Species group: Water Snakes
Scientific name: Natrix sipedon sipedon / Nerodia sipedon sp.
The Northern Water Snake is native to North America and found all over the United States, up to the Great Lakes and southeast Canada. They are seen in the southeast coast down to Florida, and across the continent to Colorado. The natural homes of these aquatic snakes include all types of water habitats, where they are found hiding in beaver lodges or among plants and debris along the water edge. They are also sometimes seen foraging on nearby land among brush, tree stumps, and urban backyards.
Appearance / health:
Northern Water Snakes are relatively large and stout, maturing to about 4 feet in length. Base body colors include shades of gray, brown, red, and black. The most common markings are reddish brown to black broad bands near the head (on the back and sides). The bands become blotches toward the tail. As the snake ages, the color darkens and the markings tend to blend in, giving the body one solid color. The belly is creamy white with dark crescent markings. The scales are heavily keeled.
Behavior / temperament:
Northern Water Snakes hunt at night and in the daytime. They swim through all levels of water and forage along the water’s edge. When threatened, they flee, but when confronted, they strike. When handled, they typically release a foul smelling musk.
The aquatic Northern Water Snake feeds on small fish, salamander, frogs, toads, baby turtles and snakes, crayfish, insects, leeches, birds, and even small mammals.
Northern Water Snakes mate in from April to June and give birth to about 30 live young sometime from August to October.
awesome pet snakes, placid demeanor, captive born snake, Beautiful Snake
elaborate tank, raw fish fillets, lifestyle needs, captivity, poor temperament, escape attempts
dry clean cage, frequent eaters, pine bark bedding, display cabinets, small feeder fish
A Snake on a Mission
We had two Northern Water snakes for some time and of the two Red was my favorite. He was a pretty red color(shocking) and he was generally a very relaxed mellow snake. He was perfectly happy munching on small goldfish at meals and shared a split level water/land habitat with a group of Anole Lizards with no problems. He did, however, dislike being handled or moved around, he would allow it without biting but he squirmed like a lunatic. Red's greatest joy in life was the pursuit of his arch-nemesis, a goldfish that was bought to feed him but somehow got away every time. This fish turned into a big fat bruiser and he and Red met in battle many times before Red literally bit off more than he could chew and didn't survive an encounter. After that the big ugly fish was banished from the tank to live in a bowl where he could give me dirty looks(he was a jerk). All in all, I loved having water snakes, they were fun to watch and relatively easy to take care of, but entirely too adventurous..
From Fancytalk Oct 7 2015 4:32PM
Northern Water Snakes - Is This Snake Right For You?
I believe that species of snake should be kept by older children all the way up to adults. they are an average sized snake that can grow to be 3 to 4 feet long.
This snake can get defensive, and they are not known for a placid demeanor. they can get fidgety, which could make smaller children/adults nervous about how to handle the snake, causing a risk of hurting it and/or letting it go.
Northern Water snakes are frequent eaters that feed mainly on fish like guppies all the way up to smaller trout and catfish (depending on the size and age of the snake). They need to be fed every 2 to 3 days. If you don't want to feed your snake live fish, you can always buy trout and slice it into little morsels for the snakes to eat (this is not recommended for regular feeding, as it lacks the proper nutritional value found in whole fish) . These snakes can also be able to feed on frozen/thawed mice, which can be bought at your local Petco or Petsmart.
Water snakes need a large vivarium with a place where they can swim, and land where they can bask. a 40 to 50 gallon reptile tank can be perfect for these snakes. They are diurnal, so you will be able to enjoy the snakes in the morning when they are most active. They are always alert, and very intriguing.
In short, this species is relatively easy to keep and not very costly. be sure to handle the snake safely, so someday it will trust you and calm down during handling. they are truly awesome pet snakes!
From KKHerps Apr 13 2010 10:52PM
Better Left In the Wild
I worked with several Northern Water Snakes while I was a zookeeper, and it was never my favorite animal to care for. This species is very fast and active, especially when in water. They are quite aggressive and do not prefer to be handled. Part of my job was doing education programs for the public, and though we had a couple of these snakes available for programs, I preferred not to utilize them because of their personalities. Besides their poor temperament, they are equally difficult to house. True to their name, they need a significant amount of water for swimming, as well as an area of dry land. It is very time consuming to care for a mixed enclosure such as this. In addition, Northern Water Snakes are rather unhappy being in an enclosure. One of the snakes that we had at the zoo, actually rubbed his nose raw from all of his escape attempts. Because this species is native to our area and this specimen was deemed free of any health concerns, we re-released him into the wild where he would be happier. I'm sure they are a lovely snake in the wild, and serve a great purpose, but they definitely do not make great pets..
From JJewell Mar 7 2015 1:18PM