Minnesota’s northern climate translates into a lower than average diversity of Minnesota snakes. About seventeen species crawl the grounds and trees and swim in the state’s waters.
The page provides pictures and descriptions of a sample of representative species. Please press the Snakes button on the left for additional snake pictures and identification help.
Milksnakes are probably among the most recognizable snakes in Minnesota. They are generally medium sized snakes with colorful bodies.
Eastern Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) are very adaptable snakes, inhabiting multiples areas from fields to forests to farms. Finding them can be as easy as taking a hike and flipping over a few big rocks or logs.
About eight subspecies of Milk Snakes are described in the United States. Minnesota’s milksnakes normally inhabit southeastern areas of the state.
Along with Milksnakes, Garter snakes are another common and easy to identify snake. Minnesota hosts two.
The first picture shows a Common Garter Snake. It’s a rather inconspicuous looking snake and it’s the primary species in most East Coast states. The dark top of the body is split by bold yellow strip and a hint of red can be seen beneath the top black section of the body.
Plains Gartersnakes (Thamnophis radix), the second picture have the same general darker body top. The stripe pattern along the top of the snake changes slightly.
Rat snakes are the general name given to a group of constrictors that inhabit various regions of the East and Midwest. Their rodent diet and their propensity to inhabit areas with human populations often translated into the humans calling them rat snakes based primarily on the snake’s diet.
While many of the species have common names with rat snake included, other species are known as Corn Snakes and Fox Snakes. Their large size and fairly docile manner means there’s always talk about them in the reptile trade. Probably the corn snake is the most common of the species in the pet trade.
Two Ratsnake species, the Western Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoletus) and the Western Foxsnake (Pantherophis ramspotti), call Minnesota home. The picture shows the more colorful Western Foxsnake.
More Minnesota Colibrid Snakes
The Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) in the second picture is a common Colubrid species, found in most areas of the United States. It’s also the only member of the genus.
The dual color body, dark on the top and a bright shade of orange or yellow on the bottom serve as the best field identification clues. The picture highlights the snake’s characteristic ring neck mark. While ring-neck snake bites are rare, touching them is not recommended. They can secrete a foul smelling chemical.
The eastern half of the United States hosts three Storeria species:
- Red bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
- Dekay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi)
- Florida Brownsnake (Storeria victa)
The picture shows a Red-bellied snake, probably the smallest snake in the state. It often grows to less than one foot in length.
More Minnesota snakes:
- Eastern Hognose snakes (Heterodon platirhinos)
- Gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer)
- Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon)
- Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis)
- Lined Snake (Tropidoclonion lineatum)
- Black Racer (Coluber constrictor)
Minnesota Snakes: Venomous Snakes
Pit Vipers, the largest group of venomous snakes, consist of three general kinds of snakes: rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths.
Sixteen Rattlesnake species in the genus Crotalus inhabit most areas of North America. Because of their venomous bites, their presence in any specific area usually gets well documented. Minnesota hosts two ratlesnake species.
The Timber Rattlesnake pictured is probably the most common species in the United States. It lives in most states east of the Rocky Mountains.
Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) are smaller snakes. Dark bodies are contrasted with even darker spots. The rattle is also present.