eat a wide variety of prey, including fish, amphibians, crayfish, large insects, birds, turtles, leeches, small mammals, as well as other snakes.

How do Northern Water Snakes avoid their predators?

These snakes usually escape their predators by swimming across the water, or by diving right below the surface. They usually anchor themselves to logs or vegetation. They usually stay submerged for around 5 minutes, though they can stay below water for up to an hour and a half.

What is the role of Northern Water Snakes in the ecosystem?

These snakes help in controlling the populations of their main prey, including amphibians, fish, and other reptiles.

Do Northern Water Snakes cause problems?

In general, these water snakes may cause a potential problem for fish farms and fish hatcheries.

How do Northern Water Snakes interact with humans?

In contrast to popular belief, Northern Water snakes are beneficial towards fish populations. They usually feed on dying and diseased fish. They also help in controlling areas where there may be an overpopulation. This could turn out to be a positive thing for the sportfishing industry.

FAQs

What do I need for a water snake? ›

Realistically, you could set up your water snake's enclosure like any other North American colubrid. They only need a water dish large enough to completely submerge in. Since diamondback water snakes prefer an aquatic habitat, we highly recommend using a larger water dish that allows the snake to swim around.

What is the biggest northern water snake? ›

Speaking of bigger, female Northern Water Snakes are quite a bit bigger than males in this species. The maximum body size reported in Conant and Collins for a Northern Water Snakes was 1500 mm (almost 5 feet).

Are Northern Michigan water snakes poisonous? ›

As adults, they have dark bands and are often mistaken for copperheads or cottonmouths, but these snakes are not venomous. However, when agitated they may flatten their bodies and bite.

What water snakes are in northern Michigan? ›

The six water-dwelling snakes in Michigan are Northern Water Snakes, Copperbelly Water Snakes, Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes, Northern Ribbon Snakes, Queen Snakes, and Kirtland's Snakes. These snakes live in and around various bodies of water and feed off the wildlife living near them.

Can I give tap water to my snake? ›

In most places around the world tap water is safe for snakes if it is safe for people. It sounds very simple but it's true: if your tap water isn't safe for you, it's because it contains germs, parasites, or chemicals. If, however, you drink your tap water regularly, it will be ok for your snake.

Do pet snakes get lonely? ›

Most snake species do not get lonely. They are asocial and only seek out others of their own species when mating. One exception to this is the garter snake. This snake seems to enjoy the company of other snakes, and so it's quite possible garter snakes suffer from loneliness when alone.

Can you keep a northern water snake as a pet? ›

Water snakes make great pets. In fact, water snakes are commonly thought to be the best kind of snake to keep as a pet. There are many benefits to owning a Water Snake like relatively few feeding times, a docile attitude, and a relatively small enclosure. Water snakes are pretty easy to take care of.

Does a northern water snake bite hurt? ›

The northern water snake isn't venomous but if cornered or captured, it won't hesitate to defend itself biting repeatedly, defecating and releasing a foul smelling musk. A large adult can inflict a painful bite, which can bleed profusely since their saliva contains a mild anticoagulant.

Do northern water snakes make good pets? ›

Heyborne noted that water snakes are known to be aggressive. “When handled, they tend to hiss or bite as a defense,” he said. For this reason, they do not make good pets. They sometimes become aggressive when approached, even if they are not touched.

Will a water snake bite you? ›

Even though water snakes are nonvenomous, they can still bite and are often killed by humans out of fear that they are cottonmouths.

How big does a northern water snake get? ›

Northern water snakes are often mistaken as being a copperhead or cottonmouth. The northern water snake has a flat head that is as wide as its neck. The northern water snake reaches up to 4.5 feet in length.

Is a northern water snake a water moccasin? ›

Water moccasins have distinct bands of darker scales, while northern watersnakes have squarish splotches, rather than bands. Further, as pit vipers, cottonmouths have visible 'pits' between their eyes and nostrils which northern watersnakes lack.

Where do water snakes go in the winter? ›

They need to overwinter in areas that will not freeze. The underground becomes their winter home, where they spend their time in temperature-stable burrows below the freezing line, and often share the space with other snakes.

