This is one of the most common snakes in NJ, inhabiting freshwater streams, ponds, lakes, swamps, marshes, and bogs throughout the state. Commonly observed basking communally on logs and rocks along stream banks, this snake is often misidentified as NJ’s northern copperhead. The ground color is brown or gray with darker brown, reddish, or black bands on the neck and back. The darker pattern color forms wider bands along the back and slightly narrower bands on the sides, resembling a “reverse” hourglass pattern. Older water snakes are much darker, usually brown or black with faint remnants of pattern while juveniles’ patterns are typically more vivid. They have keeled scales. They give birth to live young in late summer. The water snake often exhibits a highly defensive disposition and can inflict a painful, non-venomous bite if handled.