Nature Close to Home's Dave Woehr Shares Information on the Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon)


LEBANON, OH -- The Northern Watersnake is one of the most common and widely distributed of the snake species in Ohio. But, unless you are within a few feet of the shoreline of a lake, pond, stream, swamp, or other aquatic ecosystem, you may never see it. That is because this snake’s diet consists primarily of other water-loving residents such as frogs, toads, fish, tadpoles, salamanders, crayfish, etc. 

The Northern Watersnake can be seen in floating vegetation along the water’s edge, in shrubbery overhanging or alongside the water, on a partially submerged log, or basking on shoreline rocks. It is between three and four feet in length and about as round as a garden hose. Coloration is somewhat variable ranging from a dark charcoal gray to different banded shades of brown and tan.

The Northern Watersnake is rather shy and is usually quick to dive into the water or slip away into vegetative cover when approached by human beings. 

On the outside chance that you get close enough to touch one – DON’T! They can inflict a painful bite. Although they are not venomous, they are often confused with the Water Moccasin (a.k.a. Cottonmouth) which is. 

We do not have Water Moccasins in Ohio. Water Moccasins live south of the Appalachian Mountains, so would begin to be found from Georgia and Alabama southward. The only other species of watersnake in Ohio is the Lake Erie Watersnake, which inhabits the south shore of the western basin of Lake Erie.

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