What's For Dinner?

For starters, Nerodia sipedon is a heterotrophic organism which simply means that they must consume food to gain nutrients. They usually obtain their food in one of two ways, the first way being predation, where the snake will go out and hunt down a food source, kill it, then proceed to ingest the prey item. The second way the snakes are able to obtain their food is by scavenging, if they find an already dead prey item, the snakes will not hesitate to take an easy meal. Also, unlike many other snake species they do not use constriction to kill their prey before ingestion, Nerodia sipedon swallow their prey whole and alive.

When on the hunt, Nerodia sipedon are typically looking for a wide variety of different organisms such as: amphibians, fish (dead or alive), crayfish, leeches, smaller snakes, small mammals, birds, turtles and even large insects. Sometimes, these snakes will round up and force groups of fish or tadpoles to the edge of a body of water, and consume many meals at one time.

For more information about some of the prey items around the La Crosse, Wisconsin area, check out the following links: Leopard Frogs, American Toads, Bluegills and Fathead Minnows.


                          Illustration by Virgil Beck                                Photo by Dan Nedrelo


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