The midland water snake is a common species of non-venomous snake found throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada. It is a member of the Nerodia genus of water snakes, which includes several other similar species that are often confused with the midland water snake.
The midland water snake is a medium-sized snake, typically growing to lengths of 2 to 3 feet (60-90cm), although larger specimens have been documented. They have a thick, muscular body and a relatively short tail. The coloration and patterning of the midland water snake can vary quite a bit, but they typically have brown or reddish-brown backs and brick-red bellies. They have dark-colored crossbands on their backs that may be broken or irregular in shape. Unlike many other water snakes, the midland water snake lacks the distinctive black-and-white chin straps that are so common in this group.
The midland water snake is typically found near bodies of water, such as streams, ponds, marshes, and swamps. They are also known to frequent drainage ditches and irrigation canals. The midland water snake is not a particularly good swimmer, so they are most often found on land or in shallow water where they can easily maintain contact with the bottom. They are common across much of the eastern half of the United States and Canada, from the Great Lakes region down to the Gulf of Mexico. They are often found in areas where other water snakes are also present, but can be distinguished by their lack of chin stripes.
The midland water snake is primarily diurnal (active during the day) and feeds on a variety of prey, including fish, amphibians, and invertebrates. They are not particularly aggressive, but will defend themselves if threatened. When threatened, a midland water snake will often flatten its body and head, puffing up its neck region to appear larger and more intimidating. They are also known to release a foul-smelling secretion from their anal glands as a defensive measure. Fortunately, their bite is not venomous, and they are generally harmless to humans.
The midland water snake is an interesting and common species that is often encountered in habitat conditions similar to other North American water snakes. Their lack of black-and-white chin straps and relatively short tail are key identifying features that can help distinguish them from other closely related species. Despite their reputation as a harmless species, it is important to remember that all snakes should be treated with respect and caution, as they are wild animals that are capable of inflicting injury if provoked or mishandled.