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Nerodia sipedon (LINNAEUS, 1758)

IUCN Red List - Nerodia sipedon - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesNerodia sipedon insularum (CONANT & CLAY 1937)
Nerodia sipedon pleuralis (COPE 1892)
Nerodia sipedon sipedon (LINNAEUS 1758)
Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi (CONANT & LAZELL 1973) 
Common NamesE: Northern Water Snake
insularum: Lake Erie Water Snake
pleuralis: Midland Water Snake
sipedon: Northern Water Snake
williamengelsi: Carolina Water Snake
G: Siegel-Ringelnatter, Siegelringnatter 
SynonymColuber Sipedon LINNAEUS 1758: 219
Tropidonotus sipedon — HOLBROOK 1852: 569
Nerodia sipedon — BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
Nerodia agassizii BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 41
Tropidonotus sepedon — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 568
Tropidonotus sipedon — GARMAN 1884: 25
Tropidonotus sipedon — YOUNG 1887: 121
Tropidonotus sipedon — HEILPRIN & YOUNG 1887: 320
Natrix fasciata sipedon — MCATEE 1907
Natrix sipedon — DUNN 1915
Natrix sipedon — GRANT 1937
Natrix sipedon — CLAY 1938
Nerodia sipedon — STEBBINS 1985: 197
Nerodia sipedon pleuralis — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 153
Nerodia sipedon — CROTHER 2000: 67
Nerodia sipedon — CROTHER et al. 2012
Nerodia sipedon — WALLACH et al. 2014: 485

Nerodia sipedon insularum (CONANT & CLAY, 1937)
Nerodia sipedon insularum — MEHRTENS 1987: 159
Nerodia sipedon insularum — CROTHER 2000: 67
Nerodia sipedon insularum — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 129
Nerodia sipedon insularum — CROTHER et al. 2012
Nerodia sipedon insularum — KING et al. 2018

Nerodia sipedon pleuralis (COPE, 1892)
Nerodia sipedon pleuralis — CROTHER 2000: 67
Nerodia sipedon pleuralis — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 131
Nerodia sipedon pleuralis — CROTHER et al. 2012
Nerodia sipedon pleuralis — SCOTT et al. 2012
Nerodia sipedon pleuralis — GUYER et al. 2018

Nerodia sipedon sipedon (LINNAEUS, 1758)
Nerodia sipedon sipedon — CROTHER 2000: 67
Nerodia sipedon sipedon — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 127
Nerodia sipedon sipedon — CROTHER et al. 2012

Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi (CONANT & LAZELL, 1973)
Natrix sipedon williamengelsi CONANT & LAZELL 1973
Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi — PALMER & BRASWELL 1995
Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi — CROTHER 2000: 67
Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 133
Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi — CROTHER et al. 2012 
DistributionSE Canada (Ontario, Quebec),
USA (E Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, E/N Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, SE Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, SE Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, N Georgia, NW Florida, NW South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, S Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan),

insularum: USA, Canada (western Lake Erie islands, incl.Pelee); Type locality: Canada, Ontario, Lake Erie, Pelee Island.

pleuralis: USA (Florida, South Carolina, N Texas); Type locality: “probably Summerville, South Carolina” [CLAY 1938: 278].

williamengelsi: USA (North Carolina)

Type locality: “America septentrionali”  
TypesType: nondesignated, present location unknown (P. Kalm, Sept. 1748-Feb. 1751) (fide V. Wallach, pers. comm.)
Holotype: UMMZ 80457 [insularum]
Lectotype: USNM 1080 [pleuralis]
Holotype: MCZ 129298 [williamengelsi]
Holotype: USNM 1350 [Nerodia agassizii] 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS (insularum): In size and scutellation this snake is similar to N. s. sipedon from which it is readily distinguished by the almost complete absence of a color pattern. The back is nearly or quite uniformly grey, the belly cream white. Intermediate specimens are common. N. s. insularum may be distinguished from N. e. erythrogaster by the duskiness of the subcaudals of the former (those of erythrogasterbeing im. maculate, especially near the tip of the tail), and by the grey dorsal coloration (that of erythrogaster being reddish-brownto black) [CLAY 1938: 178].

DIAGNOSIS (sipedon): This common snake is likely to be confused with only N. s. pleuralis, N. erythrogaster transversa, or young N. e. erythrogaster. The differences between sipedon sipedon and these snakes are discussed in the diagnoses of these forms [CLAY 1938: 178].

DIAGNOSIS (pleuralis): N. s. pleuralis is likely to be confused only with N. s. sipe- don or N. s. fasciata. It is more readily distinguished from the latter than from the former. Although typical pleuralis and typical sipedon are decidedly differentand may be differentiatedat a glance, the transition is very gradual in the region of the Mississippi Valley, where many intermediate specimens occur. The most striking feature of pleuralis is its more widely spaced dorsal and lateral bars upon a relatively lighter ground color. The belly bears crescent-shaped marks similar to those of sipedon but these tend to be more definitely in two rows, usually are redder, and remain more distinct in old individuals, whereas those of sipedon frequently break down into flecks and mottling. N. s. pleuralis usually has fewer than 30 dorsal spots and cross bands, sipedon usually more. The areas between the lateral bars of pleuralis are generally wider than the bars, the converse usually holds for sipedon. The transition between pleuralis and fasciata is more sudden and there are fewer individuals which cannot readily be assigned to one subspecies or the other. N. s. fasciata is generally distinguished by having only transverse bands, whereaspleuralisusually has transversebands anteriorlyand alternating dorsal and lateral spots posteriorly. Occasional specimens of pleuralis have a complete series of transverse bands, but the margins of these are not as serrate as those of fasciata. The belly of fasciata is characterized by quadrate rather than half-circular markings, and a line from the eye to the angle of the mouth is more pronouncedin fasciata than in pleuralis [CLAY 1938: 178]. 
CommentType species: Coluber Sipedon LINNAEUS 1758 is the type species of the genus Nerodia BAIRD in BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 38.

Synonymy: Kaiser et al. 2013 considered the generic name Funkus Hoser 2012 invalid and rejected its use instead of Nerodia.

Censky cites Cope (1892) PROC. ACAD. NAT. SCI. PHILADELPHIA 14: 672 as the original description of Nerodia s. pleuralis. However, 1892 is vol 44 (not 14) and vol. 44 has only 530 pages (the reference is probably Cope 1892, Proc. U.S. Natl. Mus. 14: 589-694, but I haven’t checked this paper).

Habitat: at least partially coastal and thus considered (partially) “marine”.

Diet: mostly fish

Hybridization: Nerodia sipedon and N. fasciata hybridize “massively” in their contact zones, e.g. in the Carolinas and Georgia (Mebert 2008).

NCBI taxon ID: 876474 [pleuralis]
NCBI taxon ID: 876475 [sipedon] 
EtymologyThe generic name was derived from the Greek words neros, meaning "flowing" and dia, meaning "through," presumably alluding to the flowing movement of these snakes, especially in water (LEMOS-ESPINAL & DIXON 2013). 
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