Various types of snakes live in Ohio. In this article, we are featuring 16 Snakes that can be found in the state, and each species has its specific behaviors.
What Types of Snakes Are There in Ohio?
The range of snakes that can be found in Ohio is quite interesting. Snakes can vary quite a lot between the different species. Some examples of this are snakes that prefer to stay near the water, and there are also species of snakes that prefer dry grasslands. Ohio is a state of contrasts, and the snakes here are no exception. In this article, the snakes have been split into categories.
Poisonous Snakes in Ohio
Three species of snakes live in Ohio that are poisonous.
Eastern Copper Head Snake (Agkistrodon contortrix)
The adults can reach up to 37 inches in length. They have a very broad head and a muscular body. Each individual can have different colors. Some are quite dark, and some can be lighter. Please be aware that these venomous snakes can be found in mixed woodlands and areas that have plenty of rocks. These snakes like to be active in the daytime when it is not too hot, so spring and fall are good times to see them.
The Eastern Copperhead are ‘pit vipers.’ This means that they can sense their prey due to their body heat. If you do get bitten by one of these snakes, try not to panic. Their venom is not too powerful, but you should wrap the bite area with a towel and, if possible, hold the bite area above your head. It must be said that most bites from these snakes are ‘dry bites,’ so they do not release any venom.
These snakes feed on small animals like frogs and small rodents. When they bite their prey, they sit back whilst the venom gets to work. Once the venom has worked, they will then consume their catch.
Eastern Massasauga Snake (Sistrurus catenatus)
The adults can grow to around 2 feet long. They have quite thick bodies and heart-shaped heads, and they are rattlesnakes, so check out their rattles at the end of their tails. These snakes are either gray or light brown with patches on their backs.
The best place to find these snakes is in Ohio’s wetlands. Their name is from the Native American Ojibwe language, and in English, it means “Great River Mouth.” They can also be found in swamps, wet prairies, bogs, and marshes, as well as wetlands.
This rattlesnake is a loner and prefers to hibernate on its own. They will try to find a nice, quiet spot where their body temperature can be kept regulated. Some places they like to hibernate are tree roots, logs, and underground burrows. They must hibernate in a place that does not get cold, as they could freeze to death.
It is highly unlikely to be bitten by one of these snakes as they are quite shy and don’t seem to have a lot of time for humans. If one is unfortunate enough to be bitten, these snakes have cytotoxic venom, so a trip to the Emergency Room would be required.
Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
The adults of these snakes can grow to a length of 60 inches. The colors of these individuals can be anything from black to yellow. These snakes have quite a heavy look to them, and they have their rattle at the end of their tails. The Timber Rattlesnake is also known as the Canebrake Rattlesnake. They can be found in the southern counties of Ohio in places like forests, farms, rivers, and floodplains.
Timber Rattlesnakes like to ambush their prey. They release venom into it, then let the prey go. When the venom has taken effect, then they will eat their catch. Whilst these snakes do not tend to bite humans often, they are still the most dangerous snakes that can be found in Ohio. They have a high venom yield, and their fangs are very long.
The one thing about these snakes is that if you do come across one and they are not happy about your presence, they give you plenty of warning that they want you to go away!
Water Snakes in Ohio
Below, we feature four species of Water Snakes that call Ohio their home.
Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata)
The Queen snake will usually grow to a length of around 24 inches. These snakes are either brown or a dark green color, and all species have two lighter stripes that run down their sides. The underside of this snake is usually a tan color, and it will have four dark stripes that run along its belly. This is the only species that has a belly like this.
These snakes like to relax around places that have water. In an ideal world, the water will be moving, so you are more likely to find them around rivers and streams. They also have highly permeable skin, so this is the main reason why they are always found near water. These snakes do enjoy going for a swim and when the weather conditions are right, they enjoy basking on rocks as well. Queen snakes will eat young crayfish, as the young crayfish cannot use their pinchers, so they are quite easy prey.
Plain-Bellied Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster)
Plain-bellied water snakes are known to grow to a length of 40 inches. Colors can be different between individuals. The colors tend to be dark green, brown, black, or gray. They have a plain belly (naturally), and the color is usually red or, more rarely, yellow.
These snakes can be found in northwestern Ohio, and they can be found near water sources like ponds, streams, rivers, and wetlands.
