The majority of snakes in Minnesota are Non-venomous. Out of 17 species, only two are considered to be venomous. These two venomous snakes are rarely encountered. Minnesota is extremely cold in winter, ranging from -15℉ to -40℉. Therefore, only a few cold-blooded animals living in Minnesota hide in warm places to stay safe from the cold.
Snakes In Minnesota
Minnesota is the home to 17 species of SnakeSnake which include the Garter snake, Black rat snake, Massasauga, Timber rattlesnake, Milksnake, Common watersnake, Ring-necked SnakeSnake, Brown snake, Gopher snake, Western hognose SnakeSnake, Smooth green SnakeSnake, Redbelly snake, Lined SnakeSnake, Eastern racer, Bullsnake, Eastern hognose SnakeSnake, and Eastern fox snake. However, only the Timber Rattlesnake and the Massasauga are venomous among them.
1 – Garter SnakeSnake
Scientific Name Thamnophis
Lifespan 8 – 10 Years
Length 70 – 100 cm
Diet Birds, Lizards, Leeches, Amphibians, Snails, Slugs, Other Snakes
Garter snakes are nonvenomous in Minnesota and native to Central and North America. They Come from the Colubridae family. They have multiple color variants and have three longitudinal stripes on their body. Some most seen Garter snake’s colors are brown, grey, yellow, and brownish-yellow. Garter snakes have various habitats, including grasslands, meadows, woodlands, marshes, and caves. They are harmless to humans and pets. However, if handled, some Garter snakes may bite, and some may release a foul secretion from their anal glands.
Garter snakes are secretive snakes and avoid direct contact. They are diurnal snakes and are most active during the day. They are good climbers and are seen climbing shrubs and vines. They have many predators, including Hawks, Foxes, Crows, Eagles, Vultures, and Racoons. Their mating season starts when they wake from hibernation in early spring. Female Garter snakes may lay 20 to 40 eggs in one litter.
2 – Black Rat Snake
Scientific Name Pantherophis obsoletus
Lifespan 10 – 15 Years
Length 100 – 200 cm
Diet Rodents, Rats, Rabbits, Moles, Chipmunks, Birds, Frogs, Lizards
Black Rat snakes are nonvenomous snakes in Minnesota and Northern Hemisphere. They come from the Colubridae family. They have a completely black body with a white belly, a scaly body, and a chin. Hatchlings are grey and have black scars all over their bodies. Their appearance resembles many snakes and is usually confused with black kingsnake, Black racer, eastern milkshake, and Corn snake. Black Rat snakes are harmless and do not bite until they feel threatened.
Black rat snakes prefer to hunt alone and are very secretive. They are diurnal and are mostly seen during the daytime. However, they mostly hide from predators like Owls, Hawks, and Foxes. Their mating season starts after they wake from hibernation in early March or May. The female Black Rat snake can lay up to 12 to 20 eggs in one litter and hidden locations where they are safe from other snakes and predators. Their habitats are rocky, under rocks, swamps, lakeside, and open fields.
3 – Massasauga Snake
Scientific Name Sistrurus catenatus
Lifespan 12 -14 Years
Length 60 to 75 cm
Diet Voles, Shrews, Moles, Fish, Birds, Other Snakes, Lizards
Massasauga snakes are venomous in Minnesota, Canada, and some parts of America. They are one of the two snake species in the Great Lakes region. They have a triangle-shaped head and have a small rattle on their tales that makes small sounds when they shake their story. They have black bodies and white scars on their body with scales. They are known to have vertical pupils like cats.
Massasauga Snakes do not bite. However, if bitten, there might be a few health risks if not treated quickly. They are diurnal and are usually seen during the day. Their mating occurs in summer and fall, and female Massasauga Snakes can lay up to 5 to 20 eggs in one litter. Massasauga Snakes often migrate places after giving laying eggs. Sometimes they stay with the eggs to keep them safe from predators. Their habitats are shorelines, grasslands, forests, and marshes.
