Common facts about the northern water snake

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Wow! Can you believe it's almost the end of May. We have had a such an up and down spring, weather-wise.

May is usually one of my busiest months during snake season. But it has truly been slow this year.

This week we are writing about a native snake found in Frederick County and in surrounding Maryland counties as well: the northern water snake.

This snake is gorgeous and sometimes mistaken for a Copperhead. Needless to say, many northern water snakes are killed each year because people aren't aware of what type of snake they are dealing with. That is why I enjoy writing about snakes and wildlife even if I only reach a few people, that means there is more understanding about the wonderful living things around us.

Remember, all creatures have a purpose just like a human. We need to maintain a strong balance, for one day that balance can be interrupted.

The water snake is a reddish-brown or gray-to-brownish black with dark crossbands on their neck region and alternating down there backside. Their patterns darken with age, becoming almost black with a white belly and yellow or gray spots.

Northern water snakes mate in the months of April, May and June, and possibly up to 30 young are live born between August and October. The northern water snake can be an aggressive snake; when cornered they are not dangerous but can deliver a very painful bite. They also musk when threatened and, believe me, it smells bad.

Northern water snakes are aquatic and are very active day and night.

They love to bask on rocks or stumps. They hunt frogs, small fish, minnows and juvenile turtles. They love lakes, ponds, swamps and marshes. The main reason a bite from a water snake is painful is due to the anticoagulant of the snakes saliva.

I have sat for hours along creek sides watching watersnakes. I like the way they swim in the water. They are very fast and it is amazing how they gorge themselves on minnows which I truly think is their favorite of all foods.

Here's one thing to remember when you behead a snake: they feel extreme pain for up to 15 minutes afterwards.

So please be aware of all things around your yard or when you are hiking. Snakes have such a strong purpose and deserve respect.

As they say "They are more afraid of you, than you of them." I have a saying I truly live by: "I work not for myself or others. I work only for the snakes."

Please don't forget to post a comment or question I can help you. Well, until next week ... when we will write about our poisonous snake friends around us.

Tammy McCormack is a professional snake trapper. She writes a regular column for

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