Fast Fact: Northern Water Snakes

Northern water snakes are one of the most common snakes we see in northern Illinois. In the spring and early summer you can often spot them sunning themselves on rocks, logs and even paved trails around waterways. Don’t worry about these snakes, though. They aren’t venomous or dangerous to people in any way.

A northern water snake. (Photo by Chad Merda)

They generally grow to be 1 foot to 2 feet long. They are usually brown or brownish red in color with bands or blotches along their bodies. Northern water snakes live in wetland areas and are often seen in the water. They swim with just their heads above water. Like all snakes, they are carnivores. They eat a wide variety of prey, including fish, insects, crayfish, frogs, toads, salamanders and sometimes mice and shrews.


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