Wondering what kinds of snakes we have here in Michigan and how to tell the difference? Find out with our 60-Second Snakes video series on the DNR’ YouTube channel!
Michigan is home to 18 different snake species, but there’ no need to worry, since most found here are harmless and tend to avoid people. If you do spot a snake, give it space to slither away, and you likely won’t see it again. Handling or harassing snakes is the most common reason people get bit.
Simply put, if left alone, Michigan snakes will leave people alone.
While most snakes in Michigan aren’t dangerous, there is one venomous species found here – the eastern massasauga rattlesnake.
As the name implies, the massasauga rattlesnake has a segmented rattle on its tail. But keep in mind that other Michigan snakes – even those without segmented rattles – also may buzz or vibrate their tails when approached or handled.
‘The massasauga rattlesnake tends to be a very shy snake that will avoid humans whenever possible,’ said Hannah Schauer, wildlife communications coordinator with the DNR. ‘They spend most of their time in wetlands hunting for small rodents and aren’t often encountered. In fact, this snake is listed as a threatened species.’
Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan, can and do occur. Anyone who is bitten should seek immediate medical attention.
Snakes play an important role in ecosystem health by keeping rodent numbers in check and, in turn, feeding larger predators, especially hawks and owls. Help monitor Michigan’ reptile and amphibian populations by reporting your sightings to our Herp Atlas database. Visit miherpatlas.org to get started.
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