Michigan is home to 19 snakes, some you may never encounter and others you may come across regularly. Most snakes will try and get away rather than be aggressive towards a human.
If you are wondering what snake you saw in your yard or when you were out in nature, continue reading to find out more.
Table of Contents
Are There Venomous Snakes In Michigan?
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes are the only venomous snake you will encounter in Michigan.
They are shy and will avoid you wherever possible, spending their time in wetlands.
They are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The good news is that bites from this snake are exceptionally rare in Michigan, but they can happen. If bitten seek medical attention right away.
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Bites and Symptoms
The Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes venom is hemolytic, this means it breaks down red blood cells within your body.
Their venom is considered highly toxic, causing pain and burning in the bite area with swelling, discoloration, and bruising.
Other symptoms include weakness, vomiting, nausea, numbness in the face or limbs, sweating, blurred vision, problems breathing, and excessive salivation.
If bitten, get away from the snake immediately, don’t try and catch it, but try and remember the snake’s color and size, which can help the medical team ensure they provide you with the right anti-venom.
What To Do If Bitten By an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
- Remove jewelry and tight-fitting clothes as soon as you can before swelling starts
- Do not raise the bite area above your heart, this increases the risk of venom reaching your heart quickly
- Stay still, movement increases blood flow. Increased blood flow helps the venom circulate through your bloodstream faster
- If the bite area is bleeding, let it bleed, which can release some of the venoms
- Do not wash the bite area
- Place a clean bandage on the wound
- Remain as calm as possible, anxiety can increase your heart rate
- Do not try and suck out the venom
- Do not use a tourniquet
- Do not apply ice or water to the bite site
- If you start going into shock, keep warm, lie on your back and raise your feet
- Get to a hospital as quickly as possible.
Snakes In Michigan
The 19 snakes you may encounter in Michigan include:
1. Kirtland’s snake
Scientific name:Clonophis kirtlandii.
Common name:Kirtland’s snake.
Length: 18 in (46 cm).
Kirtland’s snakes are slender, small snakes growing to around 18 inches (46cm).
They are gray to brown in color with large spots of black on their back and smaller spots on either side. The scales on the ventral side are red with a round black spot on each outer side.
This snake is common in southern Michigan, where it prefers forest, wetland, and grassland habitats, including marshes and swamps.
They are listed as endangered species in Michigan.
2. Blue Racer
Scientific name: Coluber constrictor foxii.
Common name:blue racer.
Length: up to 60 in (152 cm).
Blue Racers are only found in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
The blue racer is a beautiful snake with brilliant blue to dull gray lateral scales, creamy white ventral scales, and a dark gray dorsum. They have black masks on their face with large eyes.
Younger snakes have blotches that tend to fade when they reach three years.
The blue racer can grow to 152cm in length.
3. Northern Ring-necked Snake
Scientific name: Diadophis punctatus edwardsii.
Common name:Northern ringneck snake.
Length: 24 in (61 cm).
The Northern ring-necked snake can be black to a blue-gray in color with a yellow to orange ring that goes around the neck. Their underside matches the color of the ring with some dark patterns.
These snakes can grow to 2 feet (61cm) in length.
They prefer a wooded habitat, though they have been observed in open mountainous areas and on the edge of wetlands. They also seem to like moist basements that are humid.
4. Eastern Fox Snake
Scientific name: Pantherophis gloydi.
Common name:Eastern fox snake.
Length:70 in (179 cm).
Eastern fox snakes are often encountered in marshy and flat areas, along with partially drained areas. They also enjoy rocky habitats and woodlands. They are ground dwellers and will very rarely be seen in a tree.
These snakes can grow to 179cm in length with a dorsal color that can be light brown to yellow with dark patches of chocolate or black. The head is usually red to brown.
Younger snakes are slightly lighter in color and darken with age.
They can be observed in farmlands, open woodlands, and prairies.
5. Western Fox Snake
Scientific name: Pantherophis vulpina.
Common name:Western fox snake.
Length:up to 6 feet (1.83 m).
Western fox snakes can grow to 6 feet (1.83 meters) in length.
They are light brown with dark brown spots and a yellow checker board patterning on their underside.
They are not venomous but will give off a musk if they feel threatened.
