These non-poisonous snakes are commonly mistaken for the deadly copperhead snake. Copperheads have a different patterning and different shaped heads. The northern water snake can grow up to 4.4 feet in total length. They can be brown, gray, reddish, or brownish-black. They have dark crossbands on their necks and dark stripes and blotches on the rest of their bodies. They darken as they age. Some will become almost completely black. The belly of this snake also varies in color. It can be white, yellow, or gray. Usually it also has reddish or black crescents.
Found near freshwater, during the day, they hunt among plants at the water's edge. They are most often seen basking on rocks, stumps, or brush.