Gigantic water snake climbs onto family dock to sunbathe

Water snakes can grow to 1.5m (4.5 feet) in length. They are often confused with venomous rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. Snakes strike fear in the hearts of many, even though they are beneficial to our own existence. Perhaps it is the fear of the venomous snakes that could potentially cause us illness, or worse. Perhaps it is more rooted in the common fear of snakes that is the second most common fear in the world. It is helpful to at least understand which of the snakes pose a threat and which do not. Unprovoked attacks by snakes are rare and most of these are caused by an accidental close encounter that makes the snake react in self defence. Another common cause for mishap is when snakes are handled irresponsibly. This common northern water snake has similar markings as Massassauga rattlensnakes and cotton mouths. They are often mistaken for the more dangerous varieties. Water snakes swim beneath the water, able to hold their breath and completely submerge while hunting or moving in the water. Rattlesnakes keep their head above water when they swim. Watersnakes prey on fish, frogs, and other small animals along the shore. Although they can inflict a painful bite, they are not capable of seriously harming a human. Even the bite of a Massassauga rattlesnake, Canada's only venomous snake, is not powerful enough to cause life threatening symptoms for most humans. These snake make a loud buzzing sound when threatened and people and animals often have ample opportunity to avoid a regrettable encounter. Understanding snakes and their benefit to us is an important step in avoiding a problem with them, and preventing unfounded fear. Without them, rodent populations would go unchecked and we would have serious problems with parasites and other illness. Rodents are also an extreme problem for farmers, causing crop damage and increased costs.

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