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Old May 16th, 2014 #213
Alex Linder
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 45,375
Blog Entries: 34
Alex Linder

What's that big snake in the bushes at Onondaga Lake? Ask the Outdoors Guy

Liverpool, N.Y. -- Linda Church, of Marietta, spotted this nearly four-foot long snake recently in the bushes on the shore of Onondaga Lake.

She likes and respects nature and wildlife, she said. She wanted to know what kind of snake it was.

"Given all the emotions so many people have around the topic of snakes (self included), I would not want to scare people so they don't want to let their kids near the lake, of have people prepared to kill them if they see them," she said.

I sent the photo to the state Department of Environmental Conservation's Cortland office. Their opinion?

"It's a (northern) water snake," I was told by the DEC staff. It's one of the most common snakes found along waterways. It's non-venomous.

I did a little research and found these snakes, which can grow up to more than 4 feet long, are often mistaken for other poisonous snakes, such as water moccasins.

Water snakes are dark-colored brown, tan or gray, with a series of square blotches alternating with each other that may merge to form bands. When the adult snakes are dry they may appear to be dark brown or black in color, according to a University of Michigan website.

They're carnivores and scavengers. Water snakes eat amphibians (frogs and tadpoles), fish (dead or alive), crayfish, large insects, other snakes, turtles, birds and small mammals, such as white- footed mice.

Church said she spotted it near the Butterfly Garden of Hope Gazebo.

"I noticed a family with two young boys fishing at the lake edge. I walked around the gazebo," she said. "When I returned to my car, the parents had backed away from the lake, the father had put the boys behind him and all were very focused on a bush.

"I finally realized what they were looking at. They decided they had had enough fishing and left shortly after."

Church said she got close to the snake with her iPod and snapped the picture. "I would guess it was between 3 to 4 feet long, but I decided not to try to get it to stretch out," she said.

That was probably a good thing. Although they're not venomous, water snakes will not hesitate to bite and should always be treated with respect.

Have a question about wildlife, fish, the outdoors in general? Ask me, the Outdoors Guy. Send your questions to [email protected]. If I don't have the answer, I'll find someone who does.


This past Sunday, I met a black water snake that dropped from a tree branch I was clipping at water's edge this weekend. I had tall waders on. I first saw the snake when it was near and above my face. It was dropping vertically toward the opening at the top of my waders.

I screamed like a girl and, startled, fell into the water. My concern as I dropped into the water was that I was falling onto one of his friends -- or that he was going to swim over and finish the job. He had landed very nearby. I knew they were non-venomous and I would just bleed out -- but that was small comfort.


goodgodalmighty 3 days ago
So what's it doing in a tree if it's a water snake? and why the heck doesn't Cuomo and his bud"s pass a law TONIGHT that says "all water snakes must stay in the water or face a stiff fine and a $93.00 dollar sur- charge.

jesus ii. some of these people really are "too gay to function"