2 Types of WATER Snakes Found in Quebec! (2023)

What kinds of water snakes can you find in Quebec?

water snakes in Quebec

Is it just me, or do you also find water snakes fascinating? There’s something about the way they move across the water that is incredibly interesting. Whenever I am near a pond, marsh, or other body of water, I make sure to look for any water snakes moving about.

Today, you are going to learn about 2 water snakes that live in Quebec.

The species below are considered either aquatic or semi-aquatic, which means that it’s very likely that you will see them actively swimming or extremely close to water, such as sunning themselves on a bank.


#1. Northern Water Snake

  • Nerodia sipedon sipedon

water snakes in Vermont

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 55 inches in length.
  • Coloration is pale grey to dark brown with reddish-brown to black bands.
  • Large adults become darker with age and appear almost plain black or dark brown.
  • Females tend to be larger than males, and coloration is most vivid in juvenile and wet individuals.

This water snake can be found in southern Quebec!

Northern Watersnakes prefer slow-moving or standing water such as ponds, lakes, vernal pools, marshes, and slow-moving rivers and streams. They’re most often seen basking on rocks or logs in or near the water.

Common Watersnake Range Map (Northern Water Snakes are a subspecies)

common watersnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

These water snakes primarily feed on fish and amphibians by hunting during the day along the water’s edge and shallow water. They grab their prey and quickly swallow while it’s still alive!

When disturbed, Northern Watersnakes flee into the water to escape. However, if grabbed or captured, they’re quick to defend themselves. They will release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tale, flatten their body, and strike the attacker.

While non-venomous, they can deliver a painful bite!

Their saliva contains a mild anticoagulant that can cause bites to bleed, making the injury appear worse. These important defense mechanisms help water snakes survive predators such as raccoons, snapping turtles, foxes, opossums, other snakes, and birds of prey.


#2. Eastern Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

eastern garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 18 to 26 inches in length.
  • Coloration varies and can be mixtures of green, brown, or black. Look for a distinct yellow or whitish stripe down the center of their back.
  • Some individuals may exhibit a checkered body pattern.
  • Subspecies of the Common Garter Snake.

Look for these snakes in western and southern Quebec, basking in the sun in grassy areas near freshwater.

In fact, they are typically the snake species that people come across the most. They’re well-adapted to living around people and can often be found in city parks, farmland, cemeteries, and suburban lawns and gardens. Though not required, they prefer grassy environments near freshwater sources such as ponds, marshes, lakes, ditches, and streams.

eastern garter snake range map

Eastern Garter Snakes protect themselves when they are cornered or feel threatened. For example, if you capture or continually disturb one, it will defecate and release a foul-smelling musk from its glands. It’s also common for them to bite as a last resort!

The Eastern Garter Snake most commonly preys on toads, frogs, slugs, salamanders, fish, and worms. However, they are very opportunistic and will eat other insects and small animals they can overpower. They’re active during both the day and night, depending on the temperature.


Do you need additional help identifying a water snake in Quebec?

Try this field guide!


Which of these water snakes have you seen in Quebec?

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