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Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon)
Description: A water snake with dark bands or blotches on a light
brown or gray background color. Some old adults may appear solid black or brown.
The belly is white with reddish half moon shaped markings; some specimens have
an orange belly speckled with brown or black. (The endangered Copper Bellied
Water Snake has an unmarked reddish or orange belly.) Adult length: 2 to 4 feet.
Photo © Jim Harding
Habitat and Habits: These snakes inhabit the shorelines of lakes,
ponds, or streams. They swim well, seeking food (frogs and fish) and safety in
the water, and often bask on objects hanging over the water. Water snakes are
not venomous, but will bite if cornered or handled. They are sometimes
mistakenly called "water moccasins" (which are not native to Michigan).
Reproduction: Females give birth to their 7 to 9 inch young in late
summer. There are 8 to 48 babies in a litter. The young are gray or brown with
bold black bands.
Range and Status: Northern water snakes are found throughout the Lower
Peninsula and the eastern Upper Peninsula. Needless persecution by humans has
eliminated water snakes from many places where they were once common.
Related Documents> Northern Water Snake Occurrences Map - 110824 bytes