Snake Mate

Top Photo: Northern water snake among rushes in wetlands.

I’ve been monitoring a female northern water snake since first discovering it in our wetlands in late May. There’s nothing unusual about water snakes in the wetland but this snake’s had a problem either with it respiration or jaw alignment. It keeps opening and closing its mouth and moving the mandible from side to side. This is abnormal behavior.

Today (6.9.23) I witnessed a smaller male water snake attempt to mate with the larger female. I wasn’t able to determine whether the snakes were successful in their attempt. I was, however, able to get a few photos of the process.

Smaller male attempts to mate with female (heads are off to left).
Female’s head.
Smaller male (reddish tint to skin).
Male clings to larger female.

Northern water snakes are viviparous. If the male snake above was successful, and if whatever it is that’s wrong with the female doesn’t render it physically incapable of doing so, she should give birth to 9 – 45 young later this summer. Gestation is about 58 days.

Northern water snakes are not tolerant of harassment. They’re non-venomous, but I wouldn’t want to be bitten by one.

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