12 Different Types of Snakes in Canada

Types of Snakes in Canada
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Canada is home to many snakes, many of which are incredibly fascinating.

From the common garter snake to the rare eastern fox snake, a vast array of types of snakes in Canada can be encountered in many different habitats.

In this post, we’ll explore the various types of snakes in Canada, focusing on some of the most common species and their habits.

1. Prairie Rattlesnake

Prairie Rattlesnake
by TomSpinker is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) is a venomous snake found in the prairie regions of western Canada.

Known for its distinctive rattle, this snake is highly adaptable and can be found in various habitats, including grasslands, deserts, and rocky areas.

The type of snake in Canada is one of Canada’s most giant venomous snakes, with adults typically reaching lengths of 3 to 4 feet.

Its coloration varies but typically has a greenish or brownish hue, with dark blotches along its back.

Despite its evil nature, the Prairie Rattlesnake is not generally aggressive and usually tries to avoid human encounters.

However, if threatened, it will defend itself using its rattle and potentially striking with its venomous fangs.

Its diet consists primarily of small mammals such as mice, voles, and ground squirrels.

The Prairie Rattlesnake is essential in maintaining balanced ecosystems by controlling rodent populations.

If you encounter a Prairie Rattlesnake in the wild, it is necessary to maintain a safe distance and allow the snake to retreat independently.

2. Timber Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake
by smashtonlee05 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of Canada’s most well-known types of snake is the Timber Rattlesnake.

These snakes are found in select areas of eastern Canada, particularly in parts of Ontario and Quebec. They are also found in the east of the United States.

Timber Rattlesnakes are venomous and have a distinctive rattle on their tail, which they use to warn potential predators or humans.

Timber Rattlesnakes can grow up to 1.5 meters in length and are typically gray or brown. They are known for their distinct diamond-shaped markings along their backs.

These snakes in Canada prefer to live in rocky areas with forests nearby and hibernate during winter.

Despite their evil nature, Timber Rattlesnakes generally prefer to avoid conflict and will only strike as a last resort. They primarily feed on small mammals, such as mice and voles.

It’s important to remember that Timber Rattlesnakes are a protected species in Canada and should not be disturbed or harmed.

If you come across one, it’s best to give it a wide berth and let it go about its business.

3. Garter Snake

Garter Snake - Animals With Stripes
by MattysFlicks is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the most common snakes in Canada is the Garter Snake, which can be found in many different regions throughout the country.

Garter snakes are easily recognizable due to their distinctive markings, which consist of long, striped patterns that run the length of their body.

These snakes are generally not dangerous to humans and are often seen in suburban or urban areas where they hunt for prey, such as small rodents and insects.

They also eat amphibians, fish, and other small reptiles. Garter snakes are active during the day and are known for basking in the sun to regulate their body temperature.

During the colder months, they often hibernate in groups with other snakes.

Garter snakes have a unique defense mechanism where they release a foul-smelling musk from their anal glands to deter predators.

They can also vibrate their tails to mimic the sound of a rattlesnake, which can help scare off potential predators.

Overall, the Garter Snake is a fascinating snake species found throughout many regions of Canada.

While they are not considered a threat to humans, respecting their habitat and giving them space when encountered in the wild is essential.

4. Eastern Racer

Eastern Racer
by Andrew Hoffman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Eastern Racer is another common type of snake found in Canada. This non-venomous snake is slender and agile, known for its ability to move quickly and escape predators.

They are typically found in open habitats like grasslands, prairies, and wetlands, where they feed on small animals like insects, rodents, and frogs.

Eastern Racers are known for their distinct coloration, ranging from light grey to olive green, with a black mask around their eyes.

Although not venomous, Eastern Racers may bite if threatened or cornered, so keeping a safe distance and not attempting to handle them is essential.

In Canada, Eastern Racers can be found in Ontario, Quebec, and parts of the Maritimes.

It’s important to remember that while there are many types of snakes in Canada, most are harmless and play an essential role in the ecosystem as predators of insects and rodents.

If you encounter a snake, giving it space and appreciating it from a distance is best.

