Lake Erie Watersnake

lake erie watersnake
lake erie watersnake

Lake Erie Watersnake: Names

Common Watersnake Name

The common name for this water snake is Lake Erie Watersnake. Both water snake and watersnake are acceptable spellings.

Scientific Name for the Lake Erie Watersnake

Nerodia sipedon insularum

Where can Lake Erie Water Snakes be Found?

These watersnakes are found around the islands of Lake Erie’s western basin. They can often be seen swimming or lounging on a dock around the rocky shorelines. They often make their way onto boat swim platforms to bake in the sun. These snakes are often found in groups, if you see one there are probably more around. The Lake Erie watersnake is classified as being more than one mile from shore (mainland). This subspecies of snake can only be found around the Lake Erie islands.

Watersnake Coloration and Patterns

This watersnake has similar patterns to the common watersnake. However, the patterns are less pronounced. This water snake has a solid back and solid underside. The common watersnake has more patterns to it than this one. This was first discovered in the 1930’s by a scientist. Lake Erie watersnakes have variations in patterns from one to another. This makes it difficult to identify the snake based on looks alone. In this modern day, scientists describe the watersnake as being banded, unbanded, or intermediate.

Habitat of the Lake Erie Watersnake

The habitat of this subspecies is straightforward. In the summer months, they can be found hanging around the rocky shorelines and in the water around the western basin islands of Lake Erie. The rocky shorelines give the snake an area to shelter, mate, and give birth. The snakes will often be seen hanging around structures such as docks. When you see a snake in the water they are most likely hunting for food or a mate. The main diet of a Lake Erie watersnake is the round goby, found in all waters of Lake Erie. When swimming, the snake usually stays close to shore. These snakes are found on 15 different islands around the western basin, including the Marblehead Peninsula. In the winter, this snake travels inland on the islands to hibernate. This snake has been seen hibernating with other species of snakes in the winter.

Watersnake Conservation

This watersnake was once listed as federally endangered and state endangered. Some of this was due to human interactions, such as building. This drove the Lake Erie watersnake out of its habitat. Conservation efforts such as habitat management and studies lead to the rise of the snake population. The snake was eventually removed from the federally endangered list but remains on the state endangered list for Ohio.