Venomous Snakes of Iowa | Krebs Creek (2022)

There are 28 snakes in Iowa with only 5 being venomous.

Western Massasauga(Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus )

Eastern Massasauga(Sistrurus catenatus catenatus)

Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)

Timber Rattlesnake(Crotalus horridus)

Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)

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Venomous Snakes of Iowa | Krebs Creek (1)

Western Massasauga

TheWestern Massasaugarattlesnake grows to a length between 14 – 36 inches. Their body is a light gray with dark brown blotches. They are similar to the Desert Massasauga but lighter in color. They also have a dark stripe that goes from the side of their face and across the eye.

It is given the nickname “buzztale” for its high-pitched rattle sound, which is different from other rattlesnakes.

(Video) Iowa's Venomous Snakes

TheWestern Massasaugais very rare in Iowa. Few sightings of this snake are found in the southwestern part of the state in Mills county.

The venom of theWestern Massasaugarattlesnake is cytotoxic venom that destroys tissue. The cytotoxic venom contains digestive enzymes that disrupt blood flow and prevent blood from clotting. A bite to a human is rare. Most bites occur after someone deliberately handles them or accidentally steps on one. In Ontario, Canada, there are two cases of people dying from a not properly treated bite because the specific antivenom is not easily acquired.

Venomous Snakes of Iowa | Krebs Creek (2)

Eastern Massasauga

The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake is a small to medium-sized snake ranging from 18″ to 30″. Their body is gray with brownish-black blotches. Some actually look entirely black in color.

Eastern Massasaugas are rare in Iowa. A few have been spotted in the east to the southeastern part of the state.

The Eastern Massasauga is generally thought to be docile and sluggish animals unless they are provoked. But, caution should be taken when meeting a massasauga because their venom can be lethal to humans.

The venom of the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake is cytotoxic venom that destroys tissue. The cytotoxic venom contains digestive enzymes that disrupt blood flow and prevent blood from clotting. A bite to a human is rare. Most bites occur after someone deliberately handles them or accidentally steps on one. In Ontario, Canada, there are two cases of people dying from a poorly treated bite because the specific antivenom is not easily acquired.

Venomous Snakes of Iowa | Krebs Creek (3)

Eastern Copperhead

The adult Eastern Copperhead can grow anywhere between 20 – 37 inches long. They have a moderately stout body with a broad head that is distinct from the neck. Their head is a copper color, which is why they are given the name “Copperhead.” The Eastern Copperheads’ body is generally dark brown to a reddish-brown, with dark brown, hourglass-shaped crossbands that fade to a lighter brown in the center of the bands.

The Eastern Copperhead is very rare in Iowa. A few have been spotted in the southeastern corner in Davis, Lee, and Van Buren counties.

Like mostpit vipers, the Eastern Copperheads venom is hemotoxic.The Eastern Copperhead has the ability to bite and inject venom from as young as a newly born snake. A bite from this snake should be considered a medical emergency, and the victim should be taken to the hospital immediately. Symptoms from a bite may include severe pain, fluid retention, blood in the urine, shock, renal failure, and localized cell damage.

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Venomous Snakes of Iowa | Krebs Creek (4)

Timber Rattlesnake (Canebrake Rattlesnake)

The average Timber Rattlesnake grows between 36 to 60 inches long. However, there have been reports of them growing up to 7 feet long. They vary in color; some have a gray, with a pinkish hue body. They have a stripe down their back that ranges from pinkish, orange, brown, or black, with dark brown to black chevron, patterned bands on their back and sides. Some of the snakes are very dark and almost completely black.

The Timber Rattlesnake lives in various habitats, including mountainous forests, pine forests, swamps, farm fields, and river floodplains. In the winter, they are found hibernating in crevices in the ground. These snakes are marvelous climbers and have been found in trees at heights of more than 80 feet.Source

In Iowa, these snakes are found along the Mississippi River and the southern third of the state.

Due to its long fangs, impressive size, and highvenomyield, the Timber Rattlesnake is one of North America’s most dangerous snakes. Some of the complications from a Timber Rattlesnake bite may include severe shock, seizures, coma, severe internal bleeding, and deep tissue damage, leading to gangrene.Source

Venomous Snakes of Iowa | Krebs Creek (5)

Prairie Rattlesnake

ThePrairie Rattlesnakegrows anywhere from 3ft to 5ft long. They are tan-colored with varying colors of brown blotches covering their bodies. They have a distinguishing triangle-shaped head with pit sensory organs on either side. A light stripe runs diagonally from the back of its eye to its jaw and another strip runs diagonally from below its eye to the corner of its mouth. Prairie Rattlesnakes are mostly ground snakes, but they occasionally climb into shrubs, bushes, or trees. Their venom is both hemotoxic and neurotoxic.

Prairie Rattlesnakesare another very rare snake, The only known sighting is in the Loess Hills in western Plymouth County.

APrairie Rattlesnakebite’s signs and symptoms include extreme pain, blistering, swelling, nausea, and vomiting. The venom can impair blood coagulation and break down the red blood cells, leading to tissue necrosis, shock, and rarely multiple organ damage.Source

Symptoms of Venomous Snake Bites

Some of the symptoms you may experience when a venomous snake bites you include:

  • Discoloration in the area of the bite.
  • Swelling in the area of the bite.
  • Loss of your muscle coordination.
  • Tingling sensation in the area of the bite.
  • Feeling nauseous.
  • Having a faster heartbeat or rapid pulse.

What Should You Do If You Are Bitten?

