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Meet Ohio's 3 Venomous Snakes

Did you know Ohio has venomous snakes?

When you think about poisonous snakes in the United States, you usually don't think of Ohio. Out west and down south is where they all are right?

Actually, the state of Ohio has enough snakes to cause folks to watch their step.

Here are Ohio's three venomous snake species for your identification.

1. Northern Copperhead


This is the Northern Copperhead snake. With brilliant colors, the Northern Copperhead is a beautiful serpent.

It loves to eat small rodents (like mice), but it will also go after frogs, small snakes, small birds, and insects. Female copperheads have a territory of around eight acres while the males may roam up to 24 acres.

Watch for them around old buildings, old logging sawmill slab piles, rock crevices, and areas bordering swamps. They do very well in North America that are year-round residents of Eastern Ohio and Southern Ohio, as confirmed in the map below.


2. Massasauga Rattlesnake

Pa Herp Identification

The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake is named after a combination of two words from the language of the Chippewa tribe of Native Americans. It is one of only two rattlesnake species native to Ohio.

They are found in wet prairies, early succession fields, and sedge meadows. They are not fond of open waters and prefer to stay hidden.

These Ohio year-long residents hibernate in small groups in moist soil. Young birds, shrews, mice, voles, salamanders, and other small species are regular meals for this slithering recluse. Below is the confirmed home areas of this venomous snake. 



3. Timber Rattlesnake


Timber Rattlesnakes are all about wooded areas. They will sun themselves where the sunlight penetrates the leaf canopy. Deep rock crevices are their preferred hibernating areas and den sites.

Squirrels, chipmunks, rats, and mice are often on the menu for the Timber Rattler. They're active in the summer months, but hibernate in winter time and are more lethargic in the colder spring and fall months. As you will see below, the confirmed sightings in Ohio of the Timber Rattlesnake are mostly in the northern half of the state.


While poisonous snakes might be a part of Ohio, they are indeed rare and in some cases endangered. They prefer to stay hidden and away from trouble.

In my 43 years of being an Ohio resident, I have yet to come across one from all my years of wilderness trekking. Older woodsmen have told me of times when they were more common, but habitat loss has been a major barrier to higher populations.

If you come across one of these snakes, it is best left alone. They can be dangerous snakes if not given their space.

In other words, even in Ohio you need to be smart, and watch where you step!

Do you like articles about the outdoors? Click here to view more articles by Eric Nestor. You can follow him @ericthewoodsman on Twitter, The Classic Woodsman on Facebook, and @theclassicwoodsman on Instagram.  You can view more Nestor Photography photos at Nestor Photography.  




Meet Ohio's 3 Venomous Snakes