Even though it is a water snake, it does enjoy spending quite a lot of time on land as well. When the weather is humid, it is not uncommon for them to be found in woodlands where there is no water supply.
Plain-bellied Water Snakes have no issue taking prey from the water or the land. They enjoy eating salamanders, fish, frogs, and crayfish.
Another difference that the Plain-Bellied Water Snake has from other water snakes is that they stay still when they are hunting. All the other species of water snakes give chase.
It is advised not to capture these snakes for two reasons. The first reason is that when they are captured, they get annoyed and let off a foul stench. The second reason is that they will not think twice about biting someone. These guys are best to be left alone.
Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon)
Northern water snakes can grow to a length of 55 inches. They are a dark brown color with a reddish tinge and some lovely black bands. As they get older, the color of this snake will turn black. In this species of snake, the female is larger than the male. The Northern Water Snake is the most common water snake that can be found in Ohio.
Northern Water Snakes prefer water sources that are slow-moving. Some of the places they can be found are marshes, lakes, ponds, and streams. They do like to bask as well, so it is quite likely that you will see them on old trees and logs.
These snakes eat prey like fish, salamanders, and frogs. They are not poisonous, so when they eat their prey, they will capture it and eat the prey whilst it is still alive! When you see these snakes, they will usually go into the water and swim away.
It is strongly advised not to capture them as they can get quite aggressive very quickly, and they are known for having a painful bite. They also let off a foul odor when they are distressed, so it is best not to even think about grabbing them.
Copperbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta)
Copperbelly Water Snakes can grow to a length of 60 inches. They have a solid dark, usually black, back with a bright orange-red underside. Thin bands of black extend from the snake’s back that may meet or nearly meet at the belly.
The Copperbelly Water Snake is an endangered species – experts estimate that fewer than 100 individuals, possibly as few as 40, remain – and they are now only known to live in Williams County, northwest Ohio. Frogs and tadpoles make up the main diet of these snakes.
Copperbelly Water Snakes live by shallow wetlands, floodplain wetlands, or a combination of both. Individuals move hundreds of feet between wetlands, and during an active season, they will use multiple locations.
Although non-venomous, a bite from a Copperbelly Water Snake can be painful.
Black Snakes In Ohio
Below are the top four black snakes that live in various areas of Ohio.
Eastern Black King Snake (Lampropeltis getula)
Eastern Black King Snakes can grow to a length of 48 inches. These snakes are black, but they can have yellow or cream speckles on them. The body of these snakes are quite stocky, and you cannot really tell where the head and body is different. They have a cream underside, and in some individuals, it is checkered.
The Eastern Black King Snake is found in the southern counties of Ohio. The places where these snakes can be found are swamps, streams, wetlands, and suburban areas as well.
These snakes are quite shy, and they prefer to shelter in places where they will not be disturbed. They prefer to be active in the daytime, and in the warmer months, they are seen in the mornings. The black King Snake is a constrictor, so when it goes after prey like lizards, birds, rodents, and other snakes, it will constrict the prey and asphyxiate it.
These snakes do not like to be disturbed, so handling them is not a good idea. If they are handled, they can let off a foul odor and strike.
Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)
The Black rat snake is the longest snake that you will find in Ohio. These snakes usually grow to a length of six feet, and some individuals can actually get to eight feet! As the name suggests, they are black, and they can have a light color between the scales.
The best places to find Black Rat Snakes are fields and forests. These snakes are constrictors, so they constrict their prey before consumption. These snakes are actually very useful as they eat venomous snakes. So, if you manage to find one of these snakes, then it is best to leave well alone due to their natural usefulness.
Northern Black Racer Snake (Coluber constrictor constrictor)
The Northern Black Racer can be found in Eastern Ohio. These snakes can grow to around 55 inches, and one fact that is quite unusual about these snakes is that they use their eyesight. This means that they will come up to dogs, cats, and humans.
Most snakes tend to use their smell before their eyes. Once they do realize that they have got up close and personal with humans, most of these guys will slither off.
The Northern Black Racer also breeds with the Blue Racers, so a lot of the offspring can be difficult to pick out. It is quite common for people to get these snakes confused with the Black Rat Snakes as there are few differences between them.
Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis saurita)
If you like to go to one of Ohio’s great shorelines, then there is a chance that you will bump into a ribbon snake. The ribbon snake can grow to 26 inches, and they are quite sleek.
