Water snakes got their name because of their habitat. They usually live in the water and the environment around them. They are snakes with a number of special properties. For example, the birth of their offspring happens differently than with most reptiles. The water snake has different ways of catching prey. Among other things, it has a certain substance in its mucus to effectively detect injured fish and amphibians.
The Water Hose
The reptiles have obtained this name because they spend a large part of their lives in an aquatic environment. They can be found both in water and in trees. They hang from trees along the shore. The family name for the water snake is ‘Natricidae’. This consists of more than two hundred species. In the past (until 2013) they were wrongly included in the family of smooth snakes (‘Colubridae’).
Recognizing Water Snakes
Water snakes can be recognized by their pointed snout and bulbous eyes. Their streamlined body gives an advantage for locomotion in the water. Some examples are the grass snake and the dice snake. Some specimens are camouflaged so that they do not stand out.
The Birth Of Offspring
Some of these water snake species have the ability to give birth to their offspring without laying eggs. The eggs hatch when they are still in the mother’s body. This is a unique feature not normally found in reptiles. Reptiles such as snakes are known for laying eggs. The youngsters have a length of 20 to about 30 centimeters.
The Hunt For Prey
The water snake preys on a variety of predators. He usually goes looking for small and slow fish. These fish are mainly found in shallow water (source: Linzey & Clifford, 2002). In addition, the reptile eats amphibians. These can be salamanders as well as frogs and tadpoles that are usually also in shallow water. The predator eats its prey alive. It does this by waiting with an open mouth until its prey swims past its mouth. In other cases, it actively searches for its prey.
The Search For Prey
When its prey is merely wounded, the water snake’s saliva keeps its blood from clotting. As a result, the prey animal leaves a trail of blood that the water snake can track down. The water snake is also known to explore crevices between rocks to discover prey. Many prey animals hide between the rocks for their safety (source: Drummond, 1983).
These snakes, like other snakes, have sharp (canine) teeth so that it has the ability to effectively hunt their prey. Water snakes can be very aggressive. When these reptiles feel threatened, the animals around them bite.
The reptiles drop from a branch at times when they are disturbed by something or someone. In some situations, they fall into a passing boat. In such situations, care must be taken not to be bitten.
Water snakes are generally non-venomous. However, many water snakes are often mistaken for a specific type of snake, namely the ‘water moccasin’ or ‘cottonmouth’. This is a snake species that is venomous and has more of a triangle-like head. The head of a water snake, however, has a more convex shape. However, some specimens have very thin heads. The water snake also has convex eyes while the water moccasin does not. Specimens belonging to northern water snakes also sometimes resemble rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes are very poisonous and therefore life-threatening.
This snake species is smaller and thinner than strangler snakes. Because of this, they do not have the ability to strangle their prey. Water snakes are usually about a meter long, while strangler snakes often grow to several meters long. Water snakes, because they are non-venomous and cannot strangle, are generally harmless to humans.