5. Plains Hog-nosed Snake

Plains Hog-nosed Snake 
by amdubois01 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Plains Hog-nosed Snake is a unique and fascinating species found in some areas of Canada.

Known for its distinctive upturned snout, this snake has a variety of exciting adaptations.

It gets its name from its hog-like bill, which it uses to dig in the ground for its preferred prey, such as toads, frogs, and small rodents. 

Plains Hog-nosed Snakes can be found in the grasslands and prairies of central and western Canada, including parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

They are typically tan or gray, with dark blotches or spots along their bodies. Some individuals may have a pinkish hue on their undersides. 

Despite their intimidating appearance, Plains Hog-nosed Snakes are harmless to humans.

When threatened, they often perform an elaborate bluffing display, which includes flattening their necks, hissing, and even playing dead.

This behavior is meant to deter predators and potential threats. These snakes are known for their unique defense mechanism.

If all else fails, a Plains Hog-nosed Snake will roll onto its back, open its mouth, and emit a foul-smelling musk.

This behavior and its flattened appearance are often enough to make predators think twice about attacking. 

The Plains Hog-nosed Snake is a unique and vital part of Canada’s snake species.

While encounters with this snake are relatively rare, if you come across one, it’s essential to admire it from a safe distance and let it continue its important role in the ecosystem.

6. Eastern Foxsnake

Eastern Foxsnake
by astro/nature guy is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Eastern Foxsnake (Pantherophis vulpinus) is a fascinating and relatively rare snake found in certain regions of Canada, particularly in Ontario and the Great Lakes area.

This non-venomous snake is known for its vibrant colors and distinct pattern, which includes dark brown or black blotches on a light yellow or tan background.

The Eastern Foxsnake can grow large, reaching lengths up to 5 feet.

As their name suggests, Eastern Foxsnakes are commonly found in marshes, wetlands, and grasslands, where they feed on small mammals, birds, and amphibians.

They are also known to be excellent swimmers and climbers, allowing them to explore various environments.

Unfortunately, Eastern Foxsnakes are currently considered a threatened species in Canada due to habitat loss, road mortality, and collection for the pet trade.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect their populations and ensure their survival.

Encountering an Eastern Foxsnake in the wild is a rare and unique experience.

If you are lucky enough to come across one, it is essential to admire it from a safe distance and refrain from handling or disturbing it.

Let this magnificent snake continue to play its essential role in the ecosystem and contribute to the diversity of types of snakes in Canada.

7. Ring-necked Snake

Ring-necked Snake
by David A. Hofmann is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Ring-necked snake, also known as the eastern ring-necked snake, is a small and slender snake found throughout much of Canada.

They are typically between 10 and 15 inches long, with distinctive bright orange or yellow underbellies and a unique ring around their necks.

Ring-necked snakes are usually found in moist woodland habitats and are particularly fond of living near streams or other water sources.

They are active at night and are known for their secretive nature, making them difficult to spot in the wild.

While they are non-venomous and pose no threat to humans, Ring-necked snakes are known to be fierce predators of insects, earthworms, slugs, and other small invertebrates.

They are also preyed upon by larger predators, such as birds, skunks, and raccoons.

Overall, the Ring-necked snake is a fascinating and vital member of Canada’s diverse snake population.

Despite their small size and secretive habits, they are essential in controlling insect and invertebrate populations in their habitats.

8. Red-bellied Snake

Red-bellied Snake 
by Hélène.Surmont is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Red-bellied Snake is a small snake species common throughout much of eastern and central Canada.

It is often found in wooded areas and near streams or other bodies of water.

This snake typically grows to be around 20-30 cm long and is known for its distinctive red belly, contrasting with its brown or gray upper body.

Despite its name, the Red-bellied Snake is not venomous and is generally harmless to humans.

It feeds primarily on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. In terms of habitat, this snake is most often found in deciduous forests and woodlands, where it can find ample food and cover.

Like many types of snakes in Canada, the Red-bellied Snake is most active during the warmer months and may hibernate during the colder months.

