Monday, April 10, 2006

Water snake

I finally got a snake to pose for me!



Northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon). Click for a larger picture.

This rocky little beach was the perfect camoflage for him.



I didn't even seen him at first. Then I briefly thought that he was a Copperhead.

I tried going down to the beach to take a closer picture, but he didn't think too much of that idea.



There are four subspecies:
Nerodia sipedon sipedon, Northern water snake
Nerodia sipedon pleuralis, Midland water snake
Nerodia sipedon insularum, Lake Erie water snake
Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi, Carolina water snake

My ancient Audubon reptile book shows only the common sipedon subspecies in this part of Alabama, although some websites suggest there should only be the Midland version here. The pleuralis is supposed to have "dark back markings narrower than spaces between them," which this one does not.

They don't lay eggs, but have live babies instead.

24 comments:

Floridacracker said...

Ovoviviparous.

Jasmine is on my site today!

Lorianne said...

What a gorgeous creature! And the backdrop brings out his colors in a camouflagey kind of way.

Wayne said...

Beautiful snake! Water snakes are so duplicitous in their appearance. They do have a poisonous look about them.

Are all water snakes viviparous? I know all North American poisonous snakes are, except coral snakes - which is one reason I was comfortable with the snake eggs I hatched last year.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

That is a beauty! Yay for getting such a fine shot against that camouflage backdrop. I love seeing your snake photographs, it satisfies my snake curiosity, and I don't have to get so close! Beautiful.

yllstonewolf said...

he's a beauty! what wonderful colors!

Rachel said...

He is very well camouflaged indeed among those rocks! He looks pretty scary to me!

threecollie said...

I am amazed by how much he does resemble a copperhead in coloring. Wow. Nice photos

Pamela said...

Beautiful snake--such a serious looking snake! And in my part of the world (Ontario) at least, the species has a bad reputation (for agression and a bacteria-laden mouth), though probably undeserved.

Sonia said...

Wow, you are very courageous! Is this snake poisonous? I think that his gross tail looks a poisonous snake... He is very well camouflaged!

Beautiful photo!

Hick said...

I hate snakes, but they are kinda fascinating in a train wreck sort of way.

JLLove said...

Great post and images! Snakes do all they can to avoid us! Smart critters!

Ontario Wanderer said...

Congratulations on getting the photo! I saw the first snake of the season, here in southern Ontario, just yesterday. In spite of being early, the snake made no attempt to cooperate with photography by being slow or sluggish. It was off like a flash into and under last years leaves.

chiefbiscuit said...

Thanks to your posts, my appreciation of snakes is definitely increasing. I agree - I do like the military fatigues look about him/her. BTW how do you tell the difference between male and female snakes?

Rurality said...

Thanks y'all. I do tend to say "he" or "she", but really I have no idea how to tell if it's a male or female snake. Unless you catch it laying eggs. :)

I did not know (or didn't remember) that any snakes were live bearers until I was looking up info on water snakes yesterday, so my knowledge on that is limited... Interesting to know that most of the poisonous ones here are!

I have read that these snakes can be agressive - but only if cornered. Cottonmouths are really the only ones I've seen be aggressive. (And not all of them are.)

Anyway though they're not poisonous, I read that if a water snake bites you, it will hurt and bleed a lot. (He'll give you a nice dose of anticoagulent with the bite, apparently.)

Wayne said...

Apparently black racers can also be very territorial and aggressive at certain times of the year. I've heard anecdotes about people being chased away by them. Certainly the baby that hatched last year was bold, ferocious, utterly fearless, and completely ineffectual.

doubleknot said...

Second try to leave a comment - quicker this time - great pics - wish many more people would learn about snakes and how they fit into the ecosystem.

gnumoon said...

Wow, that really does look like a copperhead (which are also live-bearers, btw). Beautiful shots of a beautiful creature!

Vermont Neighbor said...

If I met this fellow, I would let him call all the shots!

sssssssss

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your beautiful photo. It was exactly what I've been googling tonight, when trying to identify the snake we found in Fish River, Alabama Gulf Coast today. I didn't want to kill the fellow until we knew for certain it was a poisonous one. It actually was a bit aggressive with us today. We mistakenly thought it must be guarding some eggs. It came right at my 4yo who was playing in shallow water at the river's edge, and when I intervened and tried to pick it up with a stick, it did not back off, but tried to strike at the stick and stayed close to me. Eventually, it was smart enough to move on.

Rurality said...

Thanks for commenting! I have no idea what would cause agressive behavior in a snake like that. I couldn't get close to this one at all.

Maybe as Wayne suggests, it's just the time of year.

cindy Franklin said...

My daughter and I live in Texas, and we went to the river to let her baby frogs go into the water, we wanted to find a turtle, instead we found a rather large white egg, we are not sure what it is, we have it in the lake water in a tub in the house, should we do something else with it, we thought maybe it was a turtle egg, but now maybe thinking it is a snake egg. Does anyone have any suggestions.

david said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david said...

I live on Baboosic Lake in NH. I see N. Water snakes often here. Two swim by every day.

They not seem aggressive if you leave them alone...they go the other way usually.

My neighbor tries to catch them to relocate. He's been bit. Deserves it to.

http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/wtrsnake.html

Anonymous said...

Regarding distinguishing between the male and female, it is my understanding that there is a difference in the appearance of the tail near the anal opening with the male being narrower and the female a bit wider/rounder. As far as I know water snakes do no lay eggs and give birth to live infant snakes. Thus, one would not be able to determine sex by a snake laying eggs. There are some animals that "deliver" live births that are male; thus, a water snake that is observed birthing a live litter of snakes would necessarily garranty that it is female. I would reason that a DNA analyis would be the best determination.