Image courtesy of Cap'n Jack

Message From the Cap’n/What You Need to Know About Water Snakes

Message From the Cap’n is a compilation of history, fishing advice, waterman and weather insights, Chesapeake lore, and ordinary malarkey from the folks who keep their feet wet in the Potomac and St. Mary’s rivers.

This week’s highlight: Water Snakes!

A water snake might make you hurt yourself when surprised by them but they are not harmful nor poisonous, although they may bite as a defensive tactic.

The northern water snake grows to be two to four feet long. The record length is 55 1/8 inches.

watter snake
Common Watersnake, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith

They have a highly variable color and pattern and may be tan, gray, reddish, or brownish-black. Older snakes are darker, often without a clear pattern. Dark crossbands appear on their necks and forefront of their bodies; the dark bands are wider than the lighter-colored spaces between them.

Alternating dark blotches appear on their back and sides on the lower half of their body, and half-moon-shaped spots appear on their belly. They have a double row of scales under their tail. Northern water snakes also have round pupils.  They thrive in brackish water up to 12 ppt ( parts per thousand).

Another type of watersnake found in Maryland is the Plain-bellied water snake. Their habitat is on the Eastern Shore where they may be locally common but is rarely seen.

Photo of Plain-bellied Watersnake courtesy of Dave Wilson

Check it out: the Interpretive Buoy System provides updates daily about temperature and salinity conditions throughout the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. …


It’s Our Bay, Let’s Pass It On.

Till next time,

Cap’n Jack; 240-434-1385

To learn about tours and trips into the Chesapeake, get more information on Fins + Claws’ Leader Member Page. Visit Fins + Claws on Facebook and please share with your social media sites.

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