Northern Watersnakes are fairly dark-colored snakes and may be brown, tan or grayish. The coloration is much more vivid in young and wet specimens. Their back and sides have a series of square blotches that alternate and may merge to form bands. Their scales are keeled and the anal plate is divided. Adult females tend to be larger than adult males.
This species is often confused with the venomous Cottonmouth, but Cottonmouths have bands instead of blotches and their distribution is generally restricted to the extreme southeast Cherokee County.
Largly confined to the riparian areas of the state. However, it is commonly found in ponds, especially around the eastern half of the state.
Any populations that existed along the Arkansas River as it enters the state from Colorado may no longer be extant, as until recently, it has been dry.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences)
Allen (15), Anderson (46), Atchison (5), Barber (3), Barton (3), Bourbon (20), Brown (33), Butler (11), Chase (501), Chautauqua (1), Cherokee (17), Cheyenne (1), Clay (1), Cloud (2), Coffey (1), Comanche (1), Cowley (38), Crawford (3), Dickinson (5), Doniphan (43), Douglas (186), Elk (22), Ellis (43), Ellsworth (2), Finney (2), Ford (3), Franklin (53), Geary (7), Gove (1), Graham (1), Gray (2), Greenwood (48), Hamilton (2), Harvey (3), Hodgeman (3), Jackson (3), Jefferson (11), Johnson (19), Kingman (3), Kiowa (6), Labette (4), Leavenworth (5), Linn (17), Lyon (41), Marion (5), Marshall (5), McPherson (13), Miami (20), Mitchell (1), Montgomery (11), Morris (1), Nemaha (3), Neosho (2), Ness (1), Norton (3), Osage (27), Ottawa (2), Pawnee (1), Pottawatomie (7), Pratt (5), Reno (1), Riley (72), Rooks (3), Russell (7), Saline (7), Scott (5), Sedgwick (1), Shawnee (8), Sheridan (2), Stafford (1), Sumner (1), Trego (11), Wabaunsee (5), Washington (4), Wilson (7), Woodson (5), Wyandotte (4)
Northern watersnakes are live-bearers and breed April June. They primarily feed on amphibians and fish and are often seen basking on banks of rivers or ponds or on branches overhanging the water.
They are often seen basking on banks of rivers or ponds or on branches overhanging the water.
They primarily feed on amphibians and fish.
Growth and Longevity:
Northern watersnakes range in size from 24 to 55 in (61-140 cm).
Pleistocene fossil specimens are known from Meade, Rice, McPherson, and Jewell counties.
Not a target species for this project. However, all records will be kept.
1758. Linneaus, Carl. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. 10th Edition, Volume 1, L. Salvius, Stockholm. Pp. iv + 826.
1950. Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication. Number 2: pp. 336.
1974. Collins, Joseph T.. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series. (1): pp. 283 pp.
1982. Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas, 2nd Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. Pp. 356.
1993. Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. Pp. 397.
2010. Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas. Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. Pp. 400.