27 Different Types of Snakes in Iowa

Types of Snakes in Iowa
Photo by Petr Ganaj on Pexels

Do you know Iowa may not be known for its diverse population of snakes? However, several types of snakes in Iowa can be found nationwide.

From large constrictors to small non-venomous species, they are a testament to the diversity of nature in the area.

In this list of some of the snakes, we will explore the different types of snakes and offer some tips for identifying them in the wild.

1. Western Massasauga

Western Massasauga
by nickavarvel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Western Massasauga is one of the types of snakes in Iowa worth highlighting.

This venomous species is native to the state and can be found in various habitats such as wetlands, marshes, and prairies.

With a distinctive appearance, the Western Massasauga typically measures between 2 and 3 feet in length and has a series of dark brown blotches along its body, bordered by lighter scales.

Despite its vicious nature, the Western Massasauga is generally docile and often tries to avoid confrontation with humans.

However, if threatened, it may strike in self-defense. It is important to exercise caution and respect when encountering this snake in the wild.

Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, the population of the Western Massasauga has been declining in recent years.

Conservation efforts are being made to protect this species and its habitat.

If you come across a Western Massasauga, observing from a distance and appreciating its role in the ecosystem is best.

Remember, snakes play an important role in controlling rodent populations and maintaining the balance of nature.

2. Eastern Massasauga

Eastern Massasauga
by Just chaos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Eastern Massasauga is another species of venomous snake found in Iowa.

They are typically small, with adults only 20 to 30 inches long.

These snakes are primarily found in wetland habitats and are known for their unique rattle, composed of small, interlocking segments. 

Like other types of snakes in Iowa, the Eastern Massasauga prefers to avoid human contact and will typically only bite when provoked.

It is important to remember to give all snakes, including the Eastern Massasauga, their space and avoid handling them if possible.

3. Timber Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The timber rattlesnake is one of Iowa’s more elusive and fascinating snakes.

These venomous snakes are known for their distinctive rattles, which they use as a warning signal when they feel threatened.

Timber rattlesnakes are found in rocky, wooded areas throughout Iowa and are particularly common in the northeast and southeast regions of the state. 

They also inhabit bluffs, cliffs, and other areas with rugged terrain.

Although timber rattlesnakes are venomous, they are not typically aggressive toward humans and will only strike if they feel threatened.

If you encounter a timber rattlesnake in the wild, it is important to give the animal plenty of space and avoid disturbing it.

In recent years, the timber rattlesnake population in Iowa has declined due to habitat loss and other factors.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect these fascinating creatures and ensure they continue to thrive in the wild.

If you are lucky enough to spot a timber rattlesnake in the wild, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and diversity of the types of snakes in Iowa.

4. Prairie Rattlesnake

Prairie Rattlesnake
by YellowstoneNPS is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Another one of the types of snake in Iowa is the Prairie Rattlesnake.

This species is typically found in the western parts of the state and is known for its distinctive rattling sound when it feels threatened.

While Prairie Rattlesnakes are venomous, their bites are relatively rare, and they generally only attack if they feel provoked or threatened.

These snakes prefer open grasslands and prairies, making their habitat relatively easy to avoid for humans.

However, if you come across a Prairie Rattlesnake in the wild, it’s important to give it plenty of space and not try to handle it.

Like many snakes, Prairie Rattlesnakes play an important role in their ecosystem by controlling rodent populations. 

They are also important predators in their own right, preying on smaller animals like mice and voles.

Overall, the Prairie Rattlesnake is just one of Iowa’s many types of snakes.

While they can be intimidating, they play an important role in the state’s natural ecosystem.

As long as humans respect these animals and give them the space they need to thrive, there is no reason why they cannot coexist peacefully in the state.

5. Eastern Copperhead

Eastern Copperhead
by smashtonlee05 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the nasty types of snakes in Iowa is the Eastern Copperhead.

These snakes have distinctive copper-colored heads and are found in the state’s southeastern part.

Although they can be dangerous, they are typically non-aggressive and will only bite if threatened.

Eastern Copperheads are pit vipers, which means they have specialized heat-sensing organs to detect prey.

