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Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake
Nerodia sipedon sipedon

Image of northern water snakeDescription

A water snake with dark bands or blotches on a light brown or gray background color. Old adults may appear solid black or brown. The belly is white with reddish crescent shaped markings; some specimens have an orangish belly speckled with brown or black.

Adult Length:

2 to 4 feet.

Habitat and Habits

These snakes inhabit the shorelines of lakes, ponds, or streams, where they feed on fish and frogs. Not venomous, but will bite if threatened. Often mistakenly called "water moccasins" (which are not native to Michigan).


From 8 to 48 young are born alive in late summer. The young are gray or brown with bold black bands.

Range and Status

Northern Water Snakes are found throughout the Lower Peninsula; they are uncommon and local in the eastern Upper Peninsula. Needless persecution by humans has eliminated water snakes from many former habitats.


James Harding
MSU Museum
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 353-7978