Moccasin or water snake?

Asked August 10, 2013, 2:42 PM EDT

I have just located a colony of snakes unlike those I have seen before. Clearly a water-loving snake. Viper-like head? They retreat rather than stand their ground. Have not seen an open mouth. Can supply other pictures.

New Castle County Delaware wildlife snakes northern water snake ponds and watergardens

1 Response

These are Northern Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon). They are non-venomous. This is an extremely variable species in terms of coloration. They can be brown, tan, gray or reddish in color. They characteristically have dark crossbands on the back and alternating lateral bars. Scales are strongly keeled. Females are usually larger than males. Although non-venomous and normally quick to escape, water snakes generally will bite readily and often if cornered or restrained, and excrete a strong musky substance from their anal area. They feed on fish and amphibians. Nice photo!

Thanks for using Ask an Expert.

Jim