If you encounter a Red-bellied Snake in the wild, observing it from a distance is best, as these animals play an essential role in their ecosystem and should not be disturbed or harmed.

9. Eastern Milksnake

Eastern Milksnake
by smashtonlee05 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another type of snake in Canada is the Eastern Milksnake. As its name suggests, this snake is known for drinking milk from cows, earning its reputation as a farmer’s friend.

It is a non-venomous species with a unique pattern of blotchy patches ranging from tan to dark brown. Its belly is often white or cream-colored, growing to four feet long.

The Eastern Milksnake is found in various habitats across eastern Canada, such as grasslands, rocky areas, and woodlands.

It preys on rodents, insects, and small amphibians. The snake can be active day and night and is known to hibernate during winter.

While the Eastern Milksnake is not venomous, it is essential to give it space and avoid handling it as it may bite when feeling threatened.

Owning an Eastern Milksnake as a pet in Canada is illegal, so it’s best to admire them from a distance and appreciate their unique role in the ecosystem.

10. Dekay’s Brown Snake

Dekay's Brown Snake
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another common type of snake in Canada is the Dekay’s Brown snake.

This small snake can be found in the southern parts of the country, typically in wooded areas and near bodies of water. 

Dekay’s Brown snake is known for its small size, as it typically only grows about 15 inches long.

Despite its small stature, this snake is a proficient hunter and feeds on various prey, including insects, small amphibians, and earthworms. 

One distinguishing characteristic of the Dekay’s Brownsnake is its coloration.

As the name suggests, it is typically brown or gray with darker brown or black spots on its back. Additionally, it has a light stripe down the center of its back. 

While the Dekay’s Brown snake is non-venomous and generally harmless to humans, giving these animals their space and not disturbing them in their natural habitats is still essential.

As with all types of snakes in Canada, it is crucial to be aware of their presence and take necessary precautions when spending time in their habitats.

11. Northern Watersnake

Northern Watersnake
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Northern Watersnake is another common species among the snakes in Canada.

As their name suggests, they are often found in or near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and streams. These snakes are non-venomous and can grow up to 4 feet long.

They are often mistaken for the venomous water moccasin.

Still, they can easily be identified by their round pupils (as opposed to the moccasin’s slit pupils) and their lack of venom glands. 

Northern Watersnakes are known for their aggressive behavior when threatened or cornered.

They often flatten their bodies, vibrate their tails, and even strike if they feel threatened.

However, they are mostly harmless and play an essential role in the ecosystem by controlling populations of fish and amphibians. 

It is important to note that it is illegal to harm or kill any native snake species in Canada, including the Northern Watersnake.

Instead, if you come across one, give it plenty of space and allow it to do business.

12. Ribbon Snake

Ribbon Snake
by Kerry Wixted is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The ribbon snake is another slender and graceful snake species found in Canada.

These snakes can be easily identified by their long, narrow bodies that have three distinct stripes running down the length of their backs.

Ribbon snakes are known for their exceptional swimming skills and can be commonly found in and around water bodies like streams, ponds, and wetlands.

While ribbon snakes may appear delicate, they are pretty active predators.

They feed on small animals like insects, fish, and other snakes. However, despite their hunting abilities, ribbon snakes are also preyed upon by larger predators like birds of prey and giant snakes.

If you’re looking to spot a ribbon snake in Canada, your best bet would be to visit wetland areas or near bodies of water.

Remember that while ribbon snakes are non-venomous, it’s always important to give these animals their space and avoid any unnecessary interactions.


In conclusion, there are several types of snakes in Canada, ranging from the venomous Prairie and Timber Rattlesnakes to the harmless Garter and Ring-necked snakes.

Each species has unique habits and characteristics, making them a fascinating topic to explore.

Despite some of these snakes being venomous, they play an essential role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems and should be respected and admired from a distance.

It is necessary always to exercise caution when encountering a snake and to remember that many species are protected by law.

The variety of types of snakes in Canada showcases the diversity of wildlife and reminds us of the importance of conservation efforts.

By learning about these fascinating creatures and respecting their habitats, we can contribute to preserving Canada’s rich natural heritage for future generations to enjoy.

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