Northern Water Snake


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 25, 2011
We have a creepy Northern Water Snake lurking around our lake. Every time I take my nine day old duckling out to visit the lake, here comes that snake! I know he isn't poisonous, but would he bite my mallard? Should I let him stay in the water when the snake is around? I'm afraid he'll peck at him just checking him out and get bitten.
A snake will do more than just bite a 9 day old duckling, it will eat it. I don't know what mode of death this type of snake would use -- I know it's not venomous, but it could either be a constrictor type snake or more likely just a biting type snake that would possibly even drag it underwater to drown it.

DEFINITELY keep the duck far, far away from any snakes until at least fully grown.
Thank you. That's what I was afraid of..this snake trying to make a meal out of my duck.. I'll keep watching him like a hawk!
Oh goodness, I know I am weird but I ADORE northern water snakes. And you are right, they are not venomous, but they can be bitey if you try and catch them (and their defense musk is a million times worse than that of a garter snake YUCK!).

However, an adult northern water snake will definitely eat a duckling. Their preferred prey are fish, frogs, and invertebrates, but will take small birds and mammals if available. And since an adult can get quite large, a duckling would be easy pickings. It could not kill an adult duck, fyi. You have several options, protect the duckling and let the snake go about its way. Kill the snake (and it will likely be replaced shortly). Or, relocate the snake (and it will also likely be replaced). Nature abhors a vacuum, if there is a suitable niche to live in, they will move in.
I would love nothing more than to KILL IT. I have a hoe out there and try to hit it, but thus far have been unsuccessful.
IT was out there first thing this morning while Marshall was up on the edge of the lake eating. I know it is coming around because of my duckling. Any helpful hints on killing would be greatly appreciated!
Honestly, please don't kill it. All of these reptiles are in varying degrees of trouble due to habitat loss.

Maybe you could capture it and relocated it, instead. Try using a big pillow case. If you do, take it at least 4-5 miles away, and release into a similar habitat.
Is there a little pool that you can set up for your duckling until it gets bigger?

Even if you kill this snake, there may be others around. And, there may be other predators, too, that you may not realize. At the lake I go to, there's gigantic bass that swallow ducklings whole.
Dogfish, bass, pike, walleye, muskies, channel cats, and even carp all will take ducklings if they have the opportunity.

I used to have a dogfish in my pond that would lurk just under the reeds and take sparrows as they came to drink. It got them almost daily when I was watching, so who knows how many it got when I wasn't watching. It was like a scene from 'Jaws'.
Please don't kill the snake. Also don't let it kill your duckling. Northern water snakes, and other predators, are a symptom of a healthy eco-system and also they help keep the eco-system in balance by eating small prey (reducing overpopulation), and they also scavenge, keeping our waters clean of decaying flesh. If you remove one predator from the system, something else will have to step in, and it may not be as healthy--disease may reduce population, wastes may just build up and unbalance the system, or another more aggressive predator may step in.

However, snakes WILL eat ducklings if they get a chance, so until your ducks are large enough to NOT be eaten by a snake, I'd recommend skipping the lake for now. There are MANY things in a lake that can eat a duckling, including large turtles, large fish, snakes (and if they're sneaky you won't even see them coming because they'll be underwater).

Once your duck is mature, he'll be too large to be harmed by a snake (and snakes won't bite something they can't kill unless they feel threatened--they'd much rather just make a quick escape and not risk injury to themselves) or the other little nasties that can swallow a duckling whole. Then it will be time to enjoy the lake!

Good luck!

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