Northern Water Snake (1 of 2)

"The fellow on the log is a Northern Water Snake. He was probably about 4 ft long or so. I recently read up on these guys, since I encounter them on a rather frequent basis. According to what I have read, they are not classified as venomous, but they do inject a small amount of anti-coagulant venom when they bite. They are also quite aggressive in defending themselves if they feel threatened. I have another set of photos that support that theory coming next."
--Dee Puett, Photographer

(That other set is coming up tomorrow.)


  1. The anitcoagulant agent in water snakes' saliva--also found in some garters, which are close relatives--actually acts as a paralytic agent on frogs and fish. Because water snakes swallow their prey alive and do not constrict, they face a bit of a problem when trying to consume a large, struggling bullfrog, for instance. In general, water snakes are harmless, although that proto-venom does make you bleed a little longer than if, say, a corn snake of similar size bit you. To my mind, the real unpleasant part of being bitten is that their mouths are loaded with the bacteria that thrive in stagnant water. I've kept a number of northern water snakes over the years and no matter how well I cleaned bites, they frequently infected and itched for days.

  2. Did you find them especially apt to bite?

  3. Very much so. I actually did work with one recently whom I temporarily detained for a snake presentation I was doing who was the soul of courtesy and did not once offer to do more than evacuate his bowels on my pants. And some herpers will swear blind they had dog-tame water snakes--it does occur from time to time.

    As a rule, though, water snakes kept in terraria are pets in name only, even if captive-bred and raised. They're hardy animals with simply needs, but they're nippy as babies and adults are downright ornery.

  4. The difference in personalities within a species always fascinates me.


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