They enjoy a varied habitat, including farmlands, open woodlands, marshlands, pastures, and prairies.
6. Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
Scientific name: Heterodon platirhinos.
Common name:eastern hog-nosed snake, spreading adder.
Length: up to 46 in (116 cm).
The Eastern hog-nosed snake can grow to 46 inches (116cm) in length, the females are larger than the males.
They have an upturned snout, which they use to dig in the soil.
Their color varies from red to green, brown, black, gray, or orange, sometimes a combination of colors.
They may or may not have a checkered or blotchy pattern.
Their undersides are gray, cream, or yellow. The underside of their tail is lighter than the belly section.
They are not harmful to humans, though their saliva can cause localized swelling and discomfort.
If they feel threatened, they will flatten their neck and raise their head, similar to a cobra. They will also hiss and strike, but will not bite. If this does not work, they play a deal, emitting a musk.
7. Eastern Milk Snake
Scientific name: Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum.
Common name:Eastern milk snake.
Length: 52 in (132 cm).
Eastern milk snakes grow to 52 inches (132cm) in length with shiny and smooth scales.
They are brown with black edging, though some are reddish to red-brown in color. They have up to five black-bordered blotches that run down the length of the snake. Their base color is tan or gray. Their underside is a black and white checkered pattern.
They are very popular as pets and are bred in captivity. They are docile snakes that rarely try and bite unless you restrain them.
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8. Smooth Green Snake
Scientific name: Liochlorophis vernalis.
Common name:Smooth green snake, grass snake.
Length: 26 in (66 cm).
Smooth green snakes are slender snakes growing to 26 inches (66cm) in length.
They are green on their backs with a white or yellow underside.
Younger snakes are olive-green to blue-gray until their first shed when they become bright green.
Their tongue is black on the end.
This is a protected species, which cannot be collected for captivity.
These snakes can be encountered in a range of habitats from meadows and open woods to marshes and on the edge of streams. They usually stay close to a permanent water source, using its green coloration to help them camouflage into their surroundings.
9. Copper-bellied Water Snake
Scientific name: Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta.
Common name:copperbelly water snake, copperbelly.
Length: 5 feet (152 cm).
This snake can be easily identified with its black to brown back with a bright red to orange colored belly.
They are not venomous and grow to up to five feet (152cm).
Young snakes have a two-toned pattern of red to brown with cross bands and red to orange-colored lips and chins with a bright orange underside.
Younger snakes are hardly ever encountered and remain hidden and well camouflaged.
These snakes prefer warm, quiet waters, such as lowland swamps.
This snake is listed as endangered in Michigan.
10. Northern Water Snake
Scientific name:Nerodia sipedon.
Common name:banded water snake, black water adder, black water snake, brown water snake, common water snake, common northern water snake, eastern water snake, North American water snake, northern banded water snake, northern water snake, spotted water snake, streaked snake, water pilot.
Length: 24 – 55 in (61 – 140 cm)
Northern water snakes can grow up to 55 inches (140cm) in length.
They are dark brown, tan, or gray with some square patches on their sides and backs.
They are often confused with the cottonmouth, but the cottonmouth has bands rather than patches.
They live in aquatic habitats, including streams, marshes, lakes, ponds, and rivers.
They are often encountered basking in the sun on the edge of the water or on branches that hang over the water.
11. Black Rat Snake
Scientific name:Pantherophis obsoletus.
Common name:western rat snake, black rat snake, pilot black snake, black snake.
Length: 182 cm
The black rate snake can grow up to six feet (183cm) in length.
These snakes are black with some white between the scales. They are light gray with brown patches when they are younger. The belly is white and has a checkered pattern closer to the tail.
They can be observed in southern Michigan where they prefer forests, floodplains, swamp margins, and timbered hillsides. They are often found in barns and abandoned buildings. They are also common in suburban areas.
If approached, it will remain motionless, while vibrating its tail and giving off a foul-smelling musk.
12. Gray Rat Snake
Scientific name: Pantherophis spiloides.
Common name:gray ratsnake, gray rat snake, central ratsnake, chicken snake, midland ratsnake, pilot black snake.
Length: 6 feet in (183 cm).
Gray rat snakes can grow up to six feet (183cm), though the largest recorded in Tennessee was 8.10ft (247cm).
