Northern Water Snakes – Facts, Fiction and Phobias!   


When a large northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) swims alongside your canoe and then suddenly looks straight at you on a sultry summer day, one thing is certain; it has your undivided attention. Northern water snakes are one of the most common snakes of Oakland County and are frequently encountered as the days of summer sizzle on and we relax and recreate near ponds, lakes, marshes and rivers. They are often under-appreciated, and at times heavily feared because of their appearance and bold, opportunist behavior. Herpetologists and nature lovers in the know are enthralled with their behavior and patient observation helps to better understand their ways and coexist peacefully. Sadly, some people “know” they are venomous. They are not!

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Northern Water Snakes and You



Summer is here and we love to be near water…and so do northern water snakes.

Contrary to myth and urban legend, the northern water snake is not a cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), the only venomous water snake in the United States. The cottonmouth, sometimes called a water moccasin, is found in the Southeast, ranging from southern Virginia to Florida and west to East Texas. The only venomous snake in Oakland County is the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, and the behavior of the northern water snake and eastern massasauga rattlesnake have little in common. Our native rattler tends to be reclusive and is seldom seen. The northern water snake is often seen, and almost always at the water’s edge. Continue reading