Indiana Snakes Identification & Safety Guide (Images Included)

There’s more than just corn in Indiana – including roughly 36 species and subspecies of Indiana snakes!

Keep reading to learn which cold-blooded serpents call this midwestern state home, including four venomous species and many unique and harmless Indiana snakes, like the Eastern Blue Racer.

We’ll also cover some identification basics, including Indiana’s snakes’ pictures, and what to do if you encounter a snake in the wild.

In Short

  • Roughly 36 types of snake live in Indiana.
  • Indiana is home to four venomous snakes.
  • All of Indiana’s venomous snakes are pit vipers.
  • Many Indiana snake species look similar and are hard to differentiate.
  • Snakes inhabit every corner of the state, from open fields to rocky glades.

Snake Identification Basics

Sometimes, the same snake species can look different depending on the state it lives in. This identification guide is for Indiana snakes only.

Here are some key features to look for when attempting to identify any wild snake:

  • Size – is the snake long or short? Is its body thin or stout?
  • Scales – are they rough, bumpy, sharp, smooth, or glossy?
  • Pupil Shape – are they round or elliptical?
  • Color and Pattern – Indiana is home to blotched, banded, patternless, and striped snakes. There are blue, green, red, brown, and black snakes in Indiana.
  • Unique Characteristics – are there any distinctive features, like the upturned snout of the Eastern Hognose Snake?

Quickly Identifying Venomous Snakes in Indiana

A snake’s pattern isn’t always a reliable way to identify venomous snakes because many harmless snakes mimic the appearance of venomous snakes to deter predators.

With a bit of reptile education, differentiating pit vipers from most North American colubrids is straightforward. Look for these key characteristics:

  • Broad, triangular heads
  • Elliptical, cat-like pupils
  • Rattle on tail (rattlesnakes only)
  • Heat-sensing pits between the nostrils and eyes

Timber Rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnake on top of dead leaves
Bright yellow Timber Rattlesnakes, also known as Canebrake Rattlesnakes, are a somewhat common color variation in Indiana.
Scientific Name: Crotalus horridus
Range: South-central Indiana
Size: 2 – 5 ft.
Description: Heavy-bodied

Rattle on tail tip

Velvety black tail

Spade-shaped head

Heavily keeled scales

Black chevron pattern, light orange-brown dorsal stripe

Base color starts light brown or gray at the head, and gradually darkens to black towards the tail

Habitat: Rugged deciduous and coniferous forests
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Venomous

Western Cottonmouth

Cottonmouth looking up with its mouth showing on top of a rock
Cottonmouths, also known as Water Moccasins, are named after their tendency to open their cotton-white mouths as a defensive tactic.
Scientific Name: Agkistrodon piscivorus
Range: Southwestern corner of Indiana
Size: 2 – 5 ft.
Description: Keeled scales

Heavy-bodied

Broad, triangular head

Juveniles have a bright yellow tail tip

Base color ranges from light tan to nearly black

Pixelated, dark-colored lateral bands widest near the belly and narrow towards the spine

  • Pattern fades as animal ages. Old adults may appear uniformly black or dark brown.
Habitat: Most wetland habitats
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Venomous

Northern Copperhead

Copperhead snake on top of dead leaves with a tree on the background
None of Indiana’s harmless snakes have similar bands which are more narrow at the top part, as seen here.
Scientific Name: Agkistrodon contortrix
Range: Southern ½ of Indiana
Size: 2 – 3 ft.
Description: Keeled scales

Heavy-bodied

Broad, triangular head

Juveniles have a bright yellow tail tip

Base color ranges from light gray to reddish-brown

Hershey’s kiss shaped lateral pattern that’s widest at the bottom and narrow towards the spine

Habitat: Elevated, dry, rocky forests
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Venomous

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

Eastern Massasauga snake with its rattle showing on top of dirt with grass and rocks in the background.
The rattle of an Eastern Massasauga’s tail is barely audible.
Scientific Name: Sistrurus catenatus
Range: Northern ½ of Indiana
Size: 24 – 30 in.
Description: Keeled scales

Heavy-bodied

Broad, triangular head

Small rattle may be present on tail tip

Base color ranges from gray to brown

Broad, dark stripe along the side of the head and through the eye

One row of brown dorsal blotches and three alternating rows of lateral dark blotches on each side

Habitat: Most wetland habitats
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Venomous

Common Snakes in Indiana

The common snakes in Indiana that you’ll find depend on where you are in the state and the type of habitat you’re exploring.

