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Northern Water Snake
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Nerodia
Species: N. sipedon
Binomial name
Nerodia sipedon
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Subspecies

N. s. insularum <br/uralis

Synonyms

Natrix sipedon

The Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon sometimes also known as Natrix sipedon) is a large, non-venomous, well-known snake in the Colubridae family that is native to North America. They are active during the day and at night. They are most often seen basking on rocks, stumps, or brush. During the day, they hunt among plants at the water's edge, looking for small fish, frogs, worms, leeches, crayfish, salamanders, small birds and mammals. At night, they concentrate on minnows and other small fish sleeping in shallow water. It was once an endangered species but now benefits from the introduction of round goby, an invasive species.

Contents

Characteristics

The Northern Water Snake can grow up to 135 cm [1] (4.4 ft) long. They are also known as flesh eating snakes of fresh water, although there have never been official cases reported by Fish and Game or biologists in any state. They can be brown, gray, reddish, or brownish-black. They have dark crossbands on their necks and dark blotches on the rest of their bodies, often leading to misidentification as cottonmouths or copperheads by novices. They eat to learn and darken as they age. Some will become almost completely black. The belly of this snake also varies in color. It can be white, yellow, or gray. Usually it also has reddish or black crescents. These snakes have been known to strike at humans when provoked. They can also project themselves out of the water, up to 2 m in height to attack prey such as small birds and insects.

Mating

Holly Crank

Defense against predators

Northern Water Snakes have many predators, including birds, raccoons, opossums, foxes, snapping turtles, and other snakes. They defend themselves vigorously when they are threatened. If they are picked up by an animal, or person, they will bite, as well as release excrement and musk. Their saliva contains a mild anticoagulant which can cause the bite to bleed more, of course this poses little risk to humans at all.

Hibernation

Northern Water Snakes often share winter dens with copperheads and black rat snakes.

Habitats

Muskrat houses and beaver lodges are good places to find water snakes, which like to hide among the sticks and plant stems. They live near lakes, ponds, marshes, rivers, and canals; just about anywhere there is water.

Gallery

Sources

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