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Rori Paloski

Common Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon)

Common Watersnake photo.
Photo © A.B. Sheldon
  • Family: Colubridae (Non-venomous snakes)
  • Status: Common
  • Size: 24-40 inches

range map

Species range

This is a medium to large heavy-bodied snake. The background color is gray, brown or tan and is marked with dark brown, red-brown or black transverse blotches, which often fade with age. The underside is distinctive, white with bright red half-moons interspersed irregularly with dark gray speckling. Common watersnakes are usually found in or close to any permanent waterbody but they prefer clean rivers. Their diet includes crayfish, slow-moving fish and a variety of amphibians. This non-venomous water snake is often mistaken for a cottonmouth (also known as a water moccasin) and is subsequently killed. Cottonmouths, which are venomous, do not occur anywhere near Wisconsin.


Common Watersnake  Photo

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Common Watersnake  Photo

Common watersnake under downed log near Spring Run

Photo by Rich Staffen, WDNR.

Last revised: Tuesday, December 22, 2020