Northern Water Snake
Nerodia sipedon sipedon
Tellico Plains, TN
This beautiful snake was warming itself on a stump above Bald River Falls in Cherokee National Forest. Some visitors were upset about seeing it. My comment to them was, "Yes, this is it's home!" This gave me "teachable moment," a chance to tell them how to tell the difference between a venomous copperhead and a non-venomous snake. The copperhead has an hourglass pattern of the light-colored bands, a broad, flat, copper-colored head, and the eyes have vertical-slit pupils (see Copperhead photo). This snake has round pupils.
It amazes me how many people go to the forests and expect them to be sanitized of "undesirable" animals! What a boring and sad world it would be if we never got to see these animals.