Shorelines are the places where the ribbon snake likes to chill as they are quite close to the water. These snakes eat aquatic animals like tadpoles, frogs, salamanders, and fish.
The ribbon snake looks quite similar to the garter snake; the only difference is the stripes between the two species. If you see a ribbon snake swimming, it is always very surprising to see how fast they can move in the water.
Garter Snakes In Ohio
Three of the species of garter snakes that can be found in Ohio
Check out our article about Garter Snakes in Ohio!
Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)
The Eastern Garter snake can grow to a maximum of 26 inches. These snakes have a unique yellowish stripe that runs right down their back. The stripe is quite distinctive, as the snakes tend to be either black, dark green, or brown.
The Eastern garter snake is very common in all areas of Ohio, and these snakes are up there with the most commonly seen snake. These snakes are pretty good at adapting to most areas, but the most common places to see them are parks, cemeteries, prairies, and gardens.
They also prefer to be near an area that has a water supply. However, it is also quite normal to find them in dry places. These snakes like to feast on animals like frogs, salamanders, fish, toads, and earthworms. If the conditions allow, they will also eat other animals like beetles and small rodents.
Plains Garter Snake (Thamnophis radix)
Plains garter snakes are not found in most of Ohio and can grow up to 22 inches. There is a population of them in Wyandot County. These snakes need wet prairie lands to live in, and back in the day, large areas of Ohio were wet prairie land. Nowadays, this is not the case, but in Wyandot County, there are still areas of land that are suitable for this species.
Even though they are very selective about where they live, they are very similar to other species of garter snakes. These garter snakes are not fans of humans, so when humans set up in an area where the snakes live, they will simply go elsewhere.
Butler’s Garter Snakes in Ohio (Thamnophis butleri)
Butler’s Garter Snakes can grow up to 20 inches in length. These snakes have three distinctive stripes that cover the body, and they tend to be either black or a very dark brown color. They like to feast on animals such as worms and leeches. These snakes are a little different from their cousins as they do not have a diverse diet.
They can be found in the Northwestern areas of Ohio, and they exist in isolated groups, so to see one is a bit more difficult than some of the other species that live in Ohio. The best places to see Butler’s Garter Snakes are marshes, grasslands, and meadows.
Rat Snakes in Ohio
Two species of rat snake can be found in Ohio.
Gray Rat Snake (Pantherophis spiloides)
The Gray Rat Snake normally grows to around 70 inches in length, but some individuals have been recorded to grow to 100 inches in length. In different areas, these snakes have different colors; in Ohio, they are black. Some individuals may be completely black, and some individuals have a smattering of red and white dotted around their bodies.
These snakes prefer to live in trees, so do not be surprised to see one hanging out (quite literally) of trees. They can also be found in trees that are close to swamps, prairies, streams, and farms.
Another place where they can be found is in old outbuildings like barns and sheds. They like these buildings because they love to eat rodents, which can be found in places like this.
These snakes are known to be very active, especially when they are hunting, and they are constrictors as well. Whilst these snakes are quite placid, they will get angry if disturbed. They can shake the end of their tail, similar to a rattlesnake, and if they are handled, they will strike if they feel anxious.
Eastern Foxsnake (Pantherophis vulpinus)
The adults of this species can grow to around 70 inches in length. They are a light brown color with bronze and red tinges on their backs and bellies. Eastern fox snakes can be found throughout Ohio in places like farms, grasslands, and prairies.
These snakes prefer wet areas over dry locations. They also don’t have any issue climbing up into a tree as they are excellent climbers.
During the summer, they like to hunt at night, and during the day, they will relax under rocks. In the winter months, they hibernate in burrows underground. These snakes like to consume rodents, birds, frogs, toads, and eggs.
They are also a constrictor species, so they constrict their food. Eastern Foxsnakes are not fans of being disturbed, and they can produce a foul odor to try to get rid of predators.
Cindy’s Insider Ohio Tips!
When encountering a snake in Ohio, maintain a safe distance, stay calm, and allow the snake to move away on its own, as most Ohio snakes are non-venomous and play a crucial role in the ecosystem.
Seeing Snakes in Ohio!
Have you spotted any Snakes in Ohio during your outdoor adventures? We’d love to know what species you have spotted! Were you able to take any photographs? Drop us a comment below and let us know!