Water snake "infestation"?

Q: I have seen numerous snakes in the pier areas. Behind the police station I saw 24 adult snakes. Is anyone trying to rid the area of the infestation?
Sandusky Register Staff
May 23, 2011


Q: I have seen numerous snakes in the pier areas. Behind the police station I saw 24 adult snakes. Is anyone trying to rid the area of the infestation? Kim from E. Monroe Street

A: Hi Kim! Spotting snakes slithering near you can be quite a surprise. I completely understand why you’re not all that fond of the creatures. What you’re likely seeing are northern water snakes, which look similar to the protected Lake Erie water snakes. Neither of the snake species are poisonous and both serve an important role in Lake Erie’s ecosystem because they eat invasive fish species that would otherwise decimate the small mouth bass population. The water snakes grow about 1 to 3 feet long and live along the shore of Lake Erie. I put in a call to Kristin Stanford, who’s known as the snake lady, for answers. She works at the Stone Laboratory near Put-in-Bay and keeps close tabs on the population of the Lake Erie water snakes, but also knows a lot about northern water snakes. She said you’re probably seeing large masses of the snakes right now because they’re coming out of hibernation after a long, cold spring and they’re mating. They’ll likely disperse by mid-June, when mating season slows down. You’re also probably seeing more snakes than ever before because their primary food source - gobies, an invasive fish species - are found in abundance these days. Stanford is not aware of any campaigns to destroy the snakes, but said the snakes are actually our buddies because they help maintain a healthy population of game fish. If you encounter them, simply go your way and they’ll go theirs. If you have further problems with the snakes getting on your boat or slithering into your house or yard, check out the website respectthesnake.com for details on how to handle the situation.

Jason's Mailbag is a daily feature on SanduskyRegister.com (although it may have a different name next week). Every weekday at noon, we will post one question-and-answer from a resident. On Mondays, we will collect the still-relevant questions from the previous week and place them in the print edition.

To ask a question, send a letter to Cheryl Welch at 314 W. Market St., or e-mail mailbag@ sanduskyregister.com. Please include your first name and a location in the e-mail, e.g. “John from Decatur Street."




I had been wondering the same thing, it seems like every year I see more of them.  I'm not so sure about the you go your way and they'll go theirs theory though.  I had one following me in the water at Nickleplate last year.  At first it was knd of funny, but after awhile not so much lol.  Who knows, maybe I look like a gobie and I never realized it.

AJ Oliver

    Ever wonder why you don't see any wharf rats around the Sandusky Bay shore?  In most harbors around the country, they are everywhere.  I'm thinking it's because of our slithering reptiles.  I'll take the snakes over the rats any day.  There's a big one that guards my boat.  He's my buddy. 

  And yeah, sometimes the snakes sure seem to follow us around.  I wonder what's on their mind when they do that? 


The Lake Erie water snake is actually a sub-species of the Common (aka Northern) water snake, which means they are genetically the same.  The LE water snakes are geographically isolated, which is why they are considered a subspecies.  It breaks my heart that people senslessly kill snakes because they don't understand them.  They are not an infestation, they are an indiginous species, and a very beneficial one at that!  Leave them alone, and they'll do the same to you (though I have also been followed by a snake, I think they are just naturally curious animals).

Oh, and water snakes are aggressive by nature, but they aren't venomous.  So if you think you're ok picking one up, don't cry if it bites you.  Keep in mind there are only 3 species of venomous snakes in Ohio; Copperheads, Timber rattlesnakes and Massasauga rattlesnakes.  There are NO COTTONMOUTH snakes in Ohio.  If someone says they saw/killed one, they really saw/killed a watersnake.  You will be hardpressed to see the 3 venomous species in the Northern counties as well.




I spend a great deal of time outdoors and have not seen any venomous snakes in the area for years. The last Timber I saw was almost 20 years ago.

trouble shooter

I have a fear of snakes, all snakes! I don't harm them, just fear them! I can't walk on water but if I see a snake, I can run on water! LOL


Please don't mess with my friends


Snake infestations can be scary, especially for those who are frightened of snakes, or when the snake infestation involves snakes which are venomous. If there are a massive number of snakes, don't do anything stupid, rather phone animal control and have them removed. I remember the case of Ben and Amber Sessions, their house was infested with snakes. They thought they were getting their dream property once they paid under $180,000 for a five bedroom house in rural Rexburg, Idaho. But they soon learned their ideal was a waking problem. Their house was breached by a ton of snakes. Here is the proof: Snakes infest Idaho house, newstype.com. Oh well, to add there is an electronic snake repellent that pulses vibrations that snakes hate and you might consider this alternative. That could drive those snakes away.




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