The Eastern Garter Snake probably takes the spot for the most common species across the state.

Here’s a generalized list of the five most common types of snakes you might see across the entire state.

Milk Snakes

Eastern Milk Snake close up staring at you on top of dirt
There are 24 recognized subspecies of Milk Snake. Indiana is home to two of them, including Eastern Milk Snakes like the one pictured.
Scientific Name: Lampropeltis triangulum syspila (Red Milk Snake)

Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum (Eastern Milk Snake)

Range: Statewide

L. t. syspila: Southwestern Indiana

Size: 2 – 4 ft.
Description: Smooth scales

Base color is gray to light brown

Single row of dark brown or red dorsal blotches outlined in black

Juveniles usually have bright red pattern that fades to brown with age

Habitat: Edge habitats between dense forests and open grasslands
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Fun Fact: Milk snakes also make great pets! Removing snakes from the wild is unethical and may be illegal where you live; be sure to buy your pet snake from a reputable breeder.

Ribbon Snake

Ribbon snakes close up on top of leaves
Although they’re closely related and both are striped snakes, Ribbon Snakes lack the labial (lip) bars that are characteristic of Garter Snakes.
Scientific Name: Thamnophis proximus proximus (Western Ribbon Snake)

Thamnophis sauritus sauritus (Eastern Ribbon Snake)

Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis (Northern Ribbon Snake)

Range: T. p. proximus: Northwest corner of Indiana

T. s. sauritus: Statewide except Southeast and East-Central regions

T. s. septentrionalis: Northern ⅔ of Indiana

Size: T. p. proximus: 17 – 50 in.

T. s. sauritus: 7 – 34 in.

T. s. septentrionalis: 18 – 26 in.

Description: Large eyes

Keeled scales

Slender-bodied

Base color is brown to black

Bright yellow or orange dorsal stripe and one light-colored lateral stripe on each side

T. p. proximus has a white spot on its head that differentiates it from the other species

Habitat: Most wetland habitats
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Mildly Venomous (not medically significant for humans)

Fun Fact: Ribbon Snakes give birth to live offspring, like mammals!

Garter Snakes

Eastern Garter Snakes grouped up on top of dead leaves and twigs
It’s not uncommon to find garter snakes gathered in groups during the Springtime.
Scientific Name: Thamnophis radix (Plains Garter Snakes)

Thamnophis butleri (Butler’s Garter Snakes)

Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (Eastern Garter Snakes)

Thamnophis sirtalis semifasciatus (Chicago Garter Snakes)

Range: T. radix: Northwest corner of Indiana

T. butleri: Northwest corner of Indiana

T. s. sirtalis: Statewide

T. s. semifasciatus: Northwest corner of Indiana

Size: T. radix: 2 – 3 ft.

T. butleri: 1 – 2 ft.

T. sirtalis: 2 – 4 ft.

Description: Keeled scales

Base color is gray-green, brown, or black

Dark labial (lip) bars that distinguish them from the ribbon snake species

Light-colored dorsal stripe and lateral stripes that nearly merge with the belly

T. butleri: head is smaller than other Thamnophis, and the neck is indistinct

Habitat: All habitats
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Mildly Venomous (not medically significant to humans)

Gray or Black Rat Snake

Black Rat Snake hiding in a tree
Gray or Black Rat Snakes are one of the most arboreal species in Indiana.
Scientific Name: Pantherophis spiloides
Range: Statewide except the Northwest corner
Size: 3 – 8 ft.
Description: Smooth scales

Base color is light gray to black

Juveniles have black bands that fade with age

Most adults have some light-colored speckling along their previous juvenile pattern

Habitat: Forests and agricultural buildings
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

DeKay’s Brown Snakes

DeKay's Brown Snake
DeKay’s Brown Snakes are one of the smallest snakes in Indiana.
Scientific Name: Storeria dekayi dekayi (Northern Brown Snake)

Storeria dekayi wrightorum (Midland Brown Snake)

Range: Statewide
Size: 10 – 15 in.
Description: Keeled scales

Slender-bodied

Head is darker than body

Base color is grayish-brown

One or two dark spots beneath and behind the eyes

Light-colored dorsal stripe bordered by small dark spots

Habitat: Moist, open prairies and meadows
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Water Snakes in Indiana

Most people automatically assume that any snake they see in the water is a venomous Water Moccasin.

