Are There Snakes in Minnesota? Should You Be Worried?

Updated On February 4, 2024

There are snakes in Minnesota, but there is nothing to be concerned about.

There are 17 species of snakes, and only two are venomous.

The two that could cause a problem are in a small area of the state.


So… Are There Snakes in Minnesota?

There are indeed snakes in Minnesota, but snakes like warm weather climates.

The few that are around are inactive when the temperature gets below 50, and that usually lasts from April until well into October.

There are two known species of poisonous snakes in Minnesota.

You could be in Minnesota for a long time without even seeing a snake.

Snake Species in Minnesota

The Plains, or common Garter snake, is the most common snake in the state.

They both have three stripes of different colors.

The plains snake tends to stay out in fields or plains, while the common garter snake likes wooded areas or grassy land.

The Timber Rattlesnakes’ northernmost habitat reaches the southeastern corner of Minnesota.

Wildlife officials believe even the small number of them has gone down in recent years.

They can get to four feet long, and have a triangular head with a distinctive gray, yellow, and brown color pattern.

They are rarely seen.

The Eastern Massasauga is another kind of rattlesnake that looks a bit different from the Timber variety.

Wildlife officials say these snakes have been spotted in the state, but rarely.

The brown snake is one of the smallest, getting to about 12 inches long as an adult.

This small snake is found mainly around the Twin Cities.

It is called the brown snake because of its color.

This snake can bite but is not venomous.

Eastern, or Plains hognose snakes, are “heavy body” snakes, meaning they have thicker bodies.

These are two species but very similar.

The only difference is that the Plains variety has a black underbelly and a more colorful mouth.

The Plains variety has some venom and can cause swelling with a bite, but otherwise is harmless.

The Gopher Snake is yellow with brown or black blotches.

It can get to 72 inches long.

This snake can rattle its tail like a rattlesnake, but it is not venomous.

Gopher snakes are often kept as pet snakes.

Both may be found in the eastern part of the state in wooded areas.

The Lined Snake is a brown snake with tan or yellow lines.

Adults are between eight and 13 inches long.

The only place this snake has been found is in Blue Mounts State Park.

It is a Midwestern snake with Minnesota being the edge of its range and it is a harmless snake.

The Milk Snake is found mostly along the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.

It likes living in rocky areas.

The snake is brown with red splotches that have a black border or outline.

Milk snakes like to eat mice, and will be found on farms where mice can be found.

The Racer is a snake that can get up to five feet long and is often captured as a pet snake.

Its underbelly will be blue or gray, and its back will range from brown to white.

The racer is fast and gets its prey by attacking and subduing it, instead of biting or constricting as other snakes do.

The Northern Water snake can be found in vegetation along major rivers like the Minnesota or Mississippi River.

It is a thick snake and can be two to three feet long.

It is generally brown or gray with orange or lilly blotches.

The Western Ratsnake is another snake that has been found a few times in the southeast corner of the state, but wildlife officials are not sure how many there are.

It can get to 72 inches long, and these snakes are often black with various splotches.

The Red Belly snake has a red belly as you would expect.

It is a small snake, about the size of a nightcrawler.

They do not grow to be more than 12 inches long.

It is one of the few snakes that have been found throughout the state.

Ringneck snake is a small dark-colored snake that is found along the eastern edge of the state.

It has a yellow or orange ring around its neck and can grow to about 15 inches.

The Smooth Green snake is a green snake with a white underbelly.

They can get to be about two feet long.

It is also known as a grass snake.

They are found along the western part of the state.

They can be found in yards, fields, and around shrubs.

The Western Fox Snake is a large snake that can get to over five feet long.

It is brown with yellow or orange circles.

It lives along rivers and it is one of the largest snakes in the state.

It can make a rattling sound with its tail and can get confused with a rattlesnake.


Is it Safe to Go on a Trek in Minnesota?

It is very safe to go hiking in Minnesota.

There are hundreds of trails, and a lot of flat land, which is ideal for fun hikes.

There are only a few counties in the southeast that have venomous snakes.

Half of the year they are hibernating and not even round.

There are not many dangers for hikers in Minnesota.

Interesting Snake Facts in Minnesota

The garter snake is not venomous, but it can bite you.

It might cause a little discomfort.

A garter snake can defecate on you, leaving a very smelly substance on your hands.

When frightened, hognose snakes coil and flatten their heads and necks two to three times their normal width.

They will also roll over and play dead.

The Milk Snake likes mice and is often found around barns.

There is a legend that it sucks milk from cows.

That is how it got the name Milk Snake.

3 Safety Tips for Exploring Nature in Minnesota

  1. Stay hydrated. The weather is not very hot, and you could be lulled into thinking you don’t need water. It is possible to get heat exhaustion and worse, below 90 degrees.
  2. Watch for snakes. While there are not very many poisonous snakes in Minnesota, it’s a good idea to keep your eyes open.
  3. Stay on the trail. If you stay on marked trails you will probably not have any problems. When you go off the trail you could get lost or disoriented. It’s also more common to get hurt when you go off the trail.


There are only a few venomous snakes in Minnesota in the southeast corner. Other snakes you will find are harmless and good for the environment.

Minnesota Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Minnesota Safety Review

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many people die from snakebites?

In the United States, there are about five fatalities per year from snakebites.

The only known death from a snakebite in Minnesota happened in 1868 – more than 150 years ago.

How many people are bitten by snakes in Minnesota?

The last person to be treated for snakebite was in 2011.

Minnesota still average three reported snake bites per year.

What is the most common snake in Minnesota?

The common garter snake is the most common and can be found in yards, fields, and wooded areas throughout the state.

It is harmless and eats bugs that can be pests.

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