What is the deadliest snake in Michigan? ›

Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, the only venomous snake in Michigan, are shy creatures that will avoid humans whenever possible. Also known as "swamp rattlers," they spend the vast majority of their time in year-round wetlands hunting their primary prey, mice.

What do water snakes eat in Michigan? ›

The endangered copperbelly water snake is found in southern Michigan, northern Indiana and Ohio. It feeds primarily on amphibians, mostly frogs and tadpoles. Copperbelly water snakes need shallow wetlands along the edges of larger wetlands complexes where they can hunt for frogs.

How often should I change my snakes bedding? ›

Spot clean your chosen reptile substrate every day, and replace it every 1-2 months or more often if necessary.

How often should you change your snakes water? ›

How Often Should I Change Snake Water? Snake water should be changed every 1 – 2 days. If your snake soaks in their water, make sure to change it after and also make sure you are supplying them with filtered water only!

Should you wash your hands after touching a snake? ›

Usually, this happens when people handle reptiles or amphibians or their droppings and then accidentally touch their mouths or forget to wash their hands before eating or drinking. It is important to thoroughly wash your hands immediately after contact because the germs can easily spread to other people or things.

Do snakes get bored of their cage? ›

Most species will love a hide that provides a place to retreat. So, to sum things up, your snake doesn't think exactly as you do, but an improper tank will cause “boredom” and poor health.

Do snakes like being held? ›

Snakes won't be receptive to your affection—they're wary animals who don't like being held, touched, petted, or passed around. It's stressful for them and puts them at risk of illness and injury, and because they don't whine or yelp, you may not realize that they're hurt.

Can snakes learn their name? ›

Although they won't recognize their name, as such, they may be able to differentiate between your voice and the voices of others. They may also be able to recognize different sounds and associate these sounds with different outcomes.

Do pet snakes like to cuddle? ›

Snakes do not tend to enjoy cuddling because they have evolved to be solitary creatures. It's unlikely that snakes respond to physical contact the way mammals and birds do. However, over time a snake can associate you as a positive part of its life due to providing food and heat.

Do pet snakes need baths? ›

Snakes – Yes, They Like Baths Too

If they are shedding and their skin isn't shed off in one piece, soaking or misting them can help them shed retained skin. Just as it does for us, bathing feels good for reptiles and provides them the added benefit of hydration as they absorb water through their skin.

Do pet snakes feel love? ›

Snakes don't have the intellectual capacity to feel human emotions like love or affection. So no, they can't feel affection for you. They can, however, feel an affinity for you as a non-threatening creature that cares for it.

What time of day are water snakes most active? ›

Snakes are at their most active when it's cool out. They move around most in the early morning and around dusk.

Do northern water snakes lay eggs? ›

Mating Habits

Northern water snakes are polygynous meaning that males mate with more than one female. The breeding season usually takes place from April through June. These snakes are ovoviviparous, which means they do not lay eggs like many other snakes.

Are water snakes poisonous to dogs? ›

This particular snake is listed as non-venomous so you don't have to worry about tissue degradation and necrosis from the bite in a dog.

Do water snake bites hurt? ›

Most water snake bites result in pain and swelling around the wound. In some cases, bites might even produce an allergic reaction. You can seek medical advice if this happens. Many water snakes look like venomous snakes.

What does a northern water snake eat? ›

These snakes eat small fish, worms, frogs, salamanders and crayfish and will swallow their prey alive.

How long do Northern water snakes live? ›

Northern water snakes have been known to live up to 9 years and 7 months in captivity. Their lifespan in the wild is unknown.

Can snakes swim up toilets? ›

Yes, but it's not common. Sometimes snakes will swim up through the pipes or enter a bathroom through an open window or door and coil up in a toilet bowl in search of a place to cool down during the hot, dry summers. However, this doesn't really happen in urban areas.

Do water snakes eat mice? ›

Water snakes also feed on land animals such as rodents, mice, shrews, and other small mammals. Water snakes seek amphibians and fish in and near the water.