In Indiana, the reality is that Water Moccasins only live in a tiny area in the southern region of the state.

Common Water Snakes, including the Northern Water Snake and Midland Water Snake, are common throughout the entire state.

These gentle, fish-loving snakes make great pets and have won the hearts of many reptile keepers.

Common Water Snake

Water snake on top of a rock eating a fish
Common Water Snakes are often mistaken for venomous Cottonmouths, but only harmless water snakes in Indiana have bands that are most wide at the spine and become more narrow towards the belly.
Scientific Name: Nerodia sipedon sipedon (Northern Water Snake)

Nerodia sipedon pleuralis (Midland Water Snake)

Range: Statewide
Size: 2 – 4 ft.
Description: Heavy-bodied

Keeled scales

Base color is gray or brown

Black, brown, or reddish-brown bands that are widest on the back and narrow towards the belly

Habitat: Along slow-flowing bodies of water
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Copperbelly Water Snake

Copperbelly water snake swimming
Copperbelly Water Snakes are actually one of a handful of Hoosier snake species with reddish bellies.
Scientific Name: Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta
Range: Southwest and Northeast corners of Indiana
Size: 3 – 5 ft.
Description: Heavy-bodied

Keeled scales

Base color is patternless jet black

Bright red or copper-orange belly

Juveniles are light gray or brown with dark bands and a dull belly that brightens with age

Habitat: Shallow, open wetlands
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Northern Diamondback Water Snake

Diamondback water snake on top of a rug
Diamondback Water Snakes have a unique pattern that’s unlike any of Indiana’s other snakes’ patterns.
Image Credit: u/Genetics (via Reddit.com)
Scientific Name: Nerodia rhombifer
Range: Southwest corner of Indiana
Size: 2 – 5 ft.
Description: Heavy-bodied

Keeled scales

Base color is light-gray to olive-green

Distinctive black chainlink diamond pattern

Reddish-orange eyes positioned towards the top of the head

Habitat: Most wetland habitats
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Other Native Snake Species

So far, we’ve only scratched the surface with Indiana’s water snakes, venomous snakes, and common snakes.

There are plenty more Indiana snakes to learn about, from the loud and hissy Bullsnake to the dramatic wannabe-cobra Eastern Hognose Snake.

Bullsnake

Bullsnake with its tongue out on top of grass
Bullsnakes (shown here) and Eastern Hognose Snakes are the only two Indiana snake species that are known for hissing loudly when disturbed.
Scientific Name: Pituophis catenifer sayi
Range: Northwest and Southwest corner of Indiana
Size: 4 – 8 ft.
Description: Keeled scales

Base color is vibrant yellow

Dorsal blotches that range from brown to black and become larger and darker towards the head

Habitat: Open prairie
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Queen Snake

Queen Snake coiled on top of dead grass
Older Queen Snakes may appear completely patternless from above.
Scientific Name: Regina septemvittata
Range: Statewide, except the southwest corner
Size: 12 – 30 in.
Description: Keeled scales

Base color is olive-brown or gray

One light-colored lateral stripe on each side

Juveniles have a dorsal stripe and two extra lateral stripes that fade with age

Four prominent, dark-colored ventral stripes down the length of the off-white belly

Habitat: Warm, shallow, rocky-bottomed streams
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Eastern Racer

Eastern racer snake inside a pole
With their vibrant orangish-brown blotches, juvenile Eastern Racers look nothing like their patternless adult counterparts.
Scientific Name: Coluber constrictor foxii (Blue Racer)

Coluber constrictor priapus (Southern Black Racer)

Range: C. c. foxii: Northern ¾ of Indiana

C. c. priapus: Southern ¼ of Indiana

Size: C. c. foxii: 36 – 60 in.

