Snakes Of Michigan

Residents of the Great Lakes know that Michigan is a haven for a diverse range of animals. Michigan is a moderate state with wilderness regions rich in lakes, meadows, and woods where animals may be found thriving.

There are 18 different species of snakes in Michigan, but only one of them is poisonous. Because of this, Michigan is a great place to safely learn about snakes in their natural habitat.

The most prevalent types of snakes in Michigan and all you need to know about them are included in this article. So if you’re prepared to don your snake charm, read on to find out more.

Kirtland’s snake

The Kirtland’s snake is a little snake that not many people ever see, despite the fact that it enjoys the water and may come into touch with swimmers, boaters, and hikers across Michigan. Almost all of the states where this kind of snake is found, including Michigan, have it designated as a threatened species.

The Kirtland’s snake looks scary due to its dark brown or black body and dark markings, yet unlike many other snakes in Michigan, it does not pose any danger to people. It is non-venomous and avoids contact with people by hiding.

The southern region of the state, often 75 miles or less from the borders of Indiana and Ohio, is where Kirtland’s snakes may be found. Along Lake Michigan, their range extends further north.

Eastern Garter Snake

Until you unintentionally come upon a garter snake in Michigan, you haven’t truly experienced the state’s biodiversity. One of the most prevalent snake species in Michigan is this one. Although they only reach a maximum length of a few feet, their distinctive orange and brown stripes help to identify them.

Although they are active across the state, gartner snakes like to hang out in grassy places. They mostly catch mice and frogs to eat, although they have also been known to catch fish and birds on occasion. These snakes are not poisonous, and the soon they spot a person, they begin to scamper away.

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

In the US, Michigan is home to the majority of Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes. They may be found throughout the majority of the state’s counties, including Washtenaw, Livingstone, Jackson, and Oakland. They continue to benefit from the exceptional environment the state offers, despite a recent drop in their number.

The species can reach lengths of between 18.5 and 30 inches. They have a broad, gray or tan body with a row of huge, spherical black or brown spots on them. Some even have a row of two or three more spots running down the sides of their bodies and spots running down the center of their backs.

Massasaugas are poisonous snakes that belong to the rattlesnake family and have the recognizable rattler at the ends of their tails.

The shy nature of these snakes causes them to slither away from people in an effort to avoid contact. Because of this, they seldom bite unless surprised or deliberately provoked.

Small animals, snakes, salamanders, and birds make up their food. The females breed in the spring and fall, while the young are born in the summer.

Rat snakes

In Michigan, there are two types of rat snakes that you could encounter: black and gray. They are the biggest snakes in Michigan, and both varieties of rat snakes are enormous.

They may grow to be six feet long or longer and have big, hefty bodies. Rat snakes are fake animals. These snakes also like rapidly flicking their tails to simulate the rattle of a rattlesnake.

Rat snakes also pretend to be constricted in order to appear more frightening than they actually are. They are not poisonous, so unless you startle them or approach too closely, they won’t harm you.

Because they are curious creatures, rat snakes may not run away from people straight away, but after they realize you pose no threat, they will often quietly slink away.

They mostly consume rats and mice, which might be advantageous for people. So don’t let these frauds to frighten you. They won’t harm you, and in fact, they’ll aid in preventing mice and rats from getting into the area. The southern section of the Lower Peninsula is where rat snakes may be found.

Butler’s Garter Snake

Another frequent species that favors marshy ponds, lakes, prairies, wet meadows, and other grassy and damp areas is the Butler’s Gartner snake.

On their bodies, which are either black, brown, or olive in hue, are three yellow and orange stripes. These Garter snakes have longer heads and are smaller than Eastern Garters. The primary source of protein for these little creatures is earthworms.

Gray Rat Snake

The largest species of snake found in Michigan is the gray rat snake, which may be found in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula. Their special concern designation is a result of the state’s shrinking population, nevertheless.

The species is one of the longest snakes in Michigan and the whole nation, growing to a length of 42 to 72 inches (106–182 cm). They are gray in color with streaks of a deeper gray color running along their bodies. Their underbelly is light gray with darker markings in a checkerboard pattern.

Delink additional rat snakes. Even as adults, they still have their youthful colors.

The Gray Rat Snacks are non-venomous, much like the majority of snakes in Michigan, and do not endanger people or animals. They are not aggressive and attempt to avoid interacting with people, although they have a history of biting when threatened or trapped.

In order to make prey think they are poisonous, gray rat snakes also vibrate their tails.

