Species Spotlight: SSSSNAKES 🐍 and Water Lilies

Species Spotlight: SSSSNAKES 🐍 and Water Lilies

IUCN Red List: least concern

Who is ready to slither into summer?

June is National Great Outdoors Month! We encourage people to visit outdoor spaces like the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (and if you’re not sure what to do at the park, check out our Summer Activity Guide!).Β 

Water Lilies

Photo of victoria water lilies in a pond with a tree in the front.
The Victoria Water Lilies get massive at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens! Photo by Erna Marcus.

Now is the perfect time to enjoy the water lilies in the ponds. Water lilies are broadly categorized into two groups: hardy and tropical. The hardy water lilies bloom from late May to early July, while the tropical water lilies bloom between July and August. They come in various colors ranging from hues of red to blue. The most impressive water lilies are the Victoria Water Lily, with pads as broad as 8 feet in diameter! They are so sturdy, a small child can comfortably rest on top of them. It is no wonder all types of animals, such as snakes, can be found basking on top of lily pads.Β 


The Gardens are home to three non-venomous snakes: the Northern Water Snake, Brown Water Snake, and Eastern Rat Snake (Black Rat Snake).

photo of a brown snake laying on two green lily pads.
A snake sunbathes on some lily pads at the park. Photo by Erna Marcus.

Have you ever seen a snake sitting in the middle of the road on a warm, sunny day and wondered what it was doing? Snakes, like turtles and lizards, are all ectothermic animals. This means that they rely on their surroundings to regulate their body temperature. Unlike turtles, however, the ground temperature does not determine what sex a snake will be when it hatches. Fortunately, the Northern Water Snake never has to worry about this. The female Northern Water Snake gives birth to live baby snakes!Β 

As the weather warms up, more of our legless reptilian friends will be on the move. If you ever encounter a snake, then walk around it or wait for it to finish moving. They generally want no trouble and are just going about their days and will slither back into the brush or water. Do not pick up a snake even if you think it is harmless. Anything with a mouth can bite! Take photos when you can and keep your distance at all times. Stay ssssafe when venturing outdoors!

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