C. c. priapus: 20 – 56 in.

Description: Large eyes

Smooth scales

Slender-bodied

Patternless body with light-colored belly

C. c. foxii: Dark gray to bluish-gray base color

C. c. priapus: Dark gray to black base color

Juveniles have brown blotches that fade with age

Habitat: Open, grassy areas
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Kirtland’s Snake

Tiny kirtland's snake being held by a single hand
The symmetrical black spots along the edges of the Kirtland’s Snake’s belly can help you differentiate this species from the similar-looking Northern Redbelly Snake and Southeastern Crowned Snake.
Image Credit: u/EmeraldGirl (via Reddit.com)
Scientific Name: Clonophis kirtlandii
Range: Statewide
Size: 12 – 18 in.
Description: Keeled scales

Base color is grayish-brown

Two rows of dorsal spots and one row of alternating lateral spots on each side

Belly is bright pink, red, or orange, with a row of black spots along each edge

Habitat: Moist, open meadows
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Prairie Kingsnake

Prairie Kingsnake on top of dead leaves and flowers on the side
Prairie Kingsnakes look similar to many other blotched snakes in Indiana, but their behavior may give away their identity. Prairie Kingsnakes are the only non-venomous snakes in Indiana that move with twitchy motions during a defensive display.
Image Credit: u/Soopaman (via Reddit.com)
Scientific Name: Lampropeltis calligaster
Range: West-central region of Indiana
Size: 2 – 3 ft.
Description: Smooth scales

Base color is dark gray or brown

Dark, reddish-brown dorsal and lateral blotches

Juveniles have brightly-colored blotches that may fade or stay vibrant with age

Habitat: Open, grassy habitats
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Eastern Fox Snake

Eastern fox snake on top of dirt and dead leaves
It takes a trained eye to differentiate the Eastern Fox Snake from Indiana’s other snakes with blotched patterns.
Scientific Name: Pantherophis vulpinus
Range: Northwest region of Indiana
Size: 3 – 6 ft.
Description: Lightly keeled scales

Head may be rusty red

Base color is brown, tan, or yellow

Yellow checkerboard pattern on belly

Dark brown dorsal and lateral blotches

Habitat: Forests and open habitats
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Western Mud Snake

Mud snake coiled on top of dead leaves
The last confirmed occurrence of Mud Snakes in Indiana was in the mid-1900s. The singular swamp where they were once found no longer exists.
Scientific Name: Farancia abacura
Range: Knox County
Size: 2 – 6 ft.
Description: Base color is jet black

Smooth, glossy scales

Belly is striped bright red and black, with the bright red stripes extending up the snake’s sides and fading into pale pinkish-red lateral bands

Habitat: Swampland
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Smooth Greensnake

Smooth green sake with its tongue out on top of dirt and dead grass
It’s challenging to tell the Smooth Greensnake apart from its close cousin, the Rough Greensnake. Luckily, the Smooth Greensnake only lives in Northwest Indiana, and the Rough Greensnake is limited to the Southern half of the state.
Scientific Name: Opheodrys vernalis
Range: Northwest corner of Indiana
Size: 14 – 20 in.
Description: Smooth scales

Whitish underside

Base color is vibrant green

Habitat: Wet prairies
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Northern Scarlet Snake

Scarlet snakes on top of dead leaves and a pinecone behind
Scarlet Snakes haven’t been found in Indiana since the mid-1900s. While search efforts haven’t been successful, it’s possible that these secretive, burrowing snakes still live in Indiana without being detected.
Scientific Name: Cemophora coccinea
Range: Floyd County
Size: Smooth scales

Base color is drab gray-brown, body is patternless

Description: Pointed snout

Smooth scales

Base color is whitish gray

Large black-bordered, orangish-red dorsal blotches that resemble full bands but don’t extend to the underside

Habitat: Open, rocky glades
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Midwestern Worm Snake

Eastern Wormsnake on top of sand and twigs
As drably-colored as they are, the Midwestern Worm Snake still has beautiful, glossy, iridescent scales.

Scientific Name:

Scientific Name: Carphophis amoenus helenae
Range: Southern ½ of Indiana
Size: 7 – 11 in.
Description: Slender-bodied

Base color is brown

Smooth, glossy scales

Belly is light pinkish-white

Habitat: Hilly habitats
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Eastern Black Kingsnake

Eastern black snake eating another snake on top of leaves and twigs
Kingsnakes are great to have around because they consume other snakes, including venomous Copperheads.
Image Credit: u/MrsTuitous (via Reddit.com)
Scientific Name: Lampropeltis nigra
Range: Southern ⅓ of Indiana
Size: 3 – 5 ft.
Description: Base color is jet black