They feed on rodents, insects, and small mammals. The venom of a copperhead is not usually lethal to humans, but it can cause pain, swelling, and other symptoms.

It’s important to remember that while encountering a snake in Iowa can be scary, most species are harmless and play an important role in the ecosystem.

If you encounter a snake, it’s best to give it plenty of space and avoid disturbing it. And if a snake ever bites you, seek medical attention immediately.

6. Lined Snake

Lined Snake
by Thomas Shahan 3 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another common species among the types of snakes in Iowa is the Lined Snake.

These slender snakes can grow up to 15 inches long and are commonly found in the state’s eastern half.

They are often mistaken for garter snakes due to their similar appearance but can be distinguished by their light gray or tan color with darker stripes running down their body.

Lined snakes prefer moist habitats and can often be found near streams, ponds, and marshes.

They feed on small insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. Lined snakes are not venomous and pose no threat to humans. 

Interestingly, female lined snakes lay their eggs in communal sites, where several females may lay their eggs together in the same spot.

This behavior helps protect the eggs from predators and helps maintain a consistent temperature for proper development.

Overall, the Lined Snake is a common and harmless species of snake found in Iowa’s diverse snake population.

7. Smooth Earth Snake

Smooth Earth Snake
by cygnus921 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Smooth Earth Snake is a small species of snake found in various habitats throughout Iowa, including forests, fields, and wetlands.

This snake is typically around 6-10 inches long and has a thin body with a smooth, shiny appearance.

Its coloration can vary, typically brown or gray, with darker stripes along its back, can vary.

One interesting fact about the Smooth Earth Snake is that it is primarily nocturnal, meaning it is most active at night.

This makes it difficult to spot during the day, but it is harmless and non-venomous if you come across one.

Although not as well-known as some of the other types of snakes in Iowa, the Smooth Earth Snake plays an important role in the ecosystem by eating insects, spiders, and other small animals. 

Its small size makes it an easy target for predators, so it relies on camouflage and burrowing to avoid danger.

The Smooth Earth Snake is a fascinating species that adds to Iowa’s snakes’ diversity.

While it may not be as showy or intimidating as some of its larger counterparts, it is an important part of the state’s wildlife and deserves our respect and admiration.

8. Western Ribbon Snake

Western Ribbon Snake
by cricketsblog is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of Iowa’s lesser-known types of snakes is the Western Ribbon Snake.

These slender, non-venomous snakes are easily identifiable by their distinct black and yellow stripes, which run along the length of their body.

They can grow up to three feet long and are often found near water sources like streams and ponds.

Despite their name, Western Ribbon Snakes can be found throughout much of the eastern United States, including Iowa.

They are most active daily and feed primarily on insects and small frogs. During the winter months, they hibernate underground or in other protected areas.

While not commonly encountered by humans, Western Ribbon Snakes can play an important role in maintaining ecological balance by keeping insect populations in check.

It is important to respect all types of snakes in Iowa and give them space to go about their daily lives.

If you encounter a snake, observing it from a distance and avoiding disturbing it is best.

9. Plains Garter Snake

Plains Garter Snake
by Greg Schechter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Plains Garter Snake is one of the most common types of snakes in Iowa and can be found throughout the state.

They are easily recognized by their bright yellow or orange stripes, which run down the length of their dark green or brown bodies.

These stripes vary in thickness and brightness; some Plains Garter Snakes may have no stripes. 

They are also known for their slender build and relatively small size, typically reaching only about two feet long.

Despite their prevalence, humans do not often encounter Plains Garter Snakes, as they are shy and avoid confrontation. 

They are most active during the daytime and are commonly found in grassy areas near water, such as marshes or streams.

Plains Garter Snakes primarily eat small prey such as insects, worms, and small amphibians.

The Plains Garter Snake is a fascinating and harmless member of Iowa’s diverse array of snakes.

Their vibrant stripes and unassuming nature make them an interesting addition to the state’s wildlife population.

10. Common Garter Snake

Common Garter Snake
by brian.gratwicke is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Common Garter Snake is another prevalent species among the types of snakes in Iowa.

These snakes are known for their long and slender bodies, reaching lengths of up to three feet.