They can be light to dark gray with dorsal patches, which are separated by lighter gray scales.
Even though they are ground dwellers, they are excellent climbers and may be found in trees. They tend to live in hardwood forests, cypress stands, and along tree-lined fields and streams.
They are often encountered in sheds and barns, where there are ample rats to feed on.
They remain motionless if approached, holding its body in a series of waves, while it rattles its tail. They will pretend to strike to defend themselves. If you pick it up, it will release a foul-smelling musk.
Note, these snakes will bite if they feel it necessary.
This snake is considered as “of special concern” in the state of Michigan.
13. Queen Snake
Scientific name:Regina septemvittata.
Common name:queen snake.
Length: up to 24 in (61 cm).
Queen snakes are medium-sized, slender, and aquatic snakes, growing to 24 inches (61cm).
They are gray in color but can be olive green to light brown. They have three stripes that run down the body with two light stripes on either side. Their yellow belly has four brown stripes.
They are usually observed near running water, such as rivers and streams. They look for areas that have plenty of crayfish to feed on. They are often seen on the banks of rivers and streams soaking up the sun.
They will hide underwater if approached and are mostly active during the day.
14. Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Sistrurus catenatus catenatus.
Common name:Eastern massasauga rattlesnake.
Length: 30 in (75 cm).
This snake can grow to 30 inches (75cm) and consist of a color pattern of tan with gray, there is a row of rounded brown to black patches or spots that run down the center of the back with three small rows of spots, which alternate down either side.
There are some of this species that are solid black.
Younger snakes are lighter in color than adults, darkening with age.
These snakes are considered endangered in Michigan.
This is a venomous snake with venom destroying tissue, along with enzymes that can disrupt blood flow.
They are shy and try and avoid humans wherever possible. People that have been bitten are those than having accidentally stepped on the snake or tried to handle it.
15. Brown Snake
Scientific name:Storeria dekayi.
Common name:brown snake, De Kay’s snake.
Length: 9 – 13 in (23 – 33 cm)
Brown snakes grow to 13 inches (33cm) in length.
These small snakes can be brown, yellow/brown, red/brown, or gray/brown.
They have two rows of spots, which may be linked on the back, along with a streak down the side of the head.
Their underside is white to light brown with tiny dots on the side of the belly.
They are sometimes mistaken for copperheads in suburban areas, though copperheads have an hourglass shape on their backs and bright yellow on the tip of the tail.
They are common in residential areas, where they hide under debris.
16. Northern Red-bellied Snake
Scientific name: Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata.
Common name:northern redbelly snake.
Length: 4 – 10 in (10 – 25 cm).
The northern red-bellied snake is a small snake that grows to 10 inches (25cm) in length.
These woodland snakes can be brown, black, gray, or bright orange in color, some have a stripe down the center of their back, some have a brown ring behind the head.
Their underside is red to bright orange without any patterning.
They prefer woodland habitats and open habitats, such as fields. They are secretive and hide under rocks, logs, and leaf litter.
They curl their lips when threatened, but are not known to bite.
17. Butler’s Garter Snake
Scientific name: Thamnophis butleri.
Common name:Butler’s garter snake.
Length: 15 – 29 in (38 – 73 cm).
This slender snake is small, growing to 29 inches (73 cm) in length.
They have three orange to yellow stripes that run down the length of the body with olive to brown or black base color.
When threatened they tend to thrash, almost in place, rather than running for cover.
They are not venomous and will try and escape rather than be aggressive towards a human.
18. Northern Ribbon Snake
Scientific name: Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis.
Common name:northern ribbon snake.
Length:up to 33 in (86 cm).
The Northern ribbon snake is a slim snake with stripes of white, yellow, or green that run down the body.
Their base color is dark brown to black.
The underside is a solid color of green, white or yellow.
They have white or yellow scales just above the mouth with a dark border.
They can grow up to 86.2cm in length.
They are often found not too far from water, such as the edge of streams, marshes, and lakes.
19. Eastern Garter Snake
Scientific name:Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis.
Common name:Eastern garter snake.
Length: 18 – 26 in (46 – 66 cm).
Eastern garter snakes can grow up to 49 inches (124cm) with females being larger than the male.
They can be black, brown, or green with a white to yellow colored stripe.
