There isn’t much to worry about when it comes to the 15 different varieties of snakes that live in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has a low density of snakes in comparison to other states, and none of the snakes you will encounter there are especially violent.
There are two different kinds of poisonous snakes in Massachusetts, although encountering one is extremely uncommon. Most snakes you see in Massachusetts will be harmless and tiny. They won’t bother you if you don’t disturb them.
So let’s list some of Massachusetts’ most well-known snakes.
Is Massachusetts An Ideal Habitat for Snakes?
Because of its bitterly cold winters, Massachusetts is not a good place for snakes to live. The ground must not be too frosty for the snakes to enter hybernation.
Due to its inability to self-regulate, this cold-blooded mammal does not adapt well to frigid temperatures. The snake will ultimately stop eating, get unwell, and pass away since it won’t be able to digest its meal.
Snakes typically hibernate in the winter. It is a type of hibernation in which they occasionally awaken to hunt but do not always slumber. The snake uses brumation to defend itself from the cold and to save energy. Generally speaking, snakes enter brumation at around 60°F (15°C).
Massachusetts experiences chilly summers and snowy winters due to its humid continental climate. The average wintertime temperature is 16°F (-8°C). Since the earth is too chilly for them to brumate, these kinds of winters aren’t great for snakes.
The Black Rat snake is the longest of the 14 snakes found in Massachusetts. When compared to the majority of the snakes that live here, this one may reach a height of 101 inches (256 cm) (127cm). Although it is about twice as big as them, at least it is not poisonous.
The Worm snake, the smallest snake to call Massachusetts home, behaves and looks like a worm, spending the most of its time underground.
The Common Garter snake is the only species of snake that may be found across Massachusetts. This one may be seen nearby residential areas, occasionally even in yards and basements.
In Massachusetts, there are just two poisonous snakes, both of which avoid contact with people and are thus endangered. Let’s move on to Massachusetts’ 14 different snake species.
It’s unusual to come across these VENOMOUS snakes in Massachusetts. Look for them in mixed and deciduous woodlands, frequently close to rocky outcroppings.
Since the temperature is cooler in the spring and fall, you are more likely to see them out and about during the day. Eastern Copperheads are frequently nocturnal in the middle of the summer.
This species hunts through ambush, which means it chooses an appropriate location and waits to surprise its target. The fact that copperheads are referred to as “pit vipers” and have a heat-sensing organ between their eyes further supports this claim.
By being able to detect infrared, this adaptation aids these deadly snakes in finding and estimating the size of their prey!
They generate venom, although it’s not very potent. In addition, fake strikes, dry bites, and warning bites are regularly used by copperheads. Venom is absent from dry bites, while warning bites have just a trace of it.
The main prey of these snakes is tiny rodents, frogs, birds, and huge insects like cicadas. They will wait for the venom to start working after the initial bite before eating their prey completely.
The only other poisonous snake you could come across in Massachusetts is the timber rattlesnake, which can reach a length of 60 inches (152 cm) and weigh up to 1,500 grams (3.3lb).
On their backs, they feature a cross-band pattern in brown or black against a yellow, brown, or gray backdrop. Even though they might be V or M shaped, the cross bands have zigzag edges. A rusty-colored stripe can be seen on certain specimens.
Although gravid females prefer rocky ledges and warm temperatures, where she may soak up the sun before giving birth, they are fairly frequent in wooded places.
During the winter, they hibernate in dens, sometimes in the same burrow as copperheads and eastern rat snakes.
In Massachusetts, the timber rattlesnake is protected as an endangered species and cannot be possessed, killed, or bothered.
Make careful to get emergency medical help if you believe one of these snakes has bitten you.
The second poisonous snake in this county is the Northern Copperhead. This snake has vertical pupils and a triangular head, just like the Timber Rattlesnake. It is a large snake that is 53 inches long (135 cm).
Its colour ranges from pinkish to gray-brown, with crossbands on the back that are either orange or reddish. The snake’s head is a dark brown copper color without any markings. His body’s design blends in with the dense undergrowth.
They are often slow-moving snakes that don’t move around much. They strive to remain immobile when they feel threatened in order to blend in. People seldom ever run across them since they are so alone. The Copperhead inhabits ponds and rocky hillsides covered with vegetation.
Due to the presence of a heat sensor directly between their eyes, copperheads are classified as pit vipers. To find and assess the size of their prey, they employ infrared sensors. They prefer to utilize dry bites, fake strikes, or warning bites instead than injecting their weak venom very often. They eat frogs, birds, insects, rodents, and insects.
Because these snakes are endangered, it is forbidden to kill, bother, or keep them as pets.
Common Water Snake
This species may be found all throughout the Bay State, with the exception of Dukes County. The common water snake lives its whole life in the water, where it hides in the undergrowth while watching for passing fish or toads.
You’ll probably find one near a lake because they prefer still water to flowing water and stay away from rivers. They go fishing, frog catching, and rat catching there.
They kill by striking, but their saliva also contains an anticoagulant, a blood thinner. Some specialists believe that this might be the beginning of evolution and venom development. However, since they don’t yet got needle-like teeth, they can’t effectively administer that anticoagulant, therefore it only works on tiny animals.
Eastern Black Racer
Eastern black racer snakes may move rather quickly. The majority of these snakes are one color, often black or brown, but occasionally their bellies are paler than their backs. Most of the time, you will just see a flash of movement since they move so quickly. Before you can even get a decent look at them, they vanish.
