Northern Water Snake
Photo Credit: Caleb Jenks

Slithering and swimming into Wild thing Wednesday is the northern water snake.  As their name implies, they are rarely found far away from water, and feed mostly on fish and amphibians.  Their colorful patterning is easiest to recognize in younger snakes and will fade as they become older and larger.  Northern water snakes inhabit rivers and lakes statewide.  Although they do not often come into Horicon’s Marshy impoundments, they are able to be seen on all branches of the rock river.  Their scales are equipped with a large bump in the middle called a keel, which allows them to wrap parts of their bodies around rocks or logs to grip on while subduing prey.  These strong snakes are not venomous but are able to inflict very painful bites and are very defensive if cornered or threatened.  Unfortunately, many water snakes are killed in Wisconsin due to a resemblance to the venomous cottonmouth, which does not reside in Wisconsin.  Northern water snakes are easily startled and usually make a quick getaway when found, quickly disappearing under water and out of sight.  This behavior makes a northern water snake sighting an uncommon but memorable experience in any Horicon adventure.