Northern Water Snakes
Family: Natricidae - Harmless Live-Bearing Snakes
Typical Adult Size: 24 to 42 inches
Reproduction: live bearing
Eye Pupil: round
Dorsal Scales: keeled
Anal Scale: divided
Northern Water Snakes are found in much of the eastern half of the United States.
Adults are typically 2 to 3 feet in length.
There are two principal subspecies: Nerodia sipedon sipedon and Nerodia sipedon pleuralis.
Nerodia sipedon sipedon is commonly called the Northern Water Snake and
Nerodia sipedon pleuralis is called the Midland Water Snake. As their names imply
the Northerns are found in the northern half of the eastern US and the Midlands are found in the
lower half of the Mississippi River drainage. There is a large region of integration of the two
supspecies strecthing from North Carolina to Oklahoma. It is probable that all specimens found in
South Carolina are intergrades of the Northern/Midland subspecies. SC specimens from the same litter
can look like typical Northerns and Midlands.
Due to their band-like markings and frequent orange coloration, Northerns are often misidentified as venomous Copperhead Snakes.
There are two recognized minor subspecies: Nerodia sipedon insularum and Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi.
Insularum is known as the Lake Erie Water Snake. It is found in a limited range along the shores of western Lake Erie.
Williamengelsi is known as the Carolina Water Snake. It is found in a limited range near the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
|Northern Water Snakes, probable intergrades
Nerodia s. sipedons x pleuralis
|adult||immature, eating fish||adult||eating Sunfish|
|adult||Preparing to Eat a Catfish|
|adult, striking||Preparing to Eat a Catfish|
|juvenile||Eating a Catfish|
|immature, caught in minnow trap||Eating a Catfish|
| immature, one northern appearing,
one midland appearing
|Eating a Catfish|
|adult, alert in water|
July 07, 2009
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians