Lake Erie Water Snake is a non-venomous Ohio snake


The Lake Erie water snake is similar to its relative, the Northern water snake, except that the dark pattern of cross-bands is very light or completely missing. Its color is usually gray, which often is greenish or brownish, and the dark markings can be found on the Northern Water Snake are greatly reduced or completely missing. The under-surface is uniformly white or yellowish white.

The snake can be a total length of 18 to 42 inches.


The Lake Erie water snake primarily eats non-game fish. Reportedly, the Lake Erie Water Snake avoids frogs, although it may still eat some from time to time.

Distribution And Habitat

In the summer, the Lake Erie water snake tends to spend time near the water’s edge basking on the shore or foraging just off shore.

Overwintering sites include natural and man-made structures in open and wooded areas. They are typically located within 75 yards of the shore in rocky substrates and are sometimes covered with soil, leaf litter, decaying wood, and grass.


This snake mates from late May to early June by forming “mating balls” consisting of one female and several males. Live birth averages a litter size of about 30 or so young and occurs in early September. Only about 15 percent of the young survive their first year.


The Lake Erie water snake was de-listed from the federal threatened and endangered species list in 2011 but it is still a threatened species within the state of Ohio. This snake has one of the smallest geographic ranges of any vertebrate in the world and is only found on the islands of Lake Erie.

When handled, the snake tends to respond defensively and may bite and release a foul odor.


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