Smooth, glossy scales

White mouth with black labial (lip) bars

Juveniles have thin, light-colored bands and speckles that fade with age

Habitat: Overgrown clearings
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Northern Redbelly Snake

Redbelly snake camouflaging on an orange leaf
Northern Redbelly Snakes look like brightly-colored versions of their close cousins, DeKay’s Brown Snakes.
Scientific Name: Storeria occipitomaculata
Range: South-central and Northern regions of Indiana
Size: 10 – 12 in.
Description: Keeled scales

Belly is bright orangish-red

Base color is brown, gray, or black

One to three light blotches behind the head

Two thin, dark dorsal stripes border a stripe that may be gray or brown

Habitat: Forests and open grasslands
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern hog-nosed snake with its tongue out on top of grass
Eastern Hognose Snakes are occasionally melanistic, or completely solid black in color.
Scientific Name: Heterodon platirhinos
Range: Statewide, except East-Central Indiana
Size: 2 – 4 ft.
Description: Keeled scales

Upturned rostral (nose) scale

Base color is gray-brown to orange-yellow

Dark brown irregular dorsal blotches with alternating lateral blotches

Snake may flatten its neck out when it feels threatened (like a cobra)

Habitat: Habitats with sandy soil
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Mildly Venomous (not medically significant to humans)

Fun Fact: Thanks to their small size and attractive appearance, Hognose Snakes make great pets.

Northern Rough Greensnake

Northern rough greensakes on top of each other
Northern Rough Greensnakes often move in a swaying, vine-like motion while hunting for insects in dense vegetation.
Scientific Name: Opheodrys aestivus aestivus
Range: Southern ⅓ of Indiana
Size: 2 – 3 ft.
Description: Keeled scales

Slender-bodied

Yellowish belly

Base color is bright emerald green

Habitat: Densely vegetated woodland edges
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Western Smooth Earthsnake

A tiny western smooth earthsnake being held by a hand
The Western Smooth Earthsnake and Midwestern Worm Snake look nearly identical, are native to the same regions in Indiana, and have the same habitat preferences. With practice, you can learn to recognize the Earthsnake’s more distinguishable head and neck, duller scales, and lighter-colored bellied, compared to Worm Snakes. Image credit: u/Coy_Cicada (via Reddit.com)
Scientific Name: Virginia valeriae elegans
Range: Spotty distribution in Western Indiana
Size: 7 – 12 in.
Description: Smooth scales

Base color is drab gray-brown, body is patternless

Habitat: Stony, hilly habitats
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Non-Venomous

Northern Ring-Necked Snake

Northern ring-necked snake on top of a rock
If you’d like to find a Northern Ring-Necked Snake, check under rocks and logs in the ravines and gorges of Southern Indiana.
Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
Range: Southern ½ of Indiana
Size: 10 – 15 in.
Description: Smooth scales

Base color is dark gray to black

Belly is bright yellow and also forms a thin ring around the neck

Habitat: Woodlands
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Mildly Venomous (not medically significant to humans)

Southeastern Crowned Snake

Southeastern crowned snake on top of a tissue paper
The Southeastern Crowned Snake closely resembles Ring-Necked snakes in regards to size and pattern, but Crowned Snakes are almost always tan or brown with a dull white ring, while Ring-Necked snakes are almost always gray or black with a bright yellow ring.
Image Credit: u/Barba_del_Lobo (via Reddit.com)
Scientific Name: Tantilla coronata
Range: Floyd and Clark Counties
Size: 8 – 10 in.
Description: Smooth scales

Base color is light tan

Black head separated from body by a single light-colored ‘crown’ around their neck (hence the name)

Habitat: Rocky glades
Venomous/Non-Venomous: Mildly Venomous (not medically significant to humans)

Snakes in Southern Indiana

Southern Indiana accommodates a broad range of reptilian species thanks to its warm climate and diverse landscape.

