11 Snakes Found in Michigan (With Pictures)


Michigan is home to a wide variety of interesting wildlife. Among these animals are elk, deer, bears, coyotes, and of course, all different types of snakes. There are a few misconceptions about the kinds of snakes found in Michigan. Despite what you’ve probably heard, there is only one venomous snake that is found in Michigan and the rest are practically harmless to humans. Let’s take a look at some of the snake species you might come across while staying in Michigan.

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11 Snakes Found in Michigan

1. Eastern Garter Snake

Species: Thamnophis sirtalis
Longevity: 3 – 4 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 18 – 54 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

You haven’t fully experiences Michigan wildlife until you accidentally stumbled across a Garter snake. These are one of the most common snakes to be found in Michigan. They only grow a few feet long but are identified by the orange and brown stripes that run along the length of their bodies. Gartner snakes hang around grassy areas but are active in all parts of the state. They stick to eating small animals like mice and frogs, but they’ve been known to catch the occasional fish or bird, too. These snakes are non-venomous, and they start to scurry away the moment they see a human.


2. Butler’s Garter Snake

Species: Thamnophis butleri
Longevity: 6 – 10 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 15 – 29 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Butler’s Gartner snake is another common species that prefer wet meadows, prairies, marshy ponds, lakes, and other moist and grassy habitats. They have three yellow and orange stripes on their black, brown, or olive-colored bodies. These Garter snakes are smaller than the Eastern Garter with longer heads. Because of their small size, their main source of protein is earthworms.


3. Northern Ribbon Snake

Species: Thamnophis butleri
Longevity: 7 – 10 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 6 – 10 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

This is one of several water snakes in Michigan. The Northern Ribbon snake is almost always somewhere along the edge of a bog, stream, lake, or pond where there isn’t a lot of vegetation. Even though they spend time in the water, they also enjoy basking on a rock in the sunshine. People often confused the Norther Ribbon with Gartner snakes because of their three vertical stripes. They don’t get very big, so they mainly eat frosh, fish, and insects. This is another species that is likely to flee the moment they sense you’re around.


4. Northern Ring-necked Snake

Ring-necked snake
Image Credit: Heptinstall, Shutterstock
Species: Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
Longevity: 6 – 10 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 10 – 20 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

A snake that is a bit harder to find around Michigan is the Norther Ring-necked snake. They are so elusive that even the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has a hard time monitoring their numbers. These are another small snake species that is usually a solid color of black, blue, or gray with a signature, bright yellow ring around its neck. These snakes are typically spotted in woody areas and only like to come out at night.


5. Northern Red-bellied Snake

Northern Red-bellied Snake_Mike Wilhelm_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Mike Wilhelm, Shutterstock
Species: Storeria occipitomaculata
Longevity: 2 – 4 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 8 – 16 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

While the Northern Red-bellied snake is beautiful, they almost never do well in captivity. They also have a short lifespan, so you won’t get to appreciate them for very long. This snake species tops out at 16 inches long and makes home around forests and grassy fields. The markings on them aren’t very impressive at first. That is, until you spot the vibrant red underbellies. These snakes are non-venomous and stick to eating small foods like slugs.


6. Brown Snake

Species: Stoteria dekayi
Longevity: 7 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 9 – 20 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

Another small snake species you’re likely to find slithering around wooded areas of Michigan is the Northern Brown snake. Adult Brown snakes are very light in color and only some have even lighter stripes on their sides. Like many of the other small snake species here, they stick to eating worms and small insects but make a nice meal for even larger snakes, frogs, weasels, and cats. They are also some of the only Michigan snakes that thrive in captivity.


7. Kirtland’s Snake

Species: Clonophis kirtlandii
Longevity: 5 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 14 – 25 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

Although they’re there, you’ll have a hard time finding the Kirtland’s snake. Even the Michigan Department of Natural Resources can’t seem to find these snakes in large numbers, and they’ve been put on the endangered species list. These snakes are known for their speckled red, brown, and gray bodies. They have a small range across midwestern states like Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and some parts of Kentucky. Their vivid colors make them look dangerous, but they rarely stick around long enough to do any damage to humans.


8. Queen Snake

Species: Regina septemvittata
Longevity: 5 – 10 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: No
Adult size: 13 – 36 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

Unfortunately, the Queen snake is one that naturalists are particularly concerned about. These snakes have lost a lot of their natural habitats because they stick only to small streams with rocky bottoms. They eat minnow, tadpoles, crayfish, and other small water creatures. The Queen snakes has a medium-sized, dark gray body with lighter areas around their throat and chin.


9. Smooth Green Snake

Smooth Green Snake
Image Credit: Kristian Bell, Shutterstock
Species: Opheodrys vernalis
Longevity: 4 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 11 – 26 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

Of all the Michigan snake species, the easiest to identify is the Smooth Green snake. These snakes are small but know how to make an entrance. They have smooth, green skin and stick mainly to a diet of insects. Because of their colorful bodies, they are hunted by predators like hawks, herons, bears, foxes, and cats. There aren’t a lot of Smooth Green snakes left in Michigan, but they are usually found in grassy, open habitats like pastures, savannas, and meadows.


10. Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake_Ryan M. Bolton_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Ryan M. Bolton, Shutterstock
Species: Heterodon platirhinos
Longevity: 10 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 20 – 45 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

People assume that the Eastern Hog-nosed snake is venomous simply because of the way it acts. When cornered, they flatten out their head and neck to give them the appearance of a cobra. They’ve also been seen rolling on their backs and playing dead. Even though they do have venom, it isn’t dangerous unless you’re a frog or salamander. Eastern hog-nosed snaked reach up to 45 inches in length and don’t show off with a lot of exciting colors.


11. Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

Species: Sistrurus catenatus
Longevity: 20 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: No
Adult size: 15 – 24 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The only venomous snakes in Michigan are the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes. You might have heard them called by the name of “swamp rattlers”. These snakes are shy and try to avoid humans at all costs. A sighting of one of these is rare today because of habitat loss. They are now listed under the Endangered Species Act. Even though a bite from a rattlesnake is rare in Michigan, they do happen and must be taken seriously. If you happen to see one, keep your distance and do not approach it under any circumstances. If bit, call 911 or go to a hospital immediately.

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Conclusion

Snakes are found in every state across the country and Michigan is no exception. While some people believe that the moist environments are what draw so many snakes here, there aren’t many that are going to do a whole lot of damage if they bite you. There is truly only one venomous snake living in Michigan and even those are rare to spot.

Learn about the snakes in different regions with one of these related posts:


Featured Image Credit: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay





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