That’s Not a Turtle!! Nerodia sipedon

So here I am, minding my own business as I paddle around a lake, when suddenly I see a swimming turtle! A cute, little tur…rrrrt.. Huh, that is a hellava long turtle. No. Effing. Way. It’s a SNAAAKE! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ I backed off so we didn’t have a sequel of Snakes on a Plane, with Snakes on a Kayak.

I wasn’t even in the Everglades or south of the equator, I was here in Central Illinois. I had no idea there were water snakes in the Midwest. With that being said, my best guess at his identity is a Nerodia sipedon or a Common Water Snake.

After watching this guy swim across the lake and to the grassy edge, I was mesmerized. How does he swim? He stopped many times, wondering what I was going to do. How did he stay afloat while stopped? I was fascinated. Fascinated enough that I let myself get within about 15 feet of him. I was clearly not thinking. I did not know the identity of this snake until I researched it (from the safety of my living room!) It could have possibly been a poisonous Water Moccasin! However, I only knew of one type of poisonous snake here in Illinois, the Timber Rattlesnake and they are pretty rare, nor are they swimmers.

I made sure not to corner him and figured as long as he had an escape route, he wouldn’t come at me. Glad he agreed with me!

This snake likes to bask in the daylight hours on rocks, vines and trees, where it freaks out passing kayakers… Although this species may occasionally forage during the day, they are usually more active at night. Activity levels of this species relates to the temperature of water and ambient temperature. They mate in spring, then in late summer, Mama Snake gives birth to 20-50 live young in late July or August. Mothers do not care for their young; as soon as they are born, it’s survival of the fittest.

Some quick Water Snake facts:

  • The water snake averages 22 to 36 inches in length.
  • Water snakes have many predators including birds, opossums, foxes,ย raccoons, turtles, other snakes and people.
  • Although they are solitary, aside from mating season, this snake will hibernate in dens with other snakes.
  • They are not poisonous, however if picked-up, they will bite, poop and to top it all off, shoot a pungent musk at you. Blech! You can be sure I’ll never find this out first hand!

After doing my research, I found many sites that explain the difference between the poisonous snakes from the innocent, Water Snake.



ยฉ Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl


25 thoughts on “That’s Not a Turtle!! Nerodia sipedon

  1. Snakes give me the willies. Don’t like any kind but I will let non-poisonous ones go their merry way. I have killed two rattlers which was years ago. Sure hope none are around now but my neighbor told me he saw a coral snake in their back yard which means that son-of a-gun is cawing around my property as well. I don’t go outdoors( rarely) at night but always have a flashlight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I respect all wildlife, however there’s a line I draw when the animal can kill me. When I moved to Florida, I had a bunch of brown recluse spiders in my pool house. Under normal conditions, I’d get them down with something and put them outside. Sorry. Not in this case. I called the exterminator. I don’t mind if they’re out in the wild and I come across them. But, if they’re in my space… well, I will be the last one standing!

      Liked by 1 person

Time to fire-up the chair-to-keyboard interface!!!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s