Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...well OK fine, just try to be the holder of this snake. Can you say Ophidophobia, I can. This snake is an obnoxious river dweller and slithers thought weeds and rocks along Michigan's waterways. It eats most things living in the water, small birds, fish, frogs, crayfish among other things. It is very bold and a real fighter. It is big and can reach over Four feet long and four inches in circumference. The water snake can resemble a Rattle snake, Cotton Mouth, or Water Moccasin, yet unlike these poisonous snakes he is supposed to be harmless. Their coloration and pattern can be the like the Diamond Back Rattle snake or very dark like the Cotton Mouth. The upside is, here in Northern Michigan we have no poisonous snakes...so if you see that distinct pattern it is a Northern Water Snake.
They are not rare, but they are sneaky. The best chance of seeing one is to catch it sunning itself on warm rocks along the river. I usually have to do a double take before I realize it is a snake, and he is looking right at me. If it senses you or you make a move toward it, the snake will make a move way from you. If you close the distance moving after him, it will turn and fight. Snap and lunge at you repeatedly. They can go subsurface in the water adding to their elusiveness. I have found, standing still and slapping the water with my rod will make him move away. Northern Michigan's species is generally darker unless it has just molted or shed his skin. It has been my observation, for you snake lovers, this species does not make a good pet!
My favorite Water Snake Story...a Father and Son were fishing in a small lake here in Northern Michigan. At the end of the trip they pulled their small aluminum boat ashore and began to unload it. When they pulled up the stringer of Blue Gill a Water snake was attached to one of the fish. When the snake refused to let go a confrontation as to who was the true owner of the fish ensued. The Son told me he watched as his Father and the snake fought it out...it was nip & tuck for a while but the Father won the fight...barely !
Sweet Is The Lore That Nature Brings