Minnesota is home to 17 species of snakes, but none of them are venomous. While this is a good thing for Minnesotans, it is not as exciting for the lovers of dangerous slithering snakes. The only venomous snakes found in the United States are rattlesnakes, cottonmouths (also known as water moccasins), and copperheads. These snakes are found primarily in the southern and western parts of the country, where the climate is warmer.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes has none of those. In Minnesota, the most common snake species are the garter snake, the eastern hognose snake, and the red-bellied snake. These snakes are all harmless to humans and play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling rodent populations and serving as prey for larger animals.
Non-Venomous Snake Species in Minnesota
Minnesota may not be home to any venomous snakes, but that doesn’t mean the state doesn’t have some fascinating and unique serpent species. Here are a few of the most interesting snakes you can find in Minnesota:
1. Eastern Hognose Snake
This snake is known for its dramatic defense mechanism. When threatened, the eastern hognose snake will flatten its head, hiss loudly, and may even play dead, rolling onto its back and sticking out its tongue as if it were dead. It’s also known for its upturned nose, which is used to dig in the soil for prey.
2. Red-bellied Snake
This small snake is less than a foot long and is found throughout Minnesota. It’s known for its bright red belly, which contrasts with its gray or brown back. The red-bellied snake is a nocturnal hunter that feeds on small insects and invertebrates.
3. Northern Water Snake
As the name suggests, this snake is commonly found near water, such as lakes and rivers. The northern water snake is a strong swimmer and can even catch fish in the water. It’s a non-venomous snake, but it can be aggressive when threatened.
4. Smooth Green Snake
This snake is found throughout the eastern half of Minnesota and is known for its bright green color. The smooth green snake is a docile species that feeds primarily on insects. It’s also a popular pet snake due to its striking appearance.
5. Plains Garter Snake
This is one of the most common snake species in Minnesota and is found throughout the state. The plains garter snake is known for its colorful stripes, which can vary from yellow to green to brown. It’s a harmless snake that feeds on small rodents, frogs, and insects.
6. Dekay’s Brown Snake
This small snake is less than a foot long and is commonly found in wooded areas throughout Minnesota. It’s a harmless species that feeds on insects and small invertebrates. The dekay’s brown snake is known for its dark brown color and its white or yellow belly.
7. Ring-necked Snake
This snake is known for the bright orange or yellow band around its neck. It’s a small species, typically measuring less than a foot long. The ring-necked snake is primarily active at night and feeds on insects, slugs, and other small invertebrates.
8. Common Garter Snake
Similar to the plains garter snake, the common garter snake is a non-venomous species that are commonly found throughout Minnesota. It’s known for its long, slender body and its distinctive stripes, which can vary in color from green to brown to red.
9. Queen Snake
This snake is found primarily in the eastern part of Minnesota and is typically found near streams and rivers. It’s a non-venomous species that feeds primarily on fish, which it catches by diving underwater. The queen snake is known for its unique hunting behavior and its olive-brown coloration.
Conclusion: Not Venomous But Still Interesting
These are just a few of the fascinating snake species you can find in Minnesota. While they may not be as dangerous as their venomous counterparts, they play an important role in the ecosystem and are a valuable part of Minnesota’s wildlife.
While there are no venomous snakes in Minnesota, it is still important to be cautious around all snakes, as some species can bite if they feel threatened. If you encounter a snake, the best thing to do is to give it plenty of space and observe it from a safe distance. Snakes are an important part of our natural world, and it’s important to respect their role in the ecosystem.