Can snakes climb walls? ›

The answer is that yes, some species of snake are excellent climbers, and can climb walls. But not just any wall. The snake must have something to grab ahold of and push off of. Not even a rough surface will do - snakes can't "stick" to walls the way insects, rats, and lizards often do.

How do you take care of a northern water snake? ›

It is important to provide an overhead light for your water snake and a full spectrum heat bulb would be ideal. Water snakes spend a great deal of the day basking at different levels beneath the heat bulb and likely benefit from the full spectrum rays. A strong branch to support an adult-sized snake is essential.

Do water snakes have teeth? ›

Pick up any big water snake improperly, and you'll get snakebit for sure, and probably bleed. But the rows of tiny teeth really do little more than scratch. And I doubt anyone has ever been bitten by a water snake, or any other non venomous species, without first picking up or otherwise harassing the snake.

What do snakes drink? ›

Snakes often drink droplets from rainwater or mist off of their own scales. These snakes depend on rain or mist for most of their water intake. Some have specialized scales to collect water droplets to drink off their body drop by drop, said Zach Marchetti, curator of animals.

Do northern water snakes leave water? ›

When they aren't basking, northern watersnakes can be found hiding under logs, flat rocks, boards, and other cover near the water's edge. Northern watersnakes are able to leave water and travel overland, but never venture too far from their freshwater habitats.

Do northern water snakes rattle their tail? ›

According to the Virginia Herpetological Society, northern water snakes can also mimic venomous rattlesnakes by vibrating their tail to ward off predators.

Where do water snakes lay their eggs? ›

Sea kraits are nocturnal, feeding primarily on eels at depths of less than 15 metres (49 feet). They go ashore to lay their eggs, climbing up into limestone caves and rock crevices, where they deposit 1–10 eggs. Adults average 1 metre in length, but some grow to more than 1.5 metres.

What temperature is too cold for snakes to be out? ›

The coldest temperature a snake will survive in is 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18°C). Anything lower, and there is a good chance the snake will not survive. Read on to learn how snakes adapt to the cold.

Where do water snakes go when it rains? ›

As the rain floods their homes in the ground, snakes leave the holes in an effort to find a new dry and safe place. This could mean a snake might enter your home, shed, garage, or barn, but it also means they will be out where you will see them on trails, sidewalks, and the like.

How long can a snake be cold before it dies? ›

Anything colder than 75°F lowers the amount of time that your snake can go without heat, and without brumation, temperatures below 65°F for even a couple of hours can usually be deadly for snakes.

What snake puffs up in Michigan? ›

When threatened, hognose snakes puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies, and hiss loudly – this has led to local names like “puff adder” or “hissing viper.” If this act is unsuccessful, they will writhe about, excrete a foul-smelling musk and then turn over with mouth agape and lie still, as though dead.

What snake species kills the most humans? ›

The killer of the most people

The saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus) may be the deadliest of all snakes, since scientists believe it to be responsible for more human deaths than all other snake species combined.

Are there water moccasin in Michigan? ›

Water moccasins (cottonmouths), which are venomous, do not occur anywhere near Michigan.

What are water snakes attracted to? ›

Water snakes are the most common types you'll encounter. They are attracted to streams, canals, ponds, marshes and lakes. They appear most frequently between spring and fall, when weather turns warm, as they will move about searching for food and a place where they can gain access to sunlight.

Do Michigan water snakes bite? ›

Water snakes are not venomous, but will bite if cornered or handled. They are sometimes mistakenly called “water moccasins” (which are not native to Michigan).

What do water snakes drink? ›

New research shows that pelagic sea snakes quench their thirst by drinking freshwater that collects on the surface of the ocean after heavy rainfall. Surrounded by salty water, sea snakes sometimes live a thirsty existence.

What supplies do I need for a pet snake? ›

  • Food.
  • Environmental Control & Lighting.
  • Filter Media. Deodorizers.
  • Substrate & Bedding.
  • Vitamins & Supplements.
  • Food & Water Bowls.
  • Starter Kits.
  • Live Reptiles.

