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Free images of North American Snakes 

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Right click on any portion of the image showing and chose "save as". 

 


Learn more about snakes at the main snake page.

 

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

The Eastern Massasauga Rattlenake [Sistrurus catenatus catenatus] is a subspecies of the Massasauga Rattlesnake.  Its venom is toxic enough to kill an adult human.  This specimen was photographed in Northern Ontario.

 

coiled eastern massasauga rattlesnake

 Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake - 1
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Eastern Milk Snake

The Eastern Milk snake is not venomous.  If threatened, it assumes an aggressive behaviour.  It is often mistaken for a rattlesnake.  This specimen was photographed at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, south of Sudbury, Ontario.

 

eastern milk snake northern ontario in water at rock edge

Eastern Milk Snake - 1
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eastern milk snake swimming in water at rock edge

Eastern Milk Snake - 2
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Head of Eastern Milk Snake under log

Eastern Milk Snake - 3
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Northern Water Snake

Nerodia sipedon sipedon (or Natrix sipedon sipedon), commonly known as the Northern Water Snake or Common Watersnake, is a common water snake that bears live young.  It was part of the Colubridae family but has recently been placed in the Natricidae family.

This large snake is native to North America and is found in eastern and central North America from southern Ontario and Quebec in the north to Texas and Florida in the south.  This species of snake can grow up to over four feet in length.  Typical colouring is brown or dark brown, gray, reddish or brownish-black.  Darker horizontal banding can be seen on their backs and sides, necks and stripes and blotches on the rest of their body.  Younger snakes are grayish with distinct brown banding.  As they age, they become darker and the patterning can be barely seen.  They may become almost completely black.  The underside of this species may be tan, white, yellow or gray having brown crescent-shaped spots.  

The scales of this species are “keeled” which mean that they are ridged down the centre.  This gives the snake a shiny appearance.

 

northern water snake hiding in grass

Northern Water Snake - 1
Now you see him, now you don't!  The snake's colouring is great for camoflauge!
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This brown-coloured Northern Water Snake was photographed in the damp grass beside a Northern Ontario lake.  So well concealed, I nearly stepped on him!  

 

northern water snake ontario

Northern Water Snake - 2
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The Northern Water Snake is active during both the day and night.  The one photographed below was basking in the middle of a gravel road in the noon-day sun.  They can typically be spotted on rocks, tree stumps or in the brush.

The Northern Water Snake lives and hunts among the edges of water eating crayfish, fish, frogs, leeches, worms, small birds and mammals. It is an excellent swimmer and has been seen up to three metres below the surface of the water, several km from shore.

Although it is not venomous, if captured, this snake will vigorously defend itself.  It may release excrement (poop) and a bad smelling musk liquid and bite repeatedly inflicting painful wounds.   The saliva of this snake contains a mild anticoagulant which may cause its bite to bleed more – however, this poses little risk to humans.

Northern Water Snakes hibernate in underground dens, crevices or beaver lodges.

Female snakes develop their eggs within their bodies and give birth to live young in late summer or early autumn.  A clutch of young snakes about 18 cm in length may number around 10-20.  Maturity is reached in 3-4 years.  

This species is often confused with the Gray Ratsnake, Eastern Foxsnake , Milksnake, Eastern hog-nosed snake, Eastern Massasauga and Lake Erie Watersnake.

Thank you to Josh Vandermeulen for assistance in identifying the large black specimen.

 

Large dark Northern Water Snake in northern Ontario

Northern Water Snake - 3
A mature, very dark specimen in Northern Ontario.
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Nerodia sipedon large black Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake - 4
A mature, very dark specimen in Northern Ontario.
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Black dark Water Snake on gravel road

Northern Water Snake - 5
A mature, very dark specimen in Northern Ontario.
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Becoming frustrated with my approaching him and the multiple photographs I was taking, this Northern Water Snake decided to move into the grass beside the road where he lifted his head and continued to watch me until I left.  I left him alone - he didn't bite me - all in all good relationship!

 

Northern Water Snake in grass

Northern Water Snake - 6
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It's too far to identify the snake below, but there is no mistaking a trail left in the water by a swimming snake.  Although many snakes are called "water" snakes, all snakes can swim.  They do so by moving their body in sideway wave-like movements that resemble an "s".  With each "s" motion, the snake pushes the water behind him which in turn pushes the snake forward.  The snake above was photographed in Grundy Lake Provincial Park in Northern Ontario. 

 

snake swimming in middle of lake ontario

Swimming Snake - 1
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Northern Water snake in water

Northern Water Snake - 7
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Northern Water Snake beside rocks.

Can you spot him?    Northern Water Snake - 8
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Northern Water Snake beside rock cliffs.

Northern Water Snake - 9
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Pacific Rattlesnake

Croatalus oreganos is more commonly referred to as the Western, Northern Pacific or Pacific, Black, Arizona Diamond, and Black Diamond Rattlesnake to name only a few.  This venomous pit viper inhabits the Western United States and lives in Canada ’s only “desert” – an area between two mountain ridges in the Southern Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.  This rattlesnake is one of Canada ’s most endangered species.  

The Pacific Rattlesnake varies greatly in size.  Colouring is usually dark-brown, dark-gray, olive-brown or a black or pale yellow colour that is overlaid with patterned blotches with light edges.

Features of this stout snake are its distinct neck; broad, triangularly-shaped head; and the rattle at the end of its tail.  This snake has large eyes with vertical pupils.  Notice the deep pits between the nostrils and their eyes.  It is here in these pits that heat-sensing cells may be found.

 

Did you know...

that newborn rattlesnakes are fully venomous but don’t have a rattle?!

 

pacific rattlesnake Croatalus oreganos

Pacific Rattlesnake - 1
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Did you know...

That the rattle on a rattlesnake is formed when their skins shed?  Each time a rattler’s skin is shed, a new piece of hardened, loosely interlocking skin is added to the end of a modified scale at the tip of their tail called a “button”.  Each shedding creates a new segment of the rattle.

 

Colour banding of Pacific Rattlesnake

Pacific Rattlesnake - 2  Coloured banding.
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Brake for snakes road sign.

Snakes - 1
[Photographed in Northern Ontario]

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Please brake for snakes.

Snakes - 2
[Photographed in Northern Ontario]

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Slow down wildlife crossing sign

Reptile Crossing - 1
[Photographed in Northern Ontario @ French River]

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Wildlife crossing road sign snake turtle

Reptile Crossing 2
[Photographed in Northern Ontario @ French River]

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Remarkable
Reptiles !

In the Book "The lectures of Linnaeus concerning the Animal Kingdom", published about 100 years ago, Carl Linnaeus wrote in the beginning of his Chapter on Amphibia that animals in this Chapter are "the ugliest, most cruel and most poisoning".  He expressed that he was happy that our Creator put rather few of these animals into this class.  If there had been more, they would have hurt the other species.

Carl Linnaeus (1701-1778) was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist.  He is known as the father of taxonomy and the one who laid the foundations for our current biological naming scheme.

Did you know....

Reptiles breathe air!

Almost all reptiles lay shelled eggs!

 

Sensational 
Snakes !

 

 

 

 

 

Terrific Turtles !

 

 

 

Did you know...

The King Cobra is the largest venomous snake in the world.  It is 12 feet long! 

Frogs breathe with their lungs but also their skin!

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Alligators !

 

 

Did you know...

Reptiles have holes instead of ears!

Reptiles today live on every continent except Antarctica!

Most reptiles have a 3-chambered heart!

 

Be sure to check out all the reptile image categories !

 

 

 

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