17 Different Types of Snakes in Minnesota

Types of Snakes in Minnesota
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Minnesota is home to 17 species of snakes, some of which are nonvenomous and some are venomous.

Though rare in the North Star State, the two poisonous species should not cause undue concern.

Notwithstanding their variations, all of these types of snakes in Minnesota support the fragile habitats that they live in, exhibiting a unique range of captivating traits and behaviors.

Our list should be helpful when it comes to learning the ins and outs of the various types of snakes in Minnesota, whether you’re looking for a new pet or need a helping guide for the next time you’re surveying the state’s varied landscape.

1. Smooth Green Snake

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

The brilliant green Smooth Green Snake is one of the types of snakes in Minnesota that lives in meadows and marshes.

It’s a tiny snake that usually grows to be between 14 and 20 inches long. This species is smooth-scaled and of slender form. 

The Smooth Green Snake’s vivid green coloring helps it blend in with its grassland surroundings.

These types of snakes in Minnesota have big eyes and short heads. The main food source for smooth green snakes is a variety of insects and spiders. 

They are renowned for their swift and nimble movements, which enable them to catch their prey effectively.

Mostly, these snakes are calm and non-aggressive around people or possible predators. They could try to flee or flatten their bodies to look bigger if they feel threatened.

Tail autotomy, the capacity of smooth green snakes to lose their tails when seized, is another characteristic of these snakes.

2. Northern Watersnake

Northern Watersnake
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The slow-moving or standing water found in ponds, lakes, vernal pools, marshes, and leisurely-flowing rivers and streams is preferred by northern water snakes.

Most typically, they are observed lounging on logs or rocks in or close to bodies of water.

During the day, these types of snakes in Minnesota search at the water’s edge and in shallow water, where they mostly consume fish and amphibians.

They seize their meal and devour it fast while it’s still alive! Their saliva has a weak anticoagulant that can make bites bleed, exacerbating the injury.

Water snakes rely on these vital defense systems to fend off predators like foxes, opossums, snapping turtles, raccoons, and birds of prey.

3. Eastern Yellowbelly Racer Snake

Eastern Yellowbelly Racer Snake
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When they get older, yellow-bellied racers lose their pattern. They are mostly found in southeast Minnesota. As these types of snakes in Minnesota age, their color changes. 

Therefore, it is likely a young eastern yellowbelly racer if it is tan or cream with brown markings on a slender body and short stature.

When fully grown, Eastern Yellowbelly Racers have a light cream or tan belly and a solid gray-green color.

Although not poisonous, these snakes may bite if you try to handle or frighten them.

As long as you keep your distance, they are quite swift and are more likely to slip away from people than bite them.

4. Plain Hog-Nosed Snake

Plains Hog-nosed Snake - Types of Snakes in Canada 
by amdubois01 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

A species of great interest is the Plains Hog-Nosed Snake. It exhibits behavior that is comparable to that of cobras.

Because it doesn’t bite very often, it gives off an illusion of more threat as it puffs out its sides and hisses. 

These types of snakes in Minnesota will pretend to be dead to scare off possible predators if that doesn’t succeed. The state has designated it as a Special Concern species.

5. DeKays Brown Snake

Dekay's Brown Snake - Types of Snakes in Canada
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Small brown, nonvenomous snakes known as DeKay’s brown snakes, named for American biologist James Ellsworth De Kay, can be found in various environments in southern Minnesota.

They live in urban areas, savannas, prairies, and woodlands.

These types of snakes in Minnesota are also excellent pets. Their main food sources are earthworms, snails, and slugs.

6. Prairie Ring-Necked Snake

Prairie Ring-Necked Snake
by smashtonlee05 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The northern ring-necked snake and the prairie ring-necked snake, the second of the two ring-necked subspecies, have an identical appearance. They also eat the same foods: lizards, slugs, snails, and earthworms.

The prairie ring-necked snake is unique because it exclusively inhabits the southeastern part of Minnesota.

7. Bullsnake

by USFWS Mountain Prairie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Large snakes like the bullsnake are common in regions with significant rodent populations. It is one of Minnesota’s largest types of snakes, reaching a maximum length of 6 feet.

This species has smooth scales and a sturdy body. The Bullsnake’s coloring can vary.

However, it typically has a yellow or light brown background with black or dark brown spots. These types of snakes in Minnesota have triangular-shaped heads.