They live in a range of habitats, though they tend to prefer abandoned farmlands, trash dumps, and outbuildings. They can also be encountered near rivers, swamps, ponds, quarries, and streams. They are often observed in cemeteries, yards, and city parks.
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Eighteen species of snakes are found in Michigan and they are an important part of our state's ecosystems. Snakes can survive in a variety of habitats such as forests, grasslands, lakes, rivers, marshes, farms, and cities.What are brown snakes in Michigan? ›
Another small snake species you're likely to find slithering around wooded areas of Michigan is the Northern Brown snake. Adult Brown snakes are very light in color and only some have even lighter stripes on their sides.
Gray Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta)
This is Michigan's largest snake. Adult length: 3.5 to 8 feet. Range and Status: Gray Rat Snakes occur in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula, but are rare and declining.
Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, the only venomous snake in Michigan, are shy creatures that will avoid humans whenever possible. Also known as "swamp rattlers," they spend the vast majority of their time in year-round wetlands hunting their primary prey, mice.What does a milk snake look like in Michigan? ›
60-Second Snakes: The Eastern Milk Snake - YouTubeCan you identify a snake by a picture? ›
Take a live photo or upload an existing photo of any snake and one of our fifteen team members will provide a fast & accurate response with your snake's identity, diet, and habitat. Accuracy, timely responses, education, and awareness are our top priorities!Is there a free app to identify snakes? ›
Compton has developed an app called SnakeSnap. You can take a photo, send it through the app and get an answer to what type of snake and if the user is safe. "We've assembled a team of biologists, herpetologists, toxicologists, medical doctors.Do snakes stay near where they shed their skin? ›
Snakes don't typically hang around the site where they shed very long (don't worry, I looked), but the sheds themselves have many characteristics that aid in identifying the species they came from. Two of the three sheds were found right outside the entrance to a gopher tortoise burrow.What Michigan snake flattens its head? ›
Eastern hog-nosed snakes are known for their theatrical defensive behavior. Alarmed snakes inflate the body with air, flatten the head and neck like a cobra, and expel the air in a long hiss. They will also open the mouth wide and strike at potential predators.Do water moccasins live in Michigan? ›
Water moccasins (cottonmouths), which are venomous, do not occur anywhere near Michigan.
All milk snakes have a blotchy or striped appearance, with darker blotches separated by lighter stripes. The color of those darker blotches can be very light to very dark, from tan to rust colored to dark brown. The ligher areas can be orange, yellow, or white. The darker areas are always outlined in black.Where do snakes go in the winter in Michigan? ›
Brumation is a more correct way of describing the winter dormancy of reptiles and most amphibians in Michigan, and differs slightly from hibernation in mammals. From about October – April, snakes in Michigan will stay dormant either underground, in a previously dug burrow, or tucked in a rock crevice or cave.How big does a blue racer snake get? ›
Adult body length: 36 - 60 inches, record 72 inches. Length when hatched: 8 - 13 inches. Typical foods: Small mammals, birds, frogs, lizards, other snakes and large insects.Where are there the most snake bites? ›
Most snake envenomings and fatalities occur in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, with India reporting the most snakebite deaths of any country.What happens if you get bit by a massasauga rattlesnake? ›
Envenomation can result in hemorrhage, increased vascular permeability, tissue necrosis and, in the worst-case scenario, death from shock. In a case reported by the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, a massasauga rattlesnake bit a 62-year-old man on the right thumb.Where are the most rattlesnakes in Michigan? ›
Michigan has the largest population of Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes in the country, despite the population declining. There have been 150 site reports in 5 counties over the last decade. The sightings tend to be in clusters, including in Oakland, Livingston, Jackson and Washtenaw counties.What part of Michigan has rattlesnakes? ›
Habitat 1-2: Massasauga rattlesnakes are found in wetland areas in Michigan. The species has been recorded in every county of the Lower Peninsula and only Mackinac County in the Upper Peninsula.Whats a rat snake look like? ›
The eastern ratsnake is a shiny black snake with weakly keeled scales and an irregular black and white checkerboard pattern on the belly. The chin and throat are cream or white in color. Juveniles look very different. They have strongly patterned backs of gray and brown blotches on pale gray.What does a corn snake look like? ›
Corn snakes, sometimes called red rat snakes, are slender, orange or brownish-yellow snakes with a pattern of large, red blotches outlined in black down their backs. Along their bellies are distinctive rows of alternating black and white marks, which resemble a checkerboard pattern.What do water snakes look like? ›
Water snake characteristics
The markings and coloration of water snakes vary somewhat from species to species, but for the most part they are brown, gray, olive green or reddish with dark splotches or bands on their backs. Sometimes they look solid brown or black when wet.
