Ohio Snakes

Ohio Snakes: All the Different Kinds You'll Find in the State

These are the snakes to steer clear of and the ones you won't need to fear when heading to the Buckeye State.

With plenty of wet prairies and wooded areas throughout the state, Ohio is prime snake country. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources suggests most snake species are simply a nuisance, and the venomous varieties are not too common.

All the same, here are the species known to inhabit Ohio, and a little about each one.

Venomous Snakes

Timber Rattlesnake

While Ohio is home to a couple dozen species of snakes, only three of them are venomous species.

Timber Rattlesnake: The heaviest snake subspecies found in the state, timber rattlesnakes can vary widely in color. They will strike on occasion, but they're not typically aggressive snakes.

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake: These rattlers usually measure less than two feet long and are becoming rare in Ohio.

Northern Copperhead: While the copperhead is venomous, it's actually the least deadly in North America. Their coloring provides them with excellent camouflage in the wild.

People commonly misidentify watersnakes as cottonmouths or water moccasins, but Ohio is outside their natural range.

Non-Venomous Snakes

These are the most common non-venomous snakes you might come across in Ohio.

Rat snakes: The gray/black rat snake and eastern rat snake

Brown snakes: Several varieties of these non-biting snakes live in Ohio, including the De Kay's brown snake (storeria dekayi).

Garter snakes: The eastern garter snake (thamnophis sirtalis), Butler's garter snake, and Plains garter snake are active yet harmless.

Water snakes: The northern water snake (nerodia sipedon), copper-bellied water snake, Lake Erie water snake, and common water snake all flock toward wet areas. While they avoid humans, they will strike if harassed.

Green snakes: Similar in coloration, the smooth green snake and rough green snake are vibrant in color and have a gentle demeanor.

Eastern Fox snake: These guys are often mistaken for copperheads due to their similar coloration.

Worm snake: These snakes are named for their resemblance to nightcrawlers.

Racer: These super-fast snakes will give a painful yet non-poisonous bite.

Queen snake: These aquatic snakes feed primarily on crayfish.

Eastern Milk snake: These were once believed to milk cows at night, but they're often found in barns because they feed on rodents.

Kirtland's Snake: These hard-to-find snakes sport a bright red belly.

Eastern Smooth Earth snake: Underneath flat rocks is their favorite place to hide.

Ring-Necked Snake: A yellowish ring makes these snakes easy to identify.

Eastern Black King snake: These non-venomous snakes can feed on venomous snakes.

Eastern Ribbon snake: Ribbon snakes are usually near water and can be easily confused with garter snakes.

Dealing with Snakes in Ohio

Odds are, if you encounter a snake in the Buckeye State, it will be of the harmless variety. And that should go both ways: don't harass or try to touch a snake you find in the wild. Leave them be, observe from a safe distance, and enjoy a cool nature experience that not everyone gets to have.

If you do come across one of the venomous snakes of Ohio, immediately back away to avoid irritating it. Should you get bit, consult medical professionals to help you out.

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