Snakes Of Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, there are more than 20 different kinds of snakes, but only two of them are poisonous, and both of them are rattlesnakes.

This post is for you if you live in Wisconsin and enjoy snakes. Although there are many distinct kinds of snakes in Wisconsin, some are common and others are on the verge of being extinct or critically endangered.

Their threatened or endangered condition is mostly brought on by habitat loss brought on by pollution, overfishing, climate change, and illness. These are the main causes of the decline in the number of snakes.

Any poisonous or venomous amphibian, arachnid, or reptile, including snakes, any snake not native to Wisconsin, any indigenous snake exceeding 5 feet (bullsnakes, western fox snakes, and midland/black/gray ratsnakes), prohibited, is stated under the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin (Native American Community).

Any natural species, particularly those that are not subject to any hunting restrictions, cannot be kept in Wisconsin. These reptiles cannot be traded or sold without a license, with the exception of a few species that can be used as fishing bait.

According to Wisconsin wildlife rules, a license is necessary in order to import, breed, hunt, or acquire wild animals. Fines or even jail time may be imposed for breaking these laws.

10 Snakes Found in Wisconsin

You’ll observe that the snakes that inhabit Wisconsin are highly diverse.

For instance, some species are poisonous, while others paralyze their prey by constriction. Or the fact that although some snakes prefer to live underground where they are rarely seen, others are content to live EXTREMELY near to people.

The following are some of the typical snakes found in Wisconsin:

Butler’s Garter Snake

One of the tiniest garter snake species found in Wisconsin is the butler’s garter snake. They primarily reside in the state’s southeast. They frequently inhabit marshes, prairies, abandoned farms, and open meadows.

They have bodies that are black, brown, or olive green with three yellow or orange stripes. It’s interesting to note that these snakes often avoid the more opportunistic diet of many other garter snakes and just consume earthworms.

Common Watersnake

As a result of their tiny size, amiable nature, and irregular feeding schedule, water snakes are a common option for pets. They are non-venomous, need little maintenance, and are often safe to maintain.

We advise you to purchase from a vendor that sells captive-bred animals since this indicates that they have already been domesticated and socialized. This makes it simpler for keepers because they could already be used to handling.

Usually, these snakes are deeper tones of tan, gray, or brown. There may be a number of blotches on their backs that may alternate and create bands down their length. Age may cause these signs to fade.

The undersides of Common Watersnakes are covered in keeled scales that resemble white and red half-moons with a split anal plate and gray specks.

They might have bodies that are small, medium-sized, or huge and bulky.

Because they like to live in areas close to bodies of water, these snakes are sometimes known as water snakes. They may be found in practically any form of aquatic environment, including ponds, streams, and swamps, however they prefer clear rivers.

They may be discovered in any warm, shallow body of water with quick access to areas for sunbathing on logs, piers, and rocky outcrops.

Common Watersnakes take pleasure in consuming crayfish, other amphibians, and slow-moving fish.

Despite the fact that these creatures are harmless, some people may mistake them for the poisonous Water Moccasin or Cottonmouth due to their resemblance in appearance. These animals are wrongly murdered more frequently than they ought to because of this misconception.

But cottonmouths don’t live or forage anywhere close to Wisconsin.

Timber Rattlesnake

Southwest Wisconsin contains a range of environments where the Timber Rattlesnake, also called the Canebrake Rattlesnake, can be found. In lowland thickets, high spots near rivers and floodplains, agricultural regions, deciduous woods, and coniferous forests, keep an eye out for these poisonous snakes.

As ambush predators, these snakes wait for unwary prey to approach so they may attack. They mostly eat small animals, however they may also eat frogs, birds, and other smaller snakes. After striking and releasing their prey, timber rattlesnakes wait for their poison to take effect before consuming them.

Due to their size, strong fangs, and high venom output, these poisonous snakes might be the most hazardous species in Wisconsin. Fortunately, Timber Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and rarely bite. Usually, they rattle and posture plenty of warning.

In American history, the timber rattlesnake had an important role. It was a symbol of the American Revolution and was found in the original 13 colonies. It was the centerpiece of the “Gadsden Flag” in 1775. This yellow flag has the words “Don’t Tread on Me” and a coiled, ready-to-strike Timber Rattlesnake.

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

There are just two types of poisonous snakes in Wisconsin, and one of them is the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake. They are regarded as threatened across the nation and endangered in the state. Typically, they occupy fields, grasslands, and meadows close to wetlands and rivers.