4 – Timber Rattlesnake
Scientific Name Crotalus horridus
Lifespan 27 – 30 Years
Length 90 – 100 cm
Diet Squirrels, Voles, Shrews, Chipmunks, Moles, Birds, Other Snakes
Timber rattlesnakes are venomous snakes in Minnesota and Eastern North America. They have large bodies and many color variations. They are grey and sometimes have pink, yellow, black, and brown stripes. The Timber Rattlesnake has a few keratinized segments on their tales that form a rattle. Juvenile Timber Rattlesnakes are usually light grey and create darker colors when they grow.
If bitten, they have an extremely toxic bite and may cause serious hazards to humans or pets. They don’t like being handled and may bite. They hibernate during cold seasons. Male Timber Rattlesnakes are mature when they reach 3 – 4 years of age. However, female Timber Rattlesnakes do not reach maturity until they’re 5. They mate in July or August, and female snakes can lay up to 8 to 15 eggs in one litter. Their habitats include swamps, river edges, marshes, pine forests, mountains, and rural areas.
5 – Milksnake
Scientific Name Lampropeltis Triangulum
Lifespan 15 – 20 Years
Length 50 – 150 cm
Diet Birds, Rodents, Rabbits, Moles, Lizards, Small Mammals, Other Snakes
Milksnakes are nonvenomous snakes in Minnesota, Southern Canada, and the Eastern side of America. They are known to be among the most beautiful snakes on the planet. They have small heads, mostly red, with a white band under their charge and black bars on their entire body. Depending on the species, they can sometimes be yellow, brown, or grey. The black band does not cover their belly. They are on the top. Their bellies are usually white or yellow.
Milksnakes may attack in self-defense when threatened. However, they are considered nonvenomous snakes and are harmless to humans. Their mating season starts in mid-June or early July. Female Milksnakes can ay up to 6 to 24 eggs in one litter. They are nocturnal snakes. However, they are sometimes seen during the daytime. Their habitats are forests, rocky areas, swamps, caves, and dunes.
6 – Common Watersnake
Scientific Name Nerodia Sipedon
Lifespan 7 – 9 Years
Length 60 – 140 cm
Diet Fish, Frogs, Toads, Insects, Mice, Shrews
Common Watersnakes are nonvenomous snakes in Minnesota and are native to North America. They come from the Colubridae family. Multiple names like the Blackwater snake, the Brown water snake, the Common Nothern water snake, the Eastern water snake, the banded water snake, and the spotted water snake know them. They can be grey, reddish, brown, or yellow. They have small scars and dark bands on their entire body. Their appearance is quite similar to the cottonmouth snake and copperhead snake.
Common Watersnakes are nocturnal. However, they are often seen during the daytime feeding on prey. They are nonvenomous snakes but can bite if they are agitated. Their mating season starts in April or May. Female common water snakes can lay up to 10 – 20 eggs in one litter. Their habitats are the edge of lakes, ponds, marshes, Burrows, and under rocks.
7 – Ring-Necked Snake
Scientific Name Diadophis punctatus
Lifespan 8 – 10 Years
Length 25 – 40 cm
Diet Earthworms, Slugs, Insects, Frogs, Toads, Baby Snakes.
Ring-Necked are nonvenomous snakes in Minnesota, Central Mexico, South-Eastern Canada, and the United States. Their body is usually grey or black with a yellow or orange ring pattern below their neck. Depending on the species, their bellies are often bright yellow or sometimes orange or reddish. They are considered very good small pet snakes because they are beautiful and usually don’t bite.
Ring-Necked Snakes are nocturnal and are very rarely seen during the daytime. They are very secretive snakes and have a unique defense posture. They curl their tales to expose their bright orange color. Their mating season starts in spring or early fall. Female Ring-Necked Snakes can lay 3 – 10 eggs in one litter. Their Habitats are woodlands, grasslands, debris, under rocks, logs, and leaf litter.
8 – Brown SnakeSnake
Scientific Name Pseudonaja textilis
Lifespan 5 – 7 Years
Length 23 – 53 cm
Diet Beetles, Snails, Slugs, Lizards, Insects, Frogs, Shrews
Brown snakes are highly venomous in Minnesota, New Guinea, and central Australia. They come from the Cobra family. Most Brown snakes are brown, but they have multiple color variations. They can be reddish, yellow, and grey with a white or light brown belly. They have dark black spots all over their body with smooth scales. However, juvenile brown snakes have a more prominent color and a yellowish collar under their neck that follows the path to the tail.