Water snakes are not venomous, but will bite if cornered or handled. They are sometimes mistakenly called “water moccasins” (which are not native to Michigan). Reproduction: Females give birth to their 7 to 9 inch young in late summer.What Michigan snake flattens its head? ›
Eastern hog-nosed snakes are known for their theatrical defensive behavior. Alarmed snakes inflate the body with air, flatten the head and neck like a cobra, and expel the air in a long hiss. They will also open the mouth wide and strike at potential predators.Are Michigan puff adders poisonous? ›
May 01, 2014 — The Eastern hognose snake is better known by its nickname, puff adder, derived from its aggressive display when disturbed. Its bite is mildly venomous, capable of sedating small prey, such as toads. Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss this common northeastern reptile.Where are fox snakes in Michigan? ›
Range: The eastern fox snake resides entirely within the Great Lakes basin. This species is restricted to the shoreline and near shore areas along southern Lake Huron from Saginaw Bay, Michigan and Georgian Bay, Ontario south to the Detroit River and Lake St.What do you do if you get bit by a massasauga rattlesnake? ›
Call emergency services (911) and get to a hospital as quickly and safely as possible. DO NOT apply ice or a tourniquet. DO NOT cut or apply suction to the bite area.Where do snakes go in the winter in Michigan? ›
Brumation is a more correct way of describing the winter dormancy of reptiles and most amphibians in Michigan, and differs slightly from hibernation in mammals. From about October – April, snakes in Michigan will stay dormant either underground, in a previously dug burrow, or tucked in a rock crevice or cave.Is a Michigan water moccasin poisonous? ›
As adults, they have dark bands and are often mistaken for copperheads or cottonmouths, but these snakes are not venomous.What snake puffs up like a cobra? ›
The hognose snake is sometimes called the puff adder. When it is threatened, it raises its head and puffs out and flattens the skin around its neck - like a cobra.What does a pig snake look like? ›
Description: A stout, medium-sized snake (20.0 to 33.0 inches in length) with variable coloration and pattern, but easily distinguished by its upturned snout. The background color can be yellow, orange, gray, brown, or black, with brown, rust, or black rectangular patterns down the middle of the back.What is the snake that plays dead? ›
Perhaps one of the most famously known snakes for death feigning is the Eastern Hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos). Eastern hognoses are native to North America and can be found as far north as Ontario, Canada and as far south as South Florida and Texas. Eastern hognoses get their name from their pig-like snout.
Envenomation can result in hemorrhage, increased vascular permeability, tissue necrosis and, in the worst-case scenario, death from shock. In a case reported by the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, a massasauga rattlesnake bit a 62-year-old man on the right thumb.Is the hog head snake poisonous? ›
Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes are not dangerous to people or pets. They do, however, produce a mild venom that is used for subduing prey. This mild venom is delivered by two enlarged teeth at the back of the upper jaw.
Despite this intimidating behavior, hog-nosed snakes are harmless to humans. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake, the only venomous snake species found in Michigan, is quite rare and protected as a species of special concern due to declining populations from habitat loss.Are there blue racer snakes in Michigan? ›
Blue racer snakes' range covers all of the lower peninsula of Michigan as well as the most southern tip of the upper peninsula down through northern Indiana, Illinois, into parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and the most southern tip of Ontario, Canada on Pelee Island in Lake Erie.Does a fox snake bite? ›
Fox snakes are usually docile and not aggressive snakes but they may still bite when harassed. They also produce a musky odor similar to that of the red fox when handled, hence their common name "fox snake".What kind of water snakes are in Michigan? ›
The six water-dwelling snakes in Michigan are Northern Water Snakes, Copperbelly Water Snakes, Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes, Northern Ribbon Snakes, Queen Snakes, and Kirtland's Snakes. These snakes live in and around various bodies of water and feed off the wildlife living near them.