Northern Water Snake
Snakes are a vital component to our ecosystems and the northern water snake is no different. They primarily control the rodent populations from over exploding. They also feed on small and diseased fish that if left unchecked could create overpopulations and problems to the ecosystem. Snakes are a mid level part of the ecosystem, meaning they are also hunted. Raccoons, foxes, owls, eagles, are some of the animals that feed on the northern water snake. The northern water snake can defend itself by escaping to the water, where it can stay submerged for long periods of time.
The northern water snake is a difficult species to identify. Their color patterns change, and oftentimes they are covered with earthy debris. Commonly, the northern water snake is often mistaken for the water moccasin or cottonmouth. The water moccasin is venomous, where the northern water snake is harmless.
Northern water snakes grow to be about 24 to 55 inches. They are medium sized to large snakes, with heavy bodies. The northern water snake, similar to a pit viper, gives live birth; meaning they incubate their eggs in their bodies, and then hatch live snakes. They can hatch 9 to 45 young in a year.
Did You Know?
Over one million visitors come to New River Gorge National River each year. Park rangers assist visitors and help them better understand the park and the park resources.