They can be found throughout the state in various habitats, including grasslands, forests, and wetlands. 

One of the distinctive features of the Common Garter Snake is its coloration.

They have a dark green or brown body with three distinct yellow or greenish stripes running down their back.

These stripes may vary in thickness and brightness; some individuals may even lack stripes altogether.

This variation in coloration adds to the diversity of this species in Iowa.

Despite their prevalence, Common Garter Snakes are not typically aggressive and usually flee rather than bite if encountered.

They primarily feed on small prey, such as insects, worms, and amphibians, and play an important role in maintaining ecological balance.

The Common Garter Snake is a fascinating and harmless member of the diverse snake population in Iowa.

Their adaptability to various habitats and unassuming nature make them a common sight for nature enthusiasts and an integral part of Iowa’s ecosystem.

11. Brown Snake

Another one of the more common types of snake in Iowa is the Brown Snake.

These small and slender snakes are usually brown or gray, with a lighter belly.

They can be found throughout the state, living in gardens, fields, and wooded areas.

Brown Snakes are harmless to humans and are primarily insectivores, feeding on small insects such as earthworms, slugs, and snails.

They are also known for their ability to burrow into the soil, making them adept at hiding from predators. 

Despite their small size and relatively docile nature, Brown Snakes play an important role in their ecosystems as a food source for larger predators and as pollinators for certain plants.

If you come across a Brown Snake while hiking or gardening in Iowa, it’s best to leave it be and appreciate its important role in the environment.

12. Redbelly Snake

Northern Redbelly Snake - types of snakes in connecticut
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Redbelly Snake is small and harmless in Iowa and is one of the most commonly found types of snake.

They are usually around 8-10 inches long and have a distinctive reddish-orange belly, which is where they get their name from.

Redbelly Snakes are usually found in forested areas or near bodies of water, and they feed on insects, spiders, and small invertebrates. 

They are active during the day and are often seen basking in the sun on rocks or logs.

Despite their small size, Redbelly Snakes play an important role in Iowa’s ecosystem, as they help control the populations of small animals like insects and spiders.

If you come across a Redbelly Snake in Iowa, don’t be afraid – they are harmless and beneficial!

13. Graham’s Crayfish Snake

Graham's Crayfish Snake
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Graham’s Crayfish Snake, also known as the Northern Crayfish Snake, is one of Iowa’s lesser-known snakes.

These snakes are non-venomous and are typically found in or near bodies of water where they prey on crayfish, which is where their name comes from. 

These snakes have a unique look with their reddish-brown color and distinctive markings, including a black stripe that runs down the center of their back. 

They can grow up to two feet long and are generally considered harmless to humans.

Despite their relatively unknown status, Graham’s Crayfish Snakes play an important role in their ecosystem by controlling crayfish populations.

Unfortunately, their habitats are threatened by human development and pollution, so it’s important to protect their environments to ensure their survival.

If you ever come across a Graham’s Crayfish Snake or any other type of snake in Iowa, it’s important to remember to leave them alone and let them go about their business.

It’s always best to admire them from a safe distance and appreciate their unique place in Iowa’s diverse ecosystem.

14. Western Rat Snake

Western Rat Snake
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another common type of snake found in Iowa is the Western Rat Snake.

These snakes can grow up to six feet long and are known for their distinctive black and yellow markings.

They are non-venomous and are often found near buildings and other artificial structures where they feed on rodents and other small animals.

Western Rat Snakes are typically active during the day and are known for their climbing abilities.

They are often seen basking in the sun on rocks or tree limbs. While not harming humans, they may become aggressive if threatened or cornered.

Like many other types of snakes in Iowa, the Western Rat Snake plays an important role in the ecosystem by controlling the populations of small rodents and other animals. 

While some may be afraid of snakes, it’s important to remember that these creatures are an important part of the natural world and should be respected and protected.

If you encounter a Western Rat Snake or any other type of snake in Iowa, it’s best to leave it alone and admire it from a safe distance.

15. Plain belly Water Snake

The Plain belly Water Snake is one of the many types of snakes in Iowa you might encounter if you’re near water sources.

