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Northern Watersnake- Nerodia sipedon- Couleuvre d'eau

Tracy Wazny

Norwood, Canada

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Artist's Description

329 views as of Jan 3 2012.

The Northern Watersnake is a relatively thick-bodied snake,large snake, up to a meter or more in length. Its dorsal surface has dark brown to black blotches or bands on a lighter tan,or brown background, and there are smaller, darker lateral patches alternating with the dorsal bands.

This general description would fit Milksnakes,Hog-nosed snakes and many more…but the best way to distinguish the Watersnake from other blotched snakes is that the Watersnakes are usually in the water or right beside it and Milksnakes and Hog-nosed Snakes are not.

It is considerd to be a “vicious” snake to those that don’t understand it, as it will bit repeatedly if grabbed…but consider what you would do if you were grabbed by " prey" several times your size!! Self preservation…

They are not poisonous!! They are very curious and will approach you and may nip a swimmer with exploritory bites…and love to swim alongside a canoe…this brazen behaviour makes the snake un popular with swimmers and other people trying to enjoy the great outdoors and nature, and as a consequence, Watersankes are heavily persecuted for their impudence. However their curiousity also makes Watersnakes easy to train to eat from ones hand in the wild. They like frogs,tadploes and small fish and can readily learn to feed at a particular spot and time. A human and a watersnake can soon grow to love one another. Such humans become protectors of snakes, and this is good. However, one caution must always be taken as the fed Watersankes do not generally extand gratitude to thier benefactors, and if picked up will bite vigorously.

Having said that… far from being cold and slimy, a snake feels warm,soft and dry to the touch and handling snakes is the best way to overcome our fear of them. There is only one poisonous snake in Ontario, the Massassauga Rattler. It lives in the area of Gerorgian Bay. All snakes should be handled with resonable caution…the Gatersnake, the Milksnake and especialy the Watersnake will bite if they are roughly treated and most snakes when first handled are, not surprisingly, frightend, and will smear foul smelling concoctions on their bodies as away to defend themseleves. Other snakes not mentioned here will never bite, no matter how badly they are treated, but those that do bite should not be given a bad name just for defending them selves. After all, a chipmunk will also bite in self defense and far more devastatingly than any Algonquin snake.

I’ve been bit by both…they both left a welt!! lol— Tracy Faught.

Generaly snakes are small, with delicate bones, and it’s surprisingly easy to damage vital organs or delicate vertebrae…in this spirit we sugest that best of all is to leave any snake alone, and just stop to admire it as you would with any other form of wildflife.

—Reptiles and Amphibians of Algonquin Provincial Park.

This snake was found in the Chalk River, Chalk River Ontario, ouside the park bondary but in the same geographic region.

Sept 15 2010

Fuji Finepix S200 EXR Digital.

Artwork Comments

  • Malcolm Chant
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  • Carla Wick/Jandelle Petters
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