Brown snakes are diurnal, but they are sometimes seen hunting at night. Their mating season starts in spring or fall. Female Brown snakes can lay 20 to 40 eggs in one litter. Their habitats are Marshes, lakes, moist woodlands, Burrows, vegetated lands, and urban areas.
9 – Gopher Snake
Scientific Name Pituophis catenifer
Lifespan 10 – 15 Years
Length 120 – 250 cm
Diet Gophers, Rabbits, Snails, Lizards, Insects, Voles
Gopher snakes are nonvenomous in Minnesota, Canada, and the western coast of North America. They are giant snakes with heavy bodies. They are usually yellow, brown, cream, or tan with orange or reddish blotches all over their body and small dark spot on the side of their belly. They have a triangle-shaped head with small black lines running from their eyes to the jaw.
Gopher snakes are nocturnal, but similar species are seen during the daytime. When scared, they usually flatten their head, hiss, shake their tail like rattlesnakes, and make you run away. Their mating season starts in June or early July. Female Gopher snakes can lay up to 2 to 24 eggs in one litter. Their habitats are bushland, vegetated lands, woodlands, deserts, dunes, and urban areas.
10 – Western Hognose Snake
Scientific Name Heterodon nasicus
Lifespan 15 – 20 Years
Length 50 – 60 cm
Diet Reptile Eggs, Frogs, Mice, Rabbits, Insects, Lizards, Shrews
Western Hognose Snakes are mildly venomous in Minnesota, Canada, and Northern America. They come from the Colubridae family. They have a small head with a pointy snout and upturned nose. they are usually brown, tan, or cream with brown blotches all over their body. They have brown bands that start from one jaw end and pass to the other. There are small black pigments under their tails.
Western Hognose Snakes are venomous, but their venom is so mild that it cannot affect a human’s or pet’s life. However, even when threatened, they rarely bite but run away. They are diurnal and prefer coming out in the daytime. They wait patiently for their prey, and they instantly attack them when they see a chance. Their habitats are grasslands, river edges, marshes, agricultural areas, and semi-desserts.
11 – Smooth Green Snake
Scientific Name Opheodrys Vernalis
Lifespan 5 – 6 Years
Length 35 – 50 cm
Diet Spiders, Larvae, Caterpillar, Insects, Slugs, Worms, Shrews
Smooth Green snakes are nonvenomous snakes in Minnesota and North America. They come from the Colubridae family. They are small snakes and got their name from their smooth scales. As derived from the word, their color is light green, yellow or white from their bellies. However, juvenile smooth green snakes have different colors. First, they’re olive green, then bluish-green, and then light green—their color changes when they shed.
In summer, the smooth green snakes are mostly active day and night. However, they hibernate and wake up in spring or fall when the weather gets cold. Their mating season starts when they wake up from hibernation. Female smooth green snakes can lay 4 to 6 eggs in one litter. Their habitats are grasslands, tempered forests, lake borders, prairies, moist areas, vegetated lands, and caves.
12 – Redbelly Snake
Scientific Name Storeria Occipitomaculata
Lifespan 4 -5 Years
Length 20 – 40 cm
Diet Earthworms, Grubs, Slugs, Insects, Toads, Snails
Redbelly Snakes are venomous snakes in Minnesota and other parts of North America. They come from the Elapidae family. They are mostly brown, grey, and black from the upper body and have red, orange, or grey stripes. As derived from the Name, their bellies are red and they are called Redbelly snakes. Many Redbelly snakes are found to have a white or yellow ring under their small head. They are easy to judge by looking at their belly color.
Redbelly snakes are nocturnal but are very rarely seen during the night. Their mating season starts in spring or fall. Female Redbelly snakes can lay up to 9 to 24 eggs in one litter. After they lay eggs, they sometimes move to another place, leaving the eggs behind and sometimes staying with the eggs, depending on if the eggs are safe from predators. Their habitats include coastal, woodlands, forests, hilly, and wetlands.
