Water Snakes – Non-Venomous
Inside the Outdoors, July 22
, 2011

Before I get into my column this week, I want to congratulate Latrobe’s Mark Ludwig for catching a 15 ½ inch largemouth bass from Keystone State Park Lake recently. Using a plastic worm, he was able to skillfully land it and released it just as quickly as he brought it in. It was surely a beaut!

Word has it that other lakes are producing as well. I was pleased to see that some pretty nice fish are being taken at Acme Dam, which really isn’t that far from Latrobe. A friend and I used to fish it quite a bit. My friend Mike died a year ago. Since then, I haven’t been back.

As usual, anglers at Yellow Creek are tagging onto some nice-sized pike.

The talk about Twin Lakes Park is centered around the Greensburg gent who hauled in a 33 ½ inch catfish on the lower lake. A fellow showed me a picture he had captured on his mobile phone of the man holding it and his cherished position. Unfortunately, no one knew the fellow’s name.

That turtle that was in question in my last column was a red-eared slider. It is said to be the most popular pet turtle in the United States, and as far as that goes, the rest of the world. It has become established in unsuspecting places because of the pet releases.

The one thing about the sport of fishing, one never knows what he is going to observe while waiting for a fish to latch onto his bait.

For example, while fishing at Keystone State Park Lake, I look to my left to see a water snake coming my way. They are not poisonous and should not be considered dangerous. As I see it, I am standing in their living room, and they are going about their business as we would be doing if we were doing what we have to do in our homes.

Many times over the years, I have heard the rumor that it is dangerous to walk Creekside Trail because of all the poisonous lakes. Not only have I never seen them, I can only presuppose they, too, have to be Water Snakes, traversing from one body of water to another.

Water Snakes belong to a family of non-venomous colubrid snakes found in North America. In the southeastern US of A, Water Snakes are among the most abundant and most often encountered reptiles. Although they are not venomous they will defend themselves and bite if threatened. They are known to display aggressive behavior.

They can climb trees and often are found resting on branches above the water. When disturbed, they will drop in the water – sometimes into boats passing by.

The saliva of the Northern Water Snake contains a compound inhibiting the coagulation of blood – so a bite from a water snake can cause some bleeding. However, they are not lethal in any way. They have scent glands near the base of their tails from which they can excrete an ill smelling musk.

Their diet consists of small fish and other animals in the shallow water. They eat fish, reptiles, frogs, worms, small birds and mammals. All Water Snakes eat their prey alive. Until Water Snakes reach a certain size, their main prey is small fish and other small animals found in the water.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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