Here are the typically-found snakes in Southern Indiana:

  • Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)
  • Eastern Racer (Coluber constrictor)
  • Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata)
  • Kirtland’s Snake (Clonophis kirtlandii)
  • Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum)
  • Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
  • Western Mud Snake (Farancia abacura)
  • DeKay’s Brown Snakes (Storeria dekayi)
  • Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster)
  • Northern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
  • Eastern Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra)
  • Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
  • Northern Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea)
  • Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
  • Midland Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon pleuralis)
  • Southeastern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata)
  • Red Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum syspila)
  • Gray or Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis spiloides)
  • Northern Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
  • Ribbon Snakes and Garter Snakes (Thamnophis spp.)
  • Western Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae elegans)
  • Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum)
  • Midwestern Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus helenae)
  • Northern Diamondback Water Snake (Nerodia rhombifer)
  • Copperbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta)
  • Northern Rough Greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus aestivus)
  • Northern Ring-Necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii)

Snakes in Northern Indiana

While Northern Indiana may not boast the level of species diversity that the lower half of the state does, the snakes that do survive in Northern Indiana are prime examples of resilience and adaptability in reptiles.

Many of these cold-tolerant species also inhabit Michigan.

  • Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)
  • Eastern Racer (Coluber constrictor)
  • Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata)
  • Kirtland’s Snake (Clonophis kirtlandii)
  • DeKay’s Brown Snakes (Storeria dekayi)
  • Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis)
  • Eastern Foxsnake (Pantherophis vulpinus)
  • Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster)
  • Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
  • Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon)
  • Gray or Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis spiloides)
  • Northern Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
  • Ribbon Snakes and Garter Snakes (Thamnophis spp.)
  • Western Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae elegans)
  • Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus)
  • Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum)
  • Copperbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta)
  • Northern Ring-Necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii)

What You Need to Know

No matter how scary you might think snakes are, in reality, snakes (even venomous ones) see larger beings – like us humans – as potential predators.

Most snakes would rather flee or hide than fight.

Coexisting with Indiana Snakes

Snakes play a vital role in Indiana’s natural ecosystem.

Predators, including birds of prey, foxes, and raccoons, rely on snakes as a source of food, which also controls pest populations.

Greensnakes will eat pest insects, like locusts.

Kingsnakes will eat other snakes, including venomous ones.

Rat Snakes in Indiana, as their name suggests, can clear rodents from a property.

Even tiny DeKay’s Brown Snakes and Earthsnakes eat garden pests, like slugs.

Snake Safety 101

The most important piece of snake safety advice I can offer is to leave snakes alone.

If you see a venomous serpent on a trail or your property, leave it alone, and it will eventually move on. Snakes don’t want anything to do with people.

About Venomous Snakes

Venomous pit viper bites in Indiana aren’t all that bad compared to other areas in the world.

Your chances of surviving a bite from any of Indiana’s species are pretty high, as long as you seek treatment at the nearest emergency room.

Further complicating matters, some harmless species, like the Eastern Garter Snake, are mildly venomous. Their specialized saliva only affects their intended prey; not humans or pets.

Treading Carefully in Snake Habitat

  • Use a walking stick
  • Watch where you step
  • Wear sturdy shoes and long pants
  • Keep your pets close and on a leash
  • Stay on designated paths without overgrown vegetation
  • Teach your children to follow these snake safety tips in wilderness areas
  • Be cautious of where you put your hands and don’t reach where you can’t see

If You Encounter a Snake

  1. Do not disturb the snake!
  2. Freeze and assess the snake’s precise location or direction of travel
  3. Back up and put at least five feet of distance between you and the snake
  4. Turn back or travel around the snake, maintaining the five-foot distance

Expert Tip: If you find a nest of snake eggs, the best thing to do is leave them alone. Disturbing them can kill the developing offspring, and might be illegal where you live.

When to Call for Help

The answer is quite simple: you only need to call for help if you’re bitten by a venomous snake, if you’re trapped somewhere with a venomous snake, or if an injured snake needs help.

Useful Resources

Educational Resources

Midwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

Indiana Department of Natural Resources Snake Information Page

Indiana Herp Atlas

Hoosier Herpetological Society

Our turtle identification guide, which includes many turtles native to Indiana

Snake Relocation Services

Free Snake Relocation Directory on Facebook

Emergency Envenomation Advice

Indiana Poison Control Center: (800)222-1222

Indiana Poison Control Center – Emergencies: (317)962-2335

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center: 1-888-426-4435

Related Species and Articles to Indiana Snakes

If you’re interested in identifying wild reptiles, have a look at:

You can also check out our other reptile ID guides – carefully written by our experienced experts!

Have you ever seen a wild snake in Indiana? Were you able to use our guide to identify the species? Tell us about your exciting experience in the comment section, below.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Join the discussion! Leave a comment below nowx
()
x