Northern Water Snakes
Nerodia sipedon

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


SC Range Map

Additional Images

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.

Additional Images:

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
Return to top of page

Return to SC Snake Index

July 07, 2009
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians