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Creature of the Week: Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon)
Despite their large size, northern watersnakes are not venomous; however, when picked up, they are known to bite repeatedly and, therefore, should be admired using a "look but don't touch" approach.
They have keeled scales and can possess a very thick body, so it's easy to mistake one for a venomous eastern cottonmouth. For safety, it's best to make this assumption first, but if you can see its head without getting too close, you will instantly recognize this harmless snake.
Spade-shaped head of the harmless northern watersnake
Young northern watersnakes do not have the spade-shaped head of adults. Their heads are more rounded like those of a "typical" snake.
So, the next time you venture into an area near water...
...you might just encounter a northern watersnake.
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