As its name suggests, this snake has a plain-looking belly, which is yellow or light cream. However, its back and sides are typically darker, with dark brown or black blotches. 

It may also be that its head is slightly wider than its neck, giving it a distinct shape.

These snakes are usually found near water sources, such as rivers, ponds, and streams, where they hunt for fish, frogs, and other small aquatic animals. 

Although they’re not venomous, they may try to bite if they feel threatened, so it’s best to give them plenty of space.

Overall, the Plain Belly Water Snake is an interesting addition to the snakes in Iowa, and its unique appearance and habits make it a fascinating creature to observe from a distance.

16. Sooth Green Snake

The Smooth Green Snake is another species of snake in Iowa. This snake is known for its beautiful, bright green coloration.

It is a small snake species, usually about 20-30 inches long. The Smooth Green Snake is a harmless species found throughout the state in grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands. 

One interesting fact about the Smooth Green Snake is that it is known to have a particular diet, feeding primarily on small insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, and spiders.

Despite their small size, they are excellent climbers, which makes it easier for them to capture their prey. 

If you come across a Smooth Green Snake in Iowa, you may want to observe it from a distance.

Although they are harmless to humans, they may become stressed or agitated if handled.

Remember always to respect the natural habitat of these beautiful creatures and enjoy the variety of types of snakes in Iowa.

17. Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake
by molajen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Northern Water Snake is another species that can be found in Iowa.

These snakes are typically found near bodies of water, such as rivers or lakes.

They are commonly mistaken for venomous water moccasins, but Northern Water Snakes are non-venomous.

These snakes have a brown or gray body with darker brown or black stripes along their back; their belly is typically light-colored with darker spots.

Northern Water Snakes can grow up to four feet long and are known to be strong swimmers.

While Northern Water Snakes are non-venomous, they are still known to be aggressive if they feel threatened.

It is best to admire these snakes and avoid handling them from a distance. It is important to remember that the Northern Water Snake is just one of many types of snakes in Iowa.

As with all wildlife, respecting these animals and their habitats is important.

18. Diamondback Water Snake

Diamondback Water Snake
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Diamondback Water Snake is a non-venomous species of snake found in Iowa.

These snakes have a distinctive diamond-shaped pattern on their back and a thick, muscular body that helps them easily move through the water.

They can grow up to four feet long and are commonly found in rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water.

Despite their intimidating name, Diamondback Water Snakes are harmless to humans. They feed on fish, frogs, and other small aquatic creatures.

Like other types of snakes in Iowa, they play an important role in the local ecosystem by helping to control the populations of their prey.

Diamondback Water Snakes are often mistaken for the venomous Cottonmouth Snake, which is not found in Iowa.

However, if you encounter a snake and are unsure of its species, it is best to keep your distance and not attempt to handle it.

The Diamondback water snake is an interesting and important species in Iowa’s ecosystem.

Its unique patterns and impressive swimming abilities make it a fascinating creature to observe from a safe distance.

19. Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
by nickavarvel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another type of snake you may encounter in Iowa is the Eastern Hognosed Snake.

These snakes are known for their upturned nose, which they use to dig in the soil for their prey of toads and frogs.

Eastern hog-nosed snakes can vary from brown to gray and even reddish-orange.

They can grow up to 3 feet long and are typically found in grasslands, prairies, and open woods.

While these snakes are not venomous, they may puff up and hiss if threatened. It’s important to respect all types of snakes in Iowa and avoid disturbing them if possible.

20. Eastern Milk Snake

Eastern Milk Snake
by Will_89 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the most fascinating types of snakes in Iowa is the Eastern Milk Snake.

This non-venomous snake can be found throughout the state, primarily in wooded areas and near farmlands.

Eastern Milk Snakes are known for their distinctive coloring, which consists of a grayish-brown body with black-bordered reddish-brown blotches running down their backs. 

They also have a creamy white underside, which is how they got their name.

These snakes typically grow 2-4 feet long, making them a medium-sized species.

Eastern Milk Snakes are also known for mimicking venomous species, such as rattlesnakes and copperheads, by flattening their heads and vibrating their tails when threatened. 

