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Lake Erie Water Snake <image courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife>

  • Adult body length: 18 - 42 inches
  • Length at birth: 8 - 12+ inches
  • Breeding period: late spring - early summer
  • Young per year: probably 10 to 25 or 30
  • Typical foods: mainly fish, including dead or dying individuals; reportedly the Lake Erie Water Snake avoids frogs, although it may eat some.
  • This snake interbreeds with the Northern Water Snake producing what are called intergrades, individuals that show characteristics of both snakes.


The Lake Erie Water Snake is large, heavy bodied, and more uniform in color than its close relative the Northern Water Snake. Its ground color is usually gray, which often is greenish or brownish, and the dark markings that one sees on the Northern Water Snake are greatly reduced or completely lacking. The undersurface is uniformly white or yellowish white.

Overall Range
The islands of western Lake Erie, in Ontario, Ohio, and perhaps Michigan.
Range in Ohio
The islands of western Lake Erie. Nearby Pelee Island in Ontario is the place where the original specimen of this subspecies was found, what specialists call its "type locality.”"
Lake Erie Water Snake Ohio Map

Local Habitat
Cliffs, ledges and loose rock around edges of the islands.


As with the Northern Water Snake this snake favors basking in sunshine on surfaces near the water's edge. Sometimes they hide under rocks. Lake Erie Water Snakes are accomplished swimmers. When fleeing pursuit they often swim at the surface, but sometimes dive to the bottom and hide under rocks. These snakes also are accomplished biters and will defend themselves vigorously both on land and under water.


ODNR, Division of Wildlife, "Species A-Z Guide"

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Lake Erie Water Snake Fact Sheet

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The Ohio Historical Society (OHS)
Date of last revision: 08/24/2007
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