web analytics

Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon)

Posted on Jul 16, 2014

Today is World Snake Day, intended to draw attention to the plight of snakes worldwide and to celebrate how incredibly fascinating they are. I thought I’d share one of our local species whose classic case of mistaken identity often has it end up on the wrong end of a shovel. Throughout its extensive distribution range Northern Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon) are regularly mistaken for venomous Water Mocassins or Copperheads – even in areas where these two venomous snakes don’t even occur! Water snakes tend to show their unease with an approaching human by pretending to be bigger and more dangerous than they actually are. Their defensive behavior includes inflating the body, hissing and striking at anything within their comfort zone. Unfortunately, said humans frequently show their own unease with such behavior by killing the harmless snake. Let’s hope that World Snake Day helps people understand that all it takes to avoid these unnecessary killings is to simply give these animals some space. Regardless of whether the snake in question is venomous or not, odds are that if you give it an opportunity to escape you’ll never see it again!

Nerodia sipedon-0066