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Today in West Roxbury wildlife: The northern water snake

Milk Snake

Update: Local snake and turtle expert Andrea Howlett says this is actually a northern water snake, not a milk snake.

Mike Bresinski spotted this snake today at Brook Farm off Baker Street in West Roxbury.



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Admittedly I'm not an expert, but this looks much more like a Northern Water Snake to me.


See Adam's update to the main post.

Water snakes can have similar patterns; what is more notable for the ID is that it has keeled scales, while milk snakes have smooth ones. Additionally, the darker center inside the lighter blotches on its sides says water snake to me, as does the thicker body shape.

Either way, though, it's a great find, and I'm always happy to see folks admiring our snakey friends rather than being afraid or trying to harm them!


Most snakes are not poisonous, but a bite from a non-poisonous snake is not a free lunch either. A non-poisonous snake can inject bacteria into the area of the bite, thereby promoting an infection, or even an allergic reaction from it.

Don’t eat it if it is a poisonous snake.

But it isn’t. It’s not even venomous.

Milk snakes have smooth scales but this snake clearly has keeled scales (google the difference). Northern Water Snake is correct (and much more likely at that location).

It's a Northern Water Snake, 100%. Water snakes are banded while milk snakes have markings more like saddles or blotches.
I'm not a herpetologist, but I have been documenting reptiles and amphibians for several years, and know my local snakes.

Brings all the boys to the yard.


We found a long molt on our front steps one morning, and I bagged it up for my son to take to school.

Damned if we didn't have a half dozen second graders combing the yard for more that afternoon.


I'm glad it was in WRox, because, as you know, they've had about enough of those MFing snakes in Jamaica Plain.


The next candidate to declare for a mayoral run?