What does a snake need in its tank? ›

Some everyday substrates for snakes include newspaper, butcher paper, and cypress mulch. Other common decorations and accessories for snakes include a water bowl, a hide spot, rocks, and branches. The rocks and branches will give your snake something to rub against when shedding its skin.

What equipment do you need for a pet snake? ›

Snakes should be kept in a vivarium, a special enclosed cage with glass doors. Snakes require a very specific environment in their vivarium, so make sure to always do your research to provide them with their ideal home. Snakes that are more active need a larger vivarium so that they have more space to roam around.

What do pet water snakes eat? ›

Water snakes eat fish and amphibians. Depending on your location, feeder fish can be easy to source regularly. Amphibians are not readily available as feeder animals, no matter where you live. Some water snakes will accept frozen-thawed rodents if you show patience.

What do snakes need to be happy? ›

The first and foremost point is to ensure that the basics are in place. That is; an adequate sized terrarium, appropriate temperature levels allowing for thermal regulation, adequate humidity levels if necessary, enough food and water and a hiding place where the snake may retreat to.

Do pet snakes like to be petted? ›

Snakes won't be receptive to your affection—they're wary animals who don't like being held, touched, petted, or passed around. It's stressful for them and puts them at risk of illness and injury, and because they don't whine or yelp, you may not realize that they're hurt.

How can I tell if my snake likes me? ›

Signs That Your Snake Likes You
  1. Calm, unhurried movements. ...
  2. Takes food from you or while you are present. ...
  3. Will calmly explore you when you hold it. ...
  4. Comes to the front of the enclosure when you are present. ...
  5. Rests on you. ...
  6. Explores when you are nearby. ...
  7. Behaves differently with you.

What is the best bedding for snakes? ›

Aspen bedding is one of the most popular types of beddings for pet snakes. These wood shavings are nearly free of dust, don't have a smell that will irritate your snake's respiratory tract (like pine and cedar can do), and are free of dyes. Aspen is very absorbent, so it's great for containing messes.

What do you put in the bottom of a snake cage? ›

Substrate, or bedding material, should be easy to clean and nontoxic to the snake. Newspaper, butcher paper, towels, or Astroturf (artificial grass) is recommended. When using Astroturf, buy two pieces and cut them to fit the bottom of the cage.

How long can a snake be out of its cage? ›

Do not handle your snake more than once per day. When taking your snake out of their cage, be sure not to keep them out for more than twenty minutes at a time, and to put them back into their habitat immediately if they begin to show signs of distress.

How do you entertain a pet snake? ›

Climbing branches are entertaining toys for snakes. You can bend them into different shapes to give your snake new ways of navigating its enclosure. Snakes also really enjoy exploring tunnels, climbing on rocks, and hiding in fake plants. Snakes don't play with toys in the same way as other mammals.

How do you bond with a pet snake? ›

Try to handle your snake as much as you can so it gets used to being around you. Aim to hold your snake for at least 20-30 minutes each day so it has a chance to spend time with you. Avoid handling your snake 2-3 days after you feed it since it will need time to digest.

Do pet snakes get bored? ›

Most species will love a hide that provides a place to retreat. So, to sum things up, your snake doesn't think exactly as you do, but an improper tank will cause “boredom” and poor health.

Do northern water snakes make good pets? ›

Heyborne noted that water snakes are known to be aggressive. “When handled, they tend to hiss or bite as a defense,” he said. For this reason, they do not make good pets. They sometimes become aggressive when approached, even if they are not touched.

How often should you feed a water snake? ›

Smaller or younger snakes usually eat twice each week, while larger, more mature snakes typically eat once every week or two. Female snakes approaching breeding season can be fed more frequently.

How do you take care of a northern water snake? ›

It is important to provide an overhead light for your water snake and a full spectrum heat bulb would be ideal. Water snakes spend a great deal of the day basking at different levels beneath the heat bulb and likely benefit from the full spectrum rays. A strong branch to support an adult-sized snake is essential.

› learning-center › snake-care-... ›

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