They like environments in fields, streams with trees beside them, and hardwood forests. The kind of snake is comfortable on the ground as well as in tree branches.

They consume eggs, frogs, lizards, birds, and rodents as food. Gray Rat Snakes encircle its victim in a similar manner to other boas and pythons. Before devouring them completely, they choke them to death.

Northern Ribbon Snake

In Michigan, the northern ribbon snake is fairly prevalent. This snake shares a striking resemblance in appearance and striped pattern with several other species of garter snake. However, it has one defining characteristic that makes it obvious.

The bottom portion of the northern ribbon snake’s mouth is covered with black scales, while the remainder of the mouth is white. You can tell a northern ribbon snake from a garter snake if it has black scales.

The typical length of northern ribbon snakes is about one to one and a half feet. They mostly consume worms and tiny insects, however they have also been observed eating fish and frogs. A northern ribbon snake is likely to run away as soon as it sees humans, therefore you won’t ever get the opportunity to get up close to this little snake.

Northern Ring-necked Snake

The Northern Ring-necked snake is one that is a little more difficult to locate in Michigan. Even the Michigan Department of Natural Resources struggles to keep track of their numbers since they are so elusive. T

Another kind of little snake, they are often solid shades of black, blue, or gray with a distinctive, brilliant yellow ring around their necks. These snakes only like to emerge at night and are frequently seen in wooded areas.

Black Rat Snake

The Black Rat snake, commonly referred to as the Eastern Rat snake, is the second species of Rat snake found in Michigan. They may be found throughout the Lower Peninsula’s southern portion. They are classified as species of particular concern because of the state’s diminishing population of them.

Black Rat snakes are a different species from Gray Rat snakes and are among the biggest snakes in Michigan and the whole US. They may reach lengths of 42 to 72 inches and are of medium size. Typically, while they are young, they are gray with brown spots, and as they become older, they turn dark glossy black.

One way to distinguish them from their gray counterparts is by the color changes they undergo as they grow. Their chin and lips are covered in a white underbelly that also covers them.

They also shake their tails to frighten predators and aggressors, much like rattlesnakes do. Because they are non-venomous and their bite barely shields them from people, it is advantageous for them.

Hey, that’s probably why they’re called rat snakes—they eat rats. However, they also enjoy eating various kinds of chipmunks, birds, lizards, and frogs.

Their mating season begins in May, and five weeks later, the females deposit 12 to 20 eggs, which hatch 65 days later.

Queen Snake

The queen snake is a water snake that prefers a particular setting. Queen snakes favor tiny, rocky rivers with a lot of crayfish, insects, and small fish for food.

They really enjoy crayfish, but they’ll eat whatever little fish they come upon in the river. The queen snake may blend in with their surroundings thanks to its distinctive coloration of muted browns and yellows.

They often reach a length of two to three feet and have a diminutive build. Even ardent Michigan fisherman may never see a queen snake since they favor tiny rivers, yet you could see one if you are river fishing.

Northern Red-bellied Snake

Despite being attractive, Northern Red-bellied Snakes seldom ever survive in captivity. They also don’t live very long, so you won’t have much time to enjoy them. This species of snake, which grows to a maximum length of 16 inches, inhabits grassy areas and woodlands.

They initially don’t have particularly striking markings. Until you notice the bright red underbellies, that is. These snakes only consume tiny animals like slugs and are not poisonous.

Eastern Fox Snake

Only in the Great Lakes Basin can you find eastern fox snakes. This species enjoys surroundings near bodies of water and is a good swimmer. These snakes frequently travel between islands in a metaphorical hunt for greener pastures.

The length of an eastern fox snake can range from 36 to 66 inches (91 to 167 cm). The species has vivid colors with huge brown and black patterns that alternate. They have black checkers on their yellow undersides.

In Michigan, this species may be found mostly around wetlands, although it can also be found along shorelines and in big rivers. They are also skilled city dwellers, so seeing them on your land wouldn’t be a surprise.

They are quite gentle and non-venomous, nevertheless. Nevertheless, if trapped and given the chance, they will attack an attacker.

Eastern Fox snakes are constrictors that consume frogs, small animals, and birds’ eggs. They aid in the management of agricultural pests, so keeping a few on your farm would not be a terrible idea. But regrettably, they are becoming fewer in number in Michigan, and their condition is of particular concern.

Females deposit seven to 29 eggs throughout their breeding season in June and July.