These snakes’ venom is cytotoxic, which means it hinders coagulation and disturbs blood flow. Its poison makes their victim bleed to death inside. They are timid and usually make an effort to avoid interacting with others. There is medical assistance available if they do bite a person.

Common Garter Snake

While garter snakes are rather docile when handled and appear to make excellent pets. Wisconsin has put these creatures under protection due to their endangered status.

This species is widely accessible in the Wisconsin wilderness, however it is forbidden to remove them from their native environment.

Captive-bred Garter snakes are curious creatures that will examine your hands and wrists. They are peaceful, pleasant, non-venomous creatures. They are not constrictors, which is what makes them easy to handle and delightful to keep as pets.

In addition, they lack biting fangs. However, they have a few rows of small teeth and may bite. If you do get bit, make sure the wound is cleansed thoroughly to prevent infection. Keep in mind that, in rare instances, some people may even be allergic to own saliva.

However, they prefer to reside in meadows, woods, forests, slopes, marshes, and open canopy or freshwater wetlands. They can build houses in various settings. Since they are exceptionally good swimmers, they are most frequently found close to water habitats, where they may run if surrounding predators approach.

The three light-colored stripes that run the length of the common garter snake’s black, brown, olive, or gray body help identify them. Depending on the snake, these stripes may be different colors, although they are often yellow, blue, white, green, or brown.

These snakes are prey to predators higher up in the food chain, whereas they are low-level predators that eat smaller creatures like earthworms, newts, toads, and the like.

The Butler’s gartersnake, plains gartersnakes, eastern and western ribbonsnakes, and common gartersnakes are among the five species of gartersnakes that may be found in Wisconsin.

Northern Watersnake

The most prevalent species of watersnake in Wisconsin is this one!

The preferred habitat of northern watersnakes is still or slowly moving water, such as ponds, lakes, vernal pools, marshes, and slowly flowing rivers and streams. They are most frequently spotted in or close to the sea, sunbathing on rocks or logs.

During the day, these snakes seek in shallow water and along the shore in search of fish and amphibians to eat. While the victim is still alive, they immediately grasp it and consume it!

Northern Watersnakes dive into the water to escape when startled. They are ready to defend themselves, nevertheless, if they are caught or taken prisoner. They will flatten their body and hit the assailant after releasing a foul-smelling scent from glands near the base of their tale.

A small anticoagulant in their saliva can make bites bleed, making the damage look worse. Water snakes can withstand predators including raccoons, snapping turtles, foxes, opossums, other snakes, and birds of prey thanks to these crucial defense systems.

Eastern Ribbon Snake

Semi-aquatic species include the Eastern ribbon snake. Though their population has been declining, they may still be found in a variety of remote locations around the state of Wisconsin.

They provide food for a variety of creatures that dwell close to the lakes and rivers they inhabit, such as herons, hawks, raccoons, and minks. Three white, green, or yellow stripes span the length of their black or brown bodies.

DeKay’s Brownsnake

Brown snakes are not timid and are frequently encountered by people. Due to their small and mild disposition, they may make wonderful companions for beginners. Additionally, feeding them is extremely simple.

As their name implies, these non-venomous snakes are often brown in appearance, although they can also be yellowish, red, or grayish-brown.

It usually looks like a collar or middorsal streak along the side of their head because they have two rows of either darker or lighter spots that may also be joined. There can also be a little black area under each of their eyes.

Some people may not have these marks at all.

Either white or brown will cover their undersides.

They like to live in many types of forests, most frequently in moist regions like marsh or wetland boundaries. They like wandering across fields that have been abandoned and lowland hardwoods, prairies, and oak savannas.

They are frequently seen in developed regions and residential neighborhoods.

With their unique jaws and teeth, they will eat tiny invertebrates such as earthworms, slugs, and snails in their surroundings. If they come find one, they could also consume salamanders and bugs.

Queen Snake

Queen Snakes typically live in streams and rivers with rocky bottoms because they love moving water. Due to their very porous skin, they are vulnerable to water loss due to evaporation. As you might expect, they are seldom seen far from water.

In Wisconsin, queen snakes are said to be less reclusive than many other snakes.

They spend the most of their time throughout the day sunbathing on rocks, hanging branches, or plants close to the water. They frequently hide down behind rocks by streams’ margins. They could be swimming if you’re lucky.

