Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake

Nerodia sipedon

Northern Water Snake headClassification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Repitila
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes (snakes)
  • Family: Colubridae (Colubrid Snake Family)
  • Genus: Nerodia
  • Species: Nerodia sipedon


  • 22-53″ (2-4′) (56-135 cm)


  • not poisonous
  • saliva acts as anticoagulant
  • more aggressive than garter snakes
  • will bite if handled

Where to find Northern Water Snakes (Habitat)

  • excellent swimmer
  • freshwater habitats (ponds, swamps, creeks, rivers, salt marshes, bogs)
  • sea level to elevations of 1450 m (4800′)
  • waits/basks on mucky sunlit sides of creeks, streams, ponds
  • found on limbs that hang over the water

How to Identify an Northern Water Snake

Coloration Northern Water Snake

  • different subspecies differ slightly from the description below
  • reddish brown to charcoal gray
  • dark brick-reddish crossbands outlined black that darken with age (i.e. turn to black)
  • these crossbands are more apparent on the underside that doesn’t see as much sun
  • underside is whitish or gray with reddish brown and black crescent-shaped spots
  • look for dark crossbands on the neck.
  • no dark line from eye to corner of mouth like you would find on Southern Water Snakes Nerodia fasciata


  • keeled
  • 21-25 rows
  • divided anal plate

BreedingNorthern Water Snake Habitat

  • April-June
  • 8-30 (99) young
  • hatch August-October
  • 6.5-12″ (16.5-30 cm) long at birth

Food Web

  • prey: insects, frogs, salamanders, crustaceans, turtle hatchlings,  small fish, mice and other small mammals



  • North: Quebec, Ontario,
  • Bangor and Lake Champlain
  • South: Georgia
  • West: Colorado, Alabama, Louisiana


 Northern Water Snake Length


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