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Are Water Snakes Poisonous?

Last Updated: 14.07.24


There are many ways you can stop snakes from invading your property and we have a whole article dedicated to this issue – you should check it out! Besides using the right products to keep snakes away from your premises, it is also recommended that you take away potential sources of food and shelter.

You need to learn a few things about these creatures in order to be able to protect your yard better. For example, they will always be attracted by damp and dark places, so if you have some wood piles and you know that there are snakes around your area, there are huge chances that some of them will pay you a visit.

Furthermore, there are certain species of snakes that are poisonous and some of them that are not. Most people are confused when it comes to this topic as they believe that they can die if a snake bites them because they are venomous. The truth is that there are certain snakes that are non-venomous, like water snakes. Let’s find out more about them.


Water snakes vs moccasin snakes

As you might think, water snakes are found in North America and they spend most of their time in or near sources of water. Fortunately, water snakes are not poisonous! There is this confusion that they are venomous, and it all comes from the fact that they are much alike like the moccasin snakes, which are poisonous.

We will try to help you make the distinction between these two types of snakes so that is will be easier for you to tell them apart. We will start by saying that water snakes come from a different family than moccasins. While the first belong to the largest snake family called Colubridae, the latter belong to Viperidae, also known as vipers.

They have different physical characteristics and the best way to know which one is which is by paying attention to their necks and heads. If you notice that the snake has a blocky head and a thick body, you should protect yourself as these are features that define a moccasin. Also, moccasins have distinctive necks so that it will be easy for you to spot one.

Another way to identify them is to look for the heat-sensitive spots on their faces – you shouldn’t get too close as it can be very dangerous. When it comes to water snakes you should know that they don’t have heat-sensitive spots, their heads are round and narrow, and their body is on the slim side. Moreover, their neck is not nearly as distinctive as one of a moccasin.

Do water snakes make good pets?

People have diverse preferences and they like various things, and when it comes to getting a pet the situation is not different. While some people prefer rabbits and guinea pigs, there are people who prefer reptiles such as lizards or snakes. There are certain animals that make better pets than others, as well as animals that are not recommended to some individuals.

Water snakes, for example, can prove to be quite aggressive especially when they are handled. They can show offensive behavior, and sometimes they can even hiss or bite if they feel threatened. The problem with them is that they can be quite hostile at times, depending on how people nearby react.

This is not the case with all water snakes, but most of them are known to show this type of behavior which doesn’t make them very good pets. In their natural habitat water snakes have the ability to climb trees. This is what they usually do when they want to take a break and have some rest on the branches.

When they feel in danger, they will just drop down into the water in order to protect themselves. Moreover, these interesting creatures are active during the day, but there are times when they will hunt at night as well. If you were wondering what they will do during winter when the waters are frozen, you should know that they hibernate during the cold season.


What do water snakes eat?

It is only normal to ask yourself this question, as they live both in the water or near it. With this in mind, water snakes feed on fish, frogs, salamanders, and toads. When their body is not very long, they will mainly feed on slow-moving fish. But, once they grow long enough (about 1.5 feet or 45 cm), they will start to eat bigger animals.

However, a water snake’s diet consists primarily of fish. What is even more interesting about these snakes is that they will not kill their prey before eating it, and they will swallow it alive. Sometimes, if the waters are not too deep, they will just keep their mouth open and wait for the prey to come and they will catch it by closing their mouth very quickly.

Smart and interesting creatures one might say, especially since they are also able to find food by searching for it on the bottom of the river or the lake. They will not give up very easily, and they will look in every crevice or under rocks for potential prey that might be hiding. According to recent studies, there are several species of water snakes that can produce venom-like proteins.

It is believed that they are able to produce a type of protein that is an anticoagulant – when they bite their preys the blood will not coagulate and they will bleed a lot more. Large animals are affected very little by this protein, but it does have a great impact on smaller animals.

The effects of a venomous bite

As we have already mentioned, the water moccasins or cottonmouth snakes are venomous and their bite can be deadly. They can be found in the United States, and they mostly prefer damp environments such as swamps and marshes. Although many people see them as aggressive and dangerous creatures, they will usually become violent only when they are disturbed.

Moreover, they don’t like to be in places where people use to hang out as they are more solitary animals. They prefer to prey on small mammals, frogs or fish, and they will only bite a human when they have no other option. They don’t plan to bite big animals, they will only do it if they feel threatened and they want to protect themselves.

Furthermore, these types of snakes are very dangerous as they are pit vipers, just as rattlesnakes are. This means that their bite will prevent the blood from clotting, and most of the times their victims will just die from hemorrhages. A water moccasin bite is known to be extremely painful from the very beginning.

The victims will know for sure if they were bitten as they will start to feel the pain instantly. Also, they will also start having trouble breathing normally, they will feel numb, exhausted, nauseous and very thirsty. It is very important that they seek medical help right away and if the victim is a pet, he/she should be taken to the veterinary urgently.




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