Queen Snakes are specialized predators that eat crayfish as their main prey. Their main source of food is freshly molted crayfish, which have soft bodies and are still unable to utilize their pinchers. They hunt by looking for crayfish under rocks and other submerged things.

Gray Rat Snake

The southwest region of Wisconsin is where you may find the gray rat snake. The majority of their time is spent in trees by this arboreal snake. They consume nesting birds and rats. They can hunt by eating smaller animals whole or by squeezing their prey.

With a light gray body and darker gray markings, they mix very well with their surroundings. They are timid despite their size and won’t attack unless provoked.

Eastern Hognose Snake

The Hognose snake is regarded as one of the greatest pets for enthusiasts since it is easygoing and at ease around people. They remain tiny and are only mildly poisonous, making them safe to keep around people.

We all like these worm-like snakes with their huge, rounded heads and upward-facing snouts. They are often dark gray or olive green, but some are also yellow, tan, or light brown. On their head and occasionally their bodies, they have dark brown spots or black patterns.

They love to live in sandy forests, farms, coastal regions, and fields. They eat small animals, birds, insects, frogs, and salamanders for food. They may more readily enter the burrows of their prey by using their hog-like nose.

Eastern Garter Snake

In Wisconsin, eastern garter snakes are widespread and simple to find!

In fact, they are frequently the species of snakes that people encounter. They frequently inhabit urban parks, rural areas, cemeteries, and suburban lawns and gardens because they are well suited to live in close proximity to people.

Although it is not necessary, they like grassy areas close to freshwater sources including ponds, lakes, ditches, and streams.

In grassy areas close to cover, look for these snakes in Wisconsin as they enjoy the sun.

When threatened or trapped, eastern garter snakes defend themselves. For instance, if you catch one or disturb it frequently, it will urinate and exude a pungent odor from its glands. They frequently bite as a last option as well!

The most typical prey items for the Eastern Garter Snake include toads, frogs, slugs, salamanders, fish, and worms. They will, however, consume other insects and small animals if they can overwhelm them since they are quite opportunistic. Depending on the temperature, they might be active both during the day and at night.

Plains Garter Snake

There are just a few Plains garter snakes in a tiny central pocket of Wisconsin, which is largely in the state’s southern region. They like living in open fields, prairies, and other grasslands with low canopies.

They blend in with the long grasses thanks to their dark brown scales with yellow or orange stripes. These snakes will also be eaten by hawks, foxes, coyotes, cats, and skunks, among other creatures. Although they are not poisonous, when threatened, they will release a foul odor.


A lovely, non-venomous snake that is excellent for novices is the milk snake. They are a kind of kingsnake that, depending on the particular snake, can vary greatly in size, color, and pattern.

They often have a body color of brown or gray, with a V- or Y-shaped pattern on their neck. They frequently have striped or blotchy patterns with black and copper, rusty, red or orange with white, or yellow among these hues.

Again, depending on the subspecies, they can vary greatly, but generally speaking, they will appear to have black, white, and red-orange stripes. Every milksnake has longitudinal black and white spots or stripes.

Although milksnakes may live in a wide range of environments, they favor forest margins, prairies, open woods, rocky slopes, close to rivers or streams, grasslands, rocky hillsides, rocky mountains, and suburban farmlands.

They behave secretively and dislike being observed.

They are carnivorous snakes that eat small reptiles, birds, rodents, and their eggs. Even as hatchlings, they may eat other snakes.

For additional details on how to take care of this fantastic, stunning pet snake, see the video below:

Western Ribbon Snake

If so, a Western Ribbon Snake is most likely what it was. Rarely does one see this semi-aquatic animal too far from a body of water. They often live in locations with plenty of bush near rivers, lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water. They may also be seen taking a sunbath on flat vegetation, dry sand, or rocks close to water.

The Western Ribbon Snake has an amazing and distinctive hunting style. They walk over ground in three-step sequences, their head and upper body moving quickly and lightly in each direction.

With their jaws shut, it resembles a strike. Because the frogs are disturbed from their slumber, the garter snake becomes aware of their presence. The snake then pounces on its victim using its greater speed.

They dive into the water or hide in dense vegetation when they feel threatened. With more vegetation and deep cover, their colour offers excellent concealment.

Western Ribbon Snakes seldom bite when handled, but they will flail about, urinate, and exude scent from their anal glands instead. This species may also shed its tail to get away, but regrettably, unlike some lizard species, it cannot regrow.