If you’re heading to the great state of Indiana you’re sure to have a great time. Home to the legendary Indianapolis 500 motor race and the birthplace of American icons such as James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Michael Jackson, Indianapolis knows how to have fun. But are there snakes in Indiana? You bet there are.
If you suffer from ophidiophobia, the bad news is that there are nearly forty different species of snake found in Indiana. The relatively good news is that there are only four venomous snakes in Indiana that pose any threat to humans. Also, these snakes are all endangered, meaning that it’s very unlikely that they’ll ever cross your path. That said, forewarned is forearmed, and if you are worried about bumping into any snakes in the Hoosier state, we’ve got you covered.
Read on to find out all you need to know about the most dangerous and the most common snakes in Indiana.
We begin with the most dangerous snake in Indianapolis. The timber rattlesnake is commonly found across many of the eastern states of North America. Thankfully they’re not particularly common in Indiana, where they’re considered to be endangered.
In Indiana, the timber rattlesnake is largely confined to Brown County State Park, about an hour’s drive south of the state capital, Indianapolis. The rangers at Brown County State Park have counted 115 timber rattlesnakes living inside the park. Though it’s a venomous pit viper, the timber rattlesnake rarely attacks humans.
Even though it produces a highly toxic venom that is strong enough to kill a human, the timber snake rarely bites aggressors. Unlike other vipers, the timber rattlesnake is not particularly aggressive and prefers to rattle for long periods to intimidate and scare off any potential attackers. There have been no recorded bites by timber rattlesnakes inside Brown County State Park in the last thirty years.
The western cottonmouth is another of Indiana’s venomous yet relatively rare snakes. Cottonmouth snakes are found throughout the eastern and southeastern states of America, where they go by many different names. These snakes are the only known viper that can live in water and are classed as semi-aquatic. They’re most likely to be found in wet and damp environments, and are common in and around the lakes, ponds, streams, marshes, and swamps of the southern United States.
The cottonmouth viper gets its name from the color of the mucus lining inside its mouth, which it jams wide open whenever it feels threatened. Usually around a meter in length, the western cottonmouth’s venom can be deadly to humans, though fatalities from their bites are incredibly rare.
The venom is classified as cytotoxic, meaning that it can cause lasting damage to the victim’s cells. Though untreated bites could ultimately prove fatal, in most cases a victim will experience severe pain, damage to the cells and tissues around the bitten area and swelling.
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
The eastern massasauga rattlesnake is another venomous pit viper found across a huge swathe of North America, reaching from Canada, across the United States and into northern Mexico. Though they’re common across North America, in Indiana and most of the eastern United States they’re officially classified as endangered.
Easy to spot, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake features a distinctive pattern of large black or brown patches. They live in a variety of different environments, including swamplands and drier grassy regions, where they live off a diet of rodents, lizards and smaller snakes. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake’s venom is mainly used to capture its prey. The venom destroys the tissue of its victim and also induces internal bleeding, or hemorrhaging.
Thankfully attacks on humans are incredibly rare. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake is shy by nature, preferring to avoid any confrontation with larger animals, particularly humans. Most bites have only occurred when humans have come directly into contact with the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, either through stepping on them in the wild or when handling them.
The northern copperhead snake is the fourth and final venomous snake in Indiana. Mostly found in southern areas of Indiana, it also resides across much of the eastern and southern United States. Occasionally growing to over a meter in length the northern copperhead’s body is typically a tanned brown color with distinctive markings along its body. The orange-tinged hue on its head is where the snake gets its name.
Though venomous, the northern copperhead is known to have an incredibly relaxed nature. Rather than attacking predators the northern copperhead prefers to freeze and keep still at any sign of danger. This sometimes backfires as they become camouflaged against their surroundings when frozen and people can accidentally step on them. This can lead to the snake biting its unsuspecting victim.
Most bites from a northern copperhead are generally non-threatening and largely given as a warning to their transgressor. A bite with a full dose of venom can do plenty of damage, such as swelling, vomiting, and permanent damage to bone and muscle tissue.
Northern Brown Snake
The northern brown snake is one of the most common snakes in Indiana, and like the rest of the snakes on the remainder of our list, is also non-venomous. These snakes have a huge range of habitation, reaching all the way from Canada, down through much of the eastern United States and as far as Central America.
