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Common Watersnake

Nerodia sipedon

nerosipe.jpegPhoto Credit: A.B. Sheldon

Family: Colubridae (Non-venomous snakes)
Status: Common
Size: 24-40 inches

This is a medium to a 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.

Nwatersnk-map.jpegSpecies range (darker) in Wisconsin

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.