Grasslands, prairies, and agricultural areas are the typical habitats of bullsnakes, as these places are rich in rodent prey.

Although they are found all over Minnesota, the central and western regions are where they are most prevalent. 

These snakes, renowned for their capacity to adapt to various environments, are frequently observed lounging in the sun or lurking behind logs or rocks.

They may hibernate in the winter and are active throughout the warmer months.

Being constrictors, bullsnakes immobilize their prey with their strong bodies. They mostly eat rodents, such as mice and rats, but they also eat eggs, birds, and other small mammals. 

Generally calm, these snakes may frequently attempt to hide or flee from people or other possible predators. They may flatten their bodies to seem larger or hiss loudly when attacked.

Bullsnakes are good for agricultural areas and are crucial in managing rodent populations.

8. Red-sided Garter Snake

Red-sided Garter Snake
by Greg Schechter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The red-sided garter snake is also on our list of types of snakes in Minnesota. They inhabit a variety of habitats, just like other garter snakes

Look for them in farms, wetlands, woodlands, shrublands, and rocky places in western Minnesota. They adore eating leeches, frogs, and earthworms! OMG!

Some places don’t have enough females to support all the males once they emerge from hibernation.

During these instances, “mating frenzies” occur, leading to the discovery of several snakes in a group.

Red-sided Garter Snakes must hibernate below the frost line to survive the winter. Finding appropriate places might be challenging, depending on the area in which they are situated.

Therefore, hundreds or thousands of snakes can find refuge in the few suitable hibernation dens!

9. Ring- Necked Snake

Ring-necked Snake - Types of Snakes in Delaware
by smashtonlee05 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Throughout the nation, one of the most prevalent types of snakes in Minnesota is the ringneck snake. They typically reside in Minnesota along the Wisconsin border.

Ringneck snakes can be found from the Canadian to the Iowan border. They never reside farther than 50 miles into Minnesota, though, and most sightings are in counties that border Wisconsin or Lake Superior.

The three rings that round these snakes’ necks can always be recognized by their heads. Red, tan, or yellow rings are possible; they frequently match the color of the belly. 

Although they make for fascinating visuals, it’s possible that you won’t ever encounter a ringneck snake.

They prefer grassy places near woodlands, brush piles, and wooded locations; nevertheless, they are nocturnal and prefer to burrow into the earth or dwell underground whenever possible.

Because ringneck snakes are excellent at hiding, you can be in their vicinity without ever realizing it.

10. Brown Snake

Brown Tree Snake - Types of Snakes in Hawaii
by karen_neoh is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The brown snake is a tame and adaptable creature that thrives in a variety of settings. That aspect has been a major reason for its widespread diffusion in the US.

It is a diurnal reptile that prefers to hide away and be by itself. It consumes many foods, including frogs, insects, and earthworms. Although it isn’t poisonous, it will protect itself if necessary.

11. Lines Snake

Lines Snake
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There is only one place in the state’s extreme southwest where the Lined Snake has been observed. As a result, Minnesota has designated it as a Special Concern species. 

It favors meadows and prairies, where earthworms are the main food source. These types of snakes in Minnesota are most active at night and after rain when it is easier for them to get their prey, as one might imagine.

12. Eastern Milk Snake

Eastern Milk Snake - types of snakes in connecticut
by Doug_McGrady is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Given that they are frequently seen in barns, the Eastern Milksnake got its unusual name from an old superstition that associated them with milking cows! This is obviously untrue.

Instead, the abundance of mice, some of their preferred prey, is probably why they are found inside barns.

Eastern Milk Snakes are members of the kingsnake family and can be found in southern Minnesota in various habitats, fields, forests, agricultural regions, and rocky outcrops.

Being semi-secretive, these stunning snakes spend most of their time underground. Look beneath stones, logs, planks, and other trash; you could discover one.

Mice and shrews are among the tiny mammals the Eastern Milksnake prefers to eat.

On the other hand, they will also eat a variety of prey, such as fish, amphibians, lizards, snakes, fish eggs, earthworms, snails, insects, and carrion.

13. Western Fox Snake

Western Fox Snake
by Wildreturn is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In Minnesota, western fox snakes live in a variety of environments. Search for them in woodlands close to water, marshes, grasslands, and agricultural regions. 