However, they can elevate their heads to look over any obstacles in their path. Eastern black racers love to hang out in brush heaps and thick grass. It’s definitely an eastern black racer snake if you catch a glimpse of a snakehead peering across at you through some high grass.
When threatened, they occasionally vibrate their tails, which causes the grass and foliage to rustle. Although you could hear a rattlesnake-like sound, these snakes aren’t poisonous and don’t have rattles.
Eastern Milk Snake
The common and non-venomous eastern milk snake exhibits some of the venomous varieties’ striking markings. It’s possible for people who are unfamiliar with this mostly nocturnal rodent consumer to mistake it for a copperhead and kill it, despite the fact that doing so is against the law.
Check the head for differences; the eastern milk snake has stripes there, but the copperhead has not. A mature milk snake may reach lengths of 24 to 36 inches.
Eastern Garter Snake
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.
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.
Eastern Rat Snake
Eastern rate snakes have a maximum length of 79 inches (200 cm).
Adults have a glossy back and a neck and chin that are either cream or white. Their bellies feature a black and white checkerboard pattern that turns gray as they go closer to the tail.
Juveniles vary from adults in that they often have black spots over a gray background.
In the summer, these snakes are usually active at night. They occasionally dive into the water and are excellent climbers. They can be discovered in trees, beneath rocks, and under boards.
They are not hostile and, if startled, will freeze. When threatened, they emit a foul odor that deters predators. Additionally, they could shake their tails and curl their bodies.
Because it is so tiny and slender, the worm snake is difficult to see. They lack any pattern or markings and have dark bodies with pinkish bellies.
As its name implies, it resembles a worm exactly, is extremely smooth, and has a head that is identical in size to its body. This species consumes earthworms or slugs, which are often small animals that fit in their mouths.
Sandier soils are preferred by worm snakes in Massachusetts, and they are found in the southern Connecticut Valley. They like rocky soils and wooded areas as their habitat. They seldom remain in the open since they are so shy. They are hidden behind rocks and logs. Like worms, they often reside underground.
Worm snakes struggle in arid environments. They hide underground throughout the summer to avoid the heat and come out to play once it gets cooler.
According to the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, it is prohibited to own, harass, or kill these snakes since they are listed as Threatened.
Smooth Green Snake
These snakes, sometimes known as grass snakes, may be found all across the Old Colony State in marshes, along the banks of streams, and in flooded fields. Unfortunately, the loss of habitat has resulted in a decrease in their population.
Because they provide concealment, it prefers to be close to sources of water; these snakes are thin and totally green, so they are essentially unnoticeable in thick grass. It mostly consumes insects and extremely tiny animals.
Brahminy Blind Snake
The tiniest species of snakes are those little reptiles. They seldom exceed six inches in length and are often only a few inches long. They are so little that you might not even recognize one as a snake when you see one. Blind brahmins move quickly and make an effort to remain undetected.
When raking leaves in the fall or cutting grass in the spring and summer, you can run across blind snakes since they like to hide in grass and leaf heaps. Small blind snakes like to live underground where they may eat ants and termites.
Eastern Ribbon Snake
Semi-aquatic in nature, this species is RARELY encountered far from a body of water. You may find them in a broad range of habitats, including as marshes, grassy floodplains, streams, grassy ditches, wet regions in meadows, and woods next to wetlands. Even suburban settings that fit these criteria can harbor ribbon snakes.
These snakes may be seen laying in the sun on grasses, shrubs, or tree branches that dangle over the water. They generally hunt in the water and eat fish, invertebrates, and amphibians.
These snakes swiftly slither towards grassy or brushy regions when startled. They are not violent when captured and hardly ever bite. But be prepared for them to urinate on your hands and spray musk. Eastern Ribbon Snakes must conceal themselves from predators in the wild in order to survive.
Northern Water Snake
Lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, and wetlands are the Northern Water Snake’s favored habitats since they adore the water. It is hardly surprising that they are exceptional swimmers both above and below the surface.
The color of this snake species varies. They can have black crossbands around the head and a gray or dark brown main body. On their sides, they see black spots as well. Because they are fairly thick and may grow up to 55 inches, you can identify them in water (140cm).
They are non-venomous snakes that don’t hurt people. These snakes are sometimes mistaken for deadly Cottonmouth snakes. These, however, do not reside in Massachusetts.
The Northern Water Snake enters yards by sliding motions in the spring. If attacked, they will retreat to the water. They will probably bite you if you try to handle them, urinate on you, and create a foul odor.
Both of the Massachusetts snakes classified as poisonous are endangered species. The likelihood of a visitor or local noticing is therefore quite minimal. The likelihood of any human getting bitten is considerably decreased by their propensity for seclusion.
To be assaulted, one must almost walk on another.
The usual length of a copperhead is three feet, and its pale body is covered in darker crossbands. The head exhibits a distinctive copper hue.
Rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths are the three main types of snakes that make up the biggest group of poisonous snakes, known as pit vipers.
The majority of North America is home to sixteen different species of rattlesnakes from the genus Crotalus. Due of the venom in their bites, their existence in a given location is typically thoroughly recorded. Because it is home to more than a dozen distinct species, the desert Southwest can make it difficult to identify rattlesnakes.
In other parts of the United States with less diversity in rattlesnake species, identifying rattlesnakes is simpler. Probably the most prevalent species in the United States is the timber rattlesnake, which is depicted. Most of the states east of the Rocky Mountains are home to it.