We encountered a snake that everyone is telling us it looks like a water moccasin. We have pictures and wondered if it could have been. Thanks
Location: South Mastick Picnic Area, Rocky River Reservation
City of Fairview Park, OH
Good find, BUT you do not
have a water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus
). Even if the photo were blurry and in black & white, the shape of your snake's head is rounded, like that of a common waternsnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon
). This widely distributed and commonly found Ohio species can be identified using the faint, and fading with age, cross bands of brown and dark gray. There is high variability in its scale coloration. Habitat and other context is quite helpful. I could see mistaking a gray ratsnake (Pantherophis spiloides
) for the watersnake, but that's about it.
Now anything is possible, but the wild animals that often show up out-of-range are bird species. I say that because the water moccasin is not found this far north. Think Louisiana. Think Florida. I mentioned the head shape. The water moccasin, being venomous, sports a triangular-pointed head. That characteristic is a common field trait to distinguish venomous from nonvenomous snakes (e.g., constrictors).
The common watersnake is a stream-dwelling carnivore that preys mostly on small fish and amphibians, like frogs. It is not venomous or a constrictor. I usually say it kills by aggression. I speak from experience...don't try to catch this snake. Let me know if you'd like to know more about the animal. I always enjoy finding them. When I do, they’re normally basking on a downed tree limb across the Rocky River. Other times I'll even see them swimming!
Rocky River Nature Center