13 – Lined SnakeSnake
Scientific Name Tropidoclonion
Lifespan 10 – 12 Years
Length 22 – 38 cm
Diet Insects, Earthworms, Sowbugs
The lined SnakeSnake, also known as the Prairie Ringneck Snake, is one of 17 snakes in Minnesota. It is a medium-sized colubrid snake that can be identified by its smooth scales and a distinctive color pattern consisting of black or dark brown blotches on olive or yellow ground. This species prefers open areas such as prairies, meadows, and pastures with sandy soils for foraging and basking.
Lined snakes are harmless to humans but will release a musk-like odor if threatened. These snakes hibernate during the winter months in underground burrows or other protected places until they emerge in spring. In Minnesota, lined snakes are found throughout the state and are often mistaken as a ‘baby rattlesnake’ due to their similar coloration. It is an important species for maintaining balance in the local ecology of Minnesota.
14 – Eastern Racer
The Eastern Racer is a slender, non-venomous snake that is one of 17 snakes in Minnesota. It can be identified by its long body, smooth scales, and solid gray or brown coloration with a black patch behind the head. These snakes live in almost any open habitat, such as fields, meadows, and woodlands, and can even be found near buildings. Eastern racers are usually active during the day when temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit but can also be seen out at night hunting for food.
Although these snakes are generally harmless to humans, they will hiss and strike when threatened to protect themselves. Eastern racers are found throughout Minnesota, so if you see one out and about, give it plenty of space!
Scientific Name Coluber Constrictor
Lifespan 8 – 10 Years
Length 50 – 150 cm
Diet Small Rodents, Small Mammals, Rabbits, Turtle, Lizards, birds, Mice
15 – Bullsnake
Scientific Name Pituophis Catenifer Sayi
Lifespan 20 – 25 years
Length 150 – 250 cm
Diet Gophers, Rodents, Squirrels, Mice, Rabbits, Earthworms, Insects
The Bullsnake is one of 17 snakes in Minnesota, the largest SnakeSnake in the state. It can be identified by its large size, heavy body, and distinctive pattern consisting of yellow blotches on a dark brown or black background. These snakes are usually active during the day when temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit for foraging and basking but can also be seen out at night hunting for food.
Bullsnakes often mimic rattlesnakes due to their similar coloration, which allows them to deter predators. Although bullsnakes are generally harmless to humans, they will hiss and strike when threatened to protect themselves. These snakes are found throughout Minnesota, so watch for these impressive creatures while exploring outdoors!
16 – Eastern Fox Snake
Scientific Name Pantherophis vulpinus
Lifespan 15 – 20 Years
Length 90 – 170 cm
Diet Eggs, Rodents, Squirrels, Birds, Frogs, Lizards
The Eastern Fox Snake is one of 17 snakes in Minnesota. It is a large constrictor snake identified by its smooth scales and yellow, tan, or brown blotches on an olive or black background. This species prefers open habitats such as fields, meadows, pastures, and woodlands with plenty of cover for basking and hiding.
Fox snakes are harmless to humans but will release a musk-like odor if threatened. These snakes hibernate during the winter months in underground burrows or other protected places until they emerge in spring. In Minnesota, fox snakes are found throughout the state, but they are becoming rare due to habitat loss.
17 – Eastern Hognose Snake
The Eastern Hognose Snake is one of 17 snakes in Minnesota. It can be identified by its upturned snout, rough scales, and a pattern consisting of large spots or blotches on a yellow, tan, or brown background. This species prefers open habitats such as fields, meadows, pastures, and woodlands with plenty of cover for basking and hiding.
Hognose snakes are harmless to humans but will release an offensive odor if threatened. These snakes hibernate during the winter months in underground burrows or other protected places until they emerge in spring. In Minnesota, hognose snakes are found throughout the state, and although they may appear intimidating due to their appearance and defensive behavior, they are quite docile and shy.
These 17 snakes are just a few of the many species found in Minnesota. Though some may appear intimidating initially, they can generally be identified from a distance and are harmless to humans unless provoked. Each one plays an important role in the environment, so it’s important to be aware of their presence and learn ways to coexist with these fascinating creatures. People and snakes can peacefully coexist in Minnesota with proper education and respect for wildlife!