The common watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) is one of the most widely distributed and most abundant snakes in Ohio. It may inhabit just about any permanent body of water.
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This stout-bodied snake shows extreme variations in color and pattern, and is unfortunately confused by many with the venomous water moccasin, or cottonmouth. The cottonmouth, however, does not inhabit Ohio. This snake can reach up to 42 inches.
Mating occurs in April and June and the 4-99 young are born in the late summer and fall. These snakes do not lay eggs. No parental care is involved.
Habitat & Behavior
Common watersnakes are particularly fond of basking, and can often be seen sunning upon emerged logs, stumps, and rocks, or on low branches overhanging the water. They are very wary and, when disturbed, drop into the water and disappear quickly. Watersnakes usually flee from man, but when grabbed they are almost always extremely aggressive. They bite viciously and large ones are capable of producing painful, deep lacerations. When picked up, they invariably secrete an obnoxious smelling substance from their musk glands. Common watersnakes usually feed on amphibians, fish, and small mammals.