However, it’s important to note that they are not venomous and pose no harm to humans.

Regarding diet, Eastern Milk Snakes primarily feed on small rodents, such as mice and voles.

They also consume other small animals, such as frogs and insects.

Overall, the Eastern Milk Snake is a unique and fascinating species that adds to the diversity of the types of snakes in Iowa.

While they may not be as well-known as some of the state’s other species, they are worth learning more about and observing in their natural habitats.

21. Prairie Kingsnake

Prairie Kingsnake
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Prairie Kingsnake is one of the many types of snakes in Iowa that you may come across.

These snakes can be found in the state’s grasslands, prairies, and open woodlands.

Their brown or grayish coloring often identifies them with darker brown spots on their backs. 

The Prairie Kingsnake is non-venomous and is important in controlling rodent populations in their habitats.

Although they may look intimidating, they are not aggressive and usually flee when confronted.

22. Speckled Kingsnake

Speckled Kingsnake
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Speckled Kingsnake is a unique species among the types of snakes in Iowa.

This snake has a distinctive pattern of dark brown or black speckles on its body, which helps it blend into its environment.

It can be found in various habitats, including grasslands, woodlands, and urban areas. 

The Speckled Kingsnake is a non-venomous species that feeds on small mammals, birds, and other reptiles.

It is a fascinating snake to observe, with its beautiful markings and ability to adapt to different environments.

23. Plains Hognose Snake

Another fascinating species of the types of snake in Iowa is the Plains Hognose Snake.

These snakes can be found in grasslands, prairies, and sandy areas and are known for their upturned snouts and tendency to play dead when threatened. 

Their diet consists of frogs, toads, and small rodents. Plains Hognose Snakes have a unique defensive mechanism of spreading their necks and hissing loudly to intimidate predators.

They are non-venomous and harmless to humans but still play an important role in maintaining the ecosystem.

24. Western Worm Snake

Western Worm Snake
by dmills727 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Western Worm Snake is one of Iowa’s lesser-known types of snakes.

This small, non-venomous snake is often mistaken for a worm due to its slender and worm-like appearance.

It has a glossy brown or black body, typically found in woodlands and forests. 

The Western Worm Snake primarily feeds on earthworms and other small invertebrates.

Although it may not be as eye-catching as some other snakes in Iowa, it is still an important member of the state’s ecosystem.

25. North American Racer

North American Racer
by CaliforniaDFW is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The North American Racer is one of Iowa’s most common types of snakes.

They are also known as “black racers” due to their dark coloration.

These snakes are non-venomous and can be found in various habitats, including grasslands, woodlands, and urban areas. 

They are fast and agile and are known for their ability to climb trees and swim.

If you see a North American Racer in Iowa, admire it from a distance and let it go about its business.

26. Ringneck Snake

Ringneck Snake
by brian.gratwicke is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Ringneck Snake is another one of the type of snake in Iowa.

These small snakes are known for their unique coloration, which includes a dark body and a bright orange or yellow underside.

They also have a distinctive ring around their neck, which gives them their name. 

Ringneck snakes are harmless and prefer to hide in moist environments, such as under rocks or leaf litter.

They primarily eat small insects and earthworms. While humans do not commonly see them, they can be found in various habitats throughout the state.

27. Gopher Snake

Gopher Snake
by sonstroem is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The next on my list of the types of snakes in Iowa is the Gopher Snake.

These snakes are often mistaken for rattlesnakes due to their similar appearance and behavior in the western part of the state.

However, Gopher Snakes are non-venomous and pose no threat to humans. 

They are great hunters and can eat rodents, birds, and other small animals.

Their distinctive yellow or tan color with dark blotches and stripes makes them easy to identify.

Keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures during your Iowa adventures!

Conclusion

In conclusion, Iowa is home to a diverse array of snakes.

From the plain belly water snake to the eastern milk snake, each species has unique characteristics and plays a vital role in the ecosystem.

Respecting and observing these snakes from a distance is important, as they are integral to Iowa’s natural environment.

Whether you encounter them near water sources or grasslands, these types of snakes in Iowa are fascinating creatures contributing to the state’s biodiversity.

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