water snake

Northern Water Snake

(Nerodia sipedon sipedon)

NH Conservation Status: Not listed

State Rank Status: Widespread and secure

Distribution: Throughout NH except far north

Description: A dark, heavily blotched snake measuring 24-42 inches. Has a brown or grayish base color with numerous brown or black blotches or bands. The belly has black or red half-moon shapes that vary in pattern and arrangement.

Commonly Confused Species: Timber rattlesnake, milk snake; water moccasin or cottonmouth (not a NH species)

Habitat: Found in aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats such as streams, ponds, swamps, and marshes. Often uses logs or branches overhanging the water for basking. Rarely found far from water.

Life History: From August to October gives birth to 20-40 live young. During winter hibernates underwater or in holes near water.

Conservation Threats: Loss and degradation of wetland habitats; anything that results in reduced amphibian populations.

Distribution map: Click here for a map showing the towns where this species is reported to occur in NH

water snake
water snake
Northern water snake resting on edge of dirt trail. Notice banded patterns and round pupils (rattlesnakes have vertical pupils). Photo by Mike Marchand.
Young dark northern water snake. Photo by Alan Briere.
water snake
water snake
Colorful belly pattern of a northern water snake. Photo by Mike Marchand.
A dark northern water snake basking on dock. Sometimes the banding pattern is difficult to see in dark snakes. Photo by Mike Marchand.
water snake
water snake
Newborn northern water snake. Photo by Mike Marchand.
Photo by Mike Marchand.


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NH Fish and Game Dept.
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301

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