They are frequently discovered in or around barns and abandoned buildings since plenty of hiding places and rodents exist. Being fairly daring snakes, they frequently wander close to people or other animals.

The light-shaded area shows the range of Western fox snakes, and the dark-shaded area represents the range of snakes in Minnesota.

Despite the Mississippi River’s historical boundaries, people from both sides live there.

Although they prefer to eat rodents, birds, and bird eggs, these rat snakes will also eat frogs. Being constrictors, they suffocate larger prey with their coils before eating it.

Smaller prey, however, can be swallowed whole without experiencing restriction.

14. Timber Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake - Types of Snakes in Georgia
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Crotalus, often known as the timber rattlesnake, is found in Iowa. Despite being extremely poisonous, timber rattlesnakes are uncommon in Minnesota.

The fact that rattlesnakes are restricted to the southeast counties of Minnesota that border Wisconsin and Iowa should not be overlooked.

Fillmore, Houston, Winona, and Olmstead counties are among them. There have been no reports of timber rattlesnake sightings in the great part of the state.

If you spot a timber rattlesnake in the wild, it will look spectacular and scary. Their bodies are heavy and broad, not as lengthy as you might assume.

Their primary hues are usually yellow, gray, or extremely dark, nearly black. A characteristic cross pattern will run the length of their bodies.

Because timber snakes are rattlesnakes, they will erupt in a rattle and shake their tails to warn of an approaching predator. They could even puff up or elevate their heads to show they are not fearful.

Although they are rarely aggressive, timber rattlesnakes have a very high venom content, and their bites can be lethal in some situations.

As such, you should always exercise caution if you encounter one of these types of snakes in Minnesota.

Never try removing the venom from a timber rattlesnake bite using heat or ice. You should instead go to a hospital with antivenom as soon as feasible.

15. Western Massasauga Rattlesnake

Western Massasauga Rattlesnake
by amdubois01 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Northern Missouri is home to a juvenile western Massasauga rattlesnake or Sistrurus. The colors and patterns of massasaugas range from tan to gray to brown, with patches of dark brown or black.

One of Minnesota’s poisonous types of snakes is the Massasauga rattlesnake, found in the state’s southeast.

Note that sightings have been extremely infrequent, and no confirmed breeding colonies exist in the state.

The massasauga rattlesnake is a little species that typically grows to a maximum length of two feet. This snake prefers a damp environment.

Therefore, it tends to congregate among marshlands and the edges of lakes and ponds. They can occasionally be seen in prairie or wet grassland regions.

The Massasauga snake really dislikes humans and hides in the dense grass and darkness. Except when you tread on one by accident or startle one, they will run away from humans rather than attack. It might then attack out of fear.

16. Common Garter Snake

Common Garter Snake or Valley Garter Snake
by Franco Folini is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In Minnesota, grasslands and prairies near freshwater sources are nearly always home to plains garter snakes.

They have a sizable population and do well in environments that humans have altered. They may be seen near vacant lands, rubbish piles, and abandoned structures.

Of all the snake species, this one is thought to be the most tolerant of cold! On warmer winter days, they will even emerge from their hibernation.

The main food sources for Plains Garter Snakes are tiny frogs, snails, and earthworms.

Nevertheless, they have also been seen feeding small mammals and birds, such as bank swallows and eastern meadowlarks.

17. Western Rat Snake

Western Rat Snake - Types of Snakes in Texas
by 2ndPeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Large and tree-dwelling, the western rat snake is the last on our blog types of snakes in Minnesota.

A black dorsal flecked with lighter hues makes up their coloring. There are occasionally mid-dorsal spots on them. 

The white chin is the most distinguishing characteristic. Contrary to their name, western rat snakes inhabit the state’s southeast region, where oak woodlands are found.

Their main sources of food are birds and rodents.


Minnesota has a wide type of snakes, each with distinct traits and habits.

These types of snakes in Minnesota have adapted to various environments and niches, ranging from venomous species like the Eastern Massasauga and Timber Rattlesnake to non-venomous species like the Eastern Garter Snake and Northern Watersnake. 

By regulating the numbers of rodents and other prey species, they perform significant roles in their particular ecosystems.

Even though some of these types of snakes in Minnesota can be frightening, it’s important to recognize and value their roles in the natural environment.

We can live in harmony with these amazing snakes in Minnesota if we respect their habitats and habits.

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