Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)
Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae
Nerodia s. sipedon
Photo of Adult Northern Watersnake courtesy of Scott A. Smith
24 - 42 inches. Record - 55⅛ inches.
Close-up Photo of Northern Watersnake
courtesy of John White
Can be found in or near every type of wetland habitat, from rivers to lakes, and bogs to ponds. Even lives in brackish marshes.
How to Find
Walk along wetland edges, particularly where there is slow-moving water. Look for basking individuals near escape cover. Warning: water snakes have a reputation for being ill humored. They will readily bite and “musk” upon handling. Non-venomous.
Photo of Northern Watersnake Habitat
courtesy of Tony Procheska
Distribution in Maryland
This snake is found commonly throughout Maryland.
- Discover Maryland's Herps
- Maryland Herp History
- Maryland Herp Checklist
- Survey Techniques, Collecting Ethics, Safety and the Law
- Problems with Buying Frogs and Tadpoles for Wild Release
- Technical Guide: A Key to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Maryland - 86.3 MB pdf file
- Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA) Project
- Natural Heritage Program
- Wildlife & Heritage Home
"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"
To see older newsletters, please visit the MARA Resource Page.
The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.