Eastern Milk Snake

Eastern milk snakes are nocturnal snakes that very never go out during the day and have quite distinctive and attractive colouring, so it’s unlikely that you’ll ever see one in person. They like to be active at night, when their prey is most active since they consume insects and tiny rodents.

These snakes have pale white or light yellow bodies with vivid orange, light brown, or red patterns, despite the fact that they prefer to travel in the dark. Although their distinguishing patterns and light hue should make it more difficult for them to hunt at night, they don’t appear to have any problems sustaining their nocturnal existence.

Throughout Michigan, milk snakes have been sighted in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Brown Snake

The Northern Brown snake is another little snake species that you could see in Michigan’s forested regions. Most adult Brown snakes are relatively pale in color, and just a few have stripes on their flanks that are even lighter.

They adhere to eating worms and tiny insects, like many of the other small snake species found here, but they are a tasty feast for larger snakes, frogs, weasels, and cats. Additionally, they are among of the few snakes from Michigan that prosper in captivity.

Blue Racer

The nonvenomous Coluber constrictor, colubrid snakes, popularly known as Eastern Racers, have a subspecies named Blue Racers. They are present across the whole Lower Peninsula of Michigan as well as in the southern portion of the Peninsula.

They are medium-sized snakes that may reach lengths of between 36 and 60 inches (91 and 152 cm). The head is darker than the rest of the body, and they have smooth, uniform gray or blue scales. Their underbellies are white or a light blue, and the neck and chin are distinctively white.

Due to habitat loss, the number of Blue Racers has decreased in Michigan, and their condition is particularly worrying.

The species is among the quickest in the state, which is useful for pursuing prey and avoiding conflict. When trapped, they shake their tails to imitate rattlesnakes; if this fails to warn of dangers, they attack viciously. But only the little prey they pursue is harmed by their poison.

Crickets, snakes, rodents, and birds make up the food of blue racers, which are terrestrial and arboreal foragers.

April is when they breed; females deposit eggs, which hatch in August. Male Blue Racers reach sexual maturity at 11 months, but they can’t mate until they are 2 years old. Females reach sexual maturity at two years old, but they may begin reproduction at three.

Copperbelly Water Snake

When compared to other snake species, copperbelly water snakes stand out thanks to a distinct red-orange marking around their mouth.

They occasionally grow to almost 5 feet in length, which is quite a size. Due to a reduction in its number, the snake is protected in Michigan. Currently, isolated locations close to the Indiana border are where copperbelly snakes can be found.

Smooth Green Snake

The Smooth Green Snake is the most easily recognized of all the snake species found in Michigan. Despite their diminutive size, these snakes can make a big debut. They mostly eat insects and have smooth, green skin.

They are pursued by hawks, herons, bears, foxes, and cats due to their colorful bodies. The few Smooth Green snakes that are still present in Michigan prefer grassy, open environments including pastures, savannas, and meadows.

Copper-bellied Water Snake

Southern Michigan, close to the Indiana border, is home to an endangered species of snake called the copper-bellied water snake. The population of this subspecies of plain-bellied water snakes has been declining throughout the state, and its status is of particular concern.

Across the nation, they are regarded as endangered, and conservation efforts are continuing. Any sighting of a Copper-bellied Water snake should be reported to the DNR Wildlife Division in Lansing since it is against the law to damage one.

They reach a length of 36 to 60 inches (91 to 152 cm), which is medium. They have a body that is dark black with a blue undertone and a brilliant orange belly.

The habitats of copper-bellied water snakes are typically found in slow-moving streams in marshes, swamps, and other vegetation. This species’ peculiar behavior includes a preference for hanging with their mouths open, facing the upwash, on tree branches next to streams as they wait for prey.

Although they are water snakes, as we have seen, they spend the most of their time on land or hanging from branches.

The snakes hibernate in crayfish burrows in the autumn. The fact that the burrows occasionally become completely immersed in water for intervals of two weeks is an intriguing aspect of this. The snakes, however, don’t appear to be impacted by this since they continue to survive.

Fish, frogs, tadpoles, and other types of amphibians make up the food of the species. Females give birth to offspring throughout the month of June, which is breeding season.

Breeding snake species are regarded as preferable than egg-laying snake species. This is so that their progeny are not exposed to rapidly changing weather and the risks associated with building a nest.


Every state in the nation has snakes, and Michigan is no exception. There aren’t many snakes that will cause a lot of harm if they bite you, despite the fact that some people think the moist environments are what attract so many snakes here. In reality, Michigan is home to just one poisonous snake, and even those are difficult to find.