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Northern Water Snakes Courting & Mating

9-19-19 mating water snakes by Jeff Mazur IMG_9688 (002)Northern Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon) are non-poisonous snakes which, as their name implies, tend to be found in the Northeast, in and around water. Females (bottom snake in photo) are heavier and longer than males (as long as five feet) and grow much faster. Since the end of May, Northern Water Snakes have been engaging in courtship rituals and mating. The male snake (top snake in photo) begins by crawling alongside a female while he rubs his body along hers. It is not unusual for more than one male to court her at the same time, with one eventually achieving copulation by twisting and coiling his tail around her body and tail as he attempts to get their cloacae aligned.

Northern Water Snakes are ovoviviparous – the female’s eggs incubate inside her body. The larger the female, the greater the number of live young she’s likely to produce in late August or September. Northern Water Snakes have between 12 and 60 young — judging from the size of the pictured female she’ll have a large litter. (Photo by Jeff Mazur)

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4 responses

  1. Bill On The Hill

    Great shot of opportunity Mary… Typically they are blacker than black from my experiences with them. I think the colorations on the smaller male is what makes this such a compelling image. The patterns look eerily similar to a copperhead snake the way the sun is hitting them… I have caught copperheads in my day as they are a poisonous snake with that distinctive diamond shaped head…
    Many years ago, I had a eastern diamondback rattler for a short while also… That snake can kill you if it bites you & if the wound is left unattended long enough, gangrene can set in…
    Bill… :~)

    June 17, 2019 at 7:58 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    And after the babies are born, dus the mother expel the shells, or does the calcium somehow get reabsorbed in her body?

    June 17, 2019 at 8:54 am

  3. Excellent question, Alice, and I truly don’t know the answer but suspect absorption?

    June 17, 2019 at 9:09 am

  4. cdhd2017

    Yup just captured this similar image around our hometown lake. Both were grey black in color. Here in Northeast Ohio.

    June 17, 2019 at 11:21 am

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