Florida's Snakes thumbnail photo of snake identification guide cover

Northern or Midland Watersnake
(Nerodia sipedon)


blotch icon

Northern or Midland Watersnake

photo of northern watersnake showing reddish brown, checkerboard blotches on tan body--some blotches are fused into bands

 Photo by John Jensen. This photo may not be used without the express written permission of the photographer


Usually 2–4 ft (max. ~5 ft)


Body is tan to brown; back and sides are marked with square, brown-black blotches in an alternating, checkerboard-like pattern, with blotches toward the head often fused into bands. Belly is marked with a double row of thin, half-moon shapes. Scales have obvious lengthwise ridges (keels). This snake is similar in appearance to other watersnakes but is only found in the western panhandle of Florida, so be sure to check the range map for help with identification. Like most watersnakes, it is sometimes mistaken for the venomous Cottonmouth but is thinner and has round eye pupils. This snake gives birth to live young (does not lay eggs).


Found only in the western panhandle of Florida in freshwater habitats, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and marshes.


Fish, tadpoles, frogs, toads, salamanders

map showing that northern watersnakes are only found in the western panhandle of Florida

Map by Monica E. McGarrity - may be used freely for education.

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