Though they’re one of the most common snakes in Indiana, they’re also one of the smallest. The northern brown snake typically grows to a relatively tiny twelve inches, meaning that if you come across one you’ll probably not feel particularly threatened. In fact, the northern brown snake often fall prey to larger snakes in the wild.
Northern Diamondback Water Snake
The northern diamondback water snake is another non-venomous snake that is common in Indiana. Though it is harmless to humans, the northern diamondback water snake bears a strong resemblance to the venomous timber rattlesnake and the western cottonmouth. This mistaken identity often proves fatal as they’re regularly killed as people wrongly assume that they’re deadly.
Besides having a passing resemblance to their deadlier cousins, they do share similar behaviors when threatened, including hissing and biting. Though a bite will be painful it will not be toxic. In reality, the northern diamondback water snake poses very little threat to humans at all, preferring to live near large bodies of water.
Excellent swimmers, the northern diamondback water snake like to hunt for prey by hanging over rivers and streams whilst wrapped around tree branches, dipping its head below water to catch fish with its long sharp teeth.
Eastern Garter Snake
There are only four venomous snakes in Indiana that pose any threat to humans. However, there are a few more snakes in Indiana that are venomous but are only harmful to their prey. This is true of the eastern garter snake. This is a venomous snake but as it has no fangs it cannot inject humans with its venom.
Instead, the eastern garter snake injects its venom into its prey through its saliva as they chew on small reptiles and insects, such as frogs, toads and worms. Like many of the snakes in Indiana, the eastern garter snake is commonly found throughout most of the eastern United States, as well as southern Canada and the northern states of Mexico.
A mid-sized snake, the eastern garter snake tends to grow to around half a meter in length. Highly adaptive, the eastern garter snake is comfortable in a wide range of environments. Though they prefer green spaces such as farmlands and forests, they’re commonly found in urban areas too, particularly in and around parks and other partly rural parts of cities.
Eastern Hognose Snake
The eastern hognose snake is another very common yet largely harmless snake found in Indiana. Adults tend to grow to around seventy centimeters in length and their bodies can be one of a wide variety of different colors and patterns. Depending on the region, an eastern hognose snake’s body could be black, brown, orange, yellow or green and feature a number of different patterns. Though harmless to humans, the eastern hognose snake is venomous to its prey.
The jaws of the eastern hognose snake feature a set of backwards facing fangs. These are used to inject venom into smaller animals such as toads, frogs and other small amphibians as they’re captured. The location of the teeth at the rear of the jaw, combined with the low levels of toxicity of their venom, means that they pose no risk to humans.
If threatened, however, the eastern hognose snake will defend itself by hissing loudly and raising its head off the ground. If this fails, they’ve been known to attack by launching themselves at aggressors, though they will not bite. If that fails, their final trick is to play dead and hope their attacker loses interest.
Eastern Milk Snake
The colorful eastern milk snake is the last on our list of Indiana’s snakes and is as harmless as they come. The eastern milk snake is also one of the easiest to recognize too, featuring a distinctive bold pattern of reddish-brown, white and black stripes along its body. Mostly living in green rural spaces, such as farmland and woods, they’re sometimes confused with the timber rattlesnake despite their colorful markings.
Yet unlike the timber rattlesnake, the eastern milk snake is incredibly mild-mannered and will only ever attack in very rare circumstances and only when it feels very threatened. In fact, the eastern milk snake is a very popular pet thanks to its calm temperament and laid-back nature. The eastern milk snake’s thin body and relatively small size means that they’re the ideal snake for those wanting to keep a snake in captivity.
What kind of snakes are common in Indiana?
The most common snakes in Indiana are the northern diamondback water snake, the northern brown snake, and the eastern garter snake.
How many types of venomous snakes are in Indiana?
There are four types of venomous snakes in Indiana, the timber rattlesnake, the western cottonmouth, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake and the northern copperhead.
What is the deadliest snake in the state of Indiana?
The deadliest snake in Indiana is the venomous timber rattlesnake, though it rarely attacks humans.
What is the largest snake in Indiana?
The largest snake in Indiana is the eastern rat snake, which can grow up to six feet long.