If you think you or someone you know or encounter has been bitten by a rattlesnake, time is precious because of the effects that the venom causes on the human body. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect that a rattlesnake or other venomous snake bit you. Take these first aid steps in the case that a rattlesnake or other venomous snake has bitten you or someone around you:

(Video) Common Iowa Snakes

  • Remain calm and limit your movements. Do not run. If you must hike back to a vehicle, do it in a calm, deliberate manner. Put as little stress on your heart as possible.
  • Keep the area of the snake bite below the heart level and never above heart level. Keeping the bite below the heart level will reduce the venom’s flow, while holding the bite above your heart level will increase the venom’s flow.
  • Since the snake bite will swell, it is advised to remove all constricting items such as bracelets, watches, or rings because the area will most likely begin swelling.
  • You can wash the bite area like you would any other wound with soap and water.
  • You may cover the bite area with a moist dressing to reduce the swelling and some of the discomfort you or the person that has been bitten may be feeling.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible. If you or someone has a phone, call the hospital or ambulance to tell them a venomous snake may have bitten you so they can have the anti-venom ready to give you as soon as you arrive.

A person who a venomous snake has bitten may go into shock. If this happens, you should lay them flat and cover them with a blanket.

After a poisonous snake has bitten someone, they will attempt to kill it to take it in to be identified. This is rarely a good idea. It’s potentially a good way to get bit again. Remember, a dead snake can still bite you. Also consider, that severed snakeheads can still bite and envenomate and often do. If you have a phone, take a picture of the offending reptile. Otherwise, get started on your way to the doctor.

Patty Bingham

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FAQs

What is the most venomous snake in Iowa? ›

The most common type of venomous snake in Iowa is the Timber Rattlesnake. They are also the largest and most dangerous. They can be found in eastern and southern Iowa especially in wooded areas untouched by man. Another venomous snake that can be found in Iowa is the Massasauga.

What are the venomous snakes in Iowa? ›

Iowa has only four venomous snakes, and their bites are rarely fatal if treated. The massasauga and timber rattlesnakes are rare, but found in eastern and southern Iowa. The prairie rattlesnake and copperhead are even rarer in our state. Only garter snakes can be legally caught, collected or killed in all counties.

Are there any venomous water snakes in Iowa? ›

Northern water snakes are NOT venomous and are found throughout Iowa. Colin estimated the snake at about 3 feet long. They primarily eat fish, and while this fish is large, the snake may be able to swallow it head-first. This is NOT a venomous cottonmouth (also called a water moccasin), which is NOT found in Iowa.

What is the biggest snake in Iowa? ›

The gopher snake is the largest species of snake in Iowa. This snake ranges from 37 – 72 inches (94.8-183 cm) in length.

Do water moccasins live in Iowa? ›

These are harmless snakes! The famous, and venomous, cottonmouth (or water moccasin), Agkistrodon piscivorus, is not found in Iowa.

Where are copperheads found in Iowa? ›

The copperhead lives in rocky, wooded hillsides, particularly near streams and ponds.

Is a water moccasin a pit viper? ›

The cottonmouth or water moccasin, Agkistrodon piscivorus, is a semi-aquatic pit viper found throughout the southeastern United States and into east Texas. Cottonmouth snakes are part of the Crotalinae family of pit vipers which includes rattlesnakes and copperheads.

Are there milk snakes in Iowa? ›

Eastern milk snakes are found almost statewide in Iowa. Rocky hillsides provide the favored habitat in Iowa, at least that is where they are most often seen. Farmlands, grasslands bordering woodlands, and rock outcroppings, especially near waterways, are used.

What is a black snake in Iowa? ›

Western rat snakes are often called “blacksnakes” by most Iowans. Western rat snakes emerge from their rocky crevice retreats in April or early May. They overwinter with other rat snakes and/or with many other snakes species, most notably timber rattlesnakes, racers, and bullsnakes.

Are Iowa bull snakes poisonous? ›

(There are nearly 30 species of snakes in Iowa) It can grow up to a length of eight feet. They are non-venomous and their diet mainly consists of mice, moles, rats, gophers, squirrels, and some birds and lizards. They are even considered 'helpful' because of the large number of crop-destroying rodents that they devour.

What venomous animals are in Iowa? ›

Iowa does have four species of venomous snakes: Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis), eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) and timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus).

Is the northern water snake poisonous? ›

Northern water snakes are not poisonous. However, water snakes are frequently confused with venomous cottonmouth snakes, also known as water moccasins.

How many snakes live in Iowa? ›

Snakes. There are 27 species of snakes in Iowa.

Do bull snakes eat rattlesnakes? ›

No, bullsnakes do not kill rattlesnakes—they don't hunt them down, and they don't eat them. The sole exception to this is opportunity. For example; a hungry adult bullsnake might eat a newborn, or small, dead, rattlesnake, if given the opportunity.

Does Iowa Have bull snakes? ›

Bullsnakes are found all over the State of Iowa. This statewide presence does not mean they are everywhere you go in the state. Bullsnakes prefer farmlands, forests, grasslands, and woodlands, often inhabiting burrows in the ground.

Can snakes come up through shower drains? ›

Snakes can come up through shower drains, but it is extremely rare. Most of us never need to worry about this. Even if you do live in an area where this is more likely to happen, take comfort knowing it is still rare in those areas.

What is a brown snake in Iowa? ›

DeKay's brown snakes are common in Iowa. Description. Harmless to humans. This is a small Iowa species measuring 13 – 18 inches long (Conant and Collins, 1991). The ground color on the back is a varying shade of brown or gray.

Are there fox snakes in Iowa? ›

The western fox snake is the most common constricting snake in most parts of Iowa and occurs throughout the state. A number of south central counties appear to have lower numbers of western fox snakes as perhaps the more diverse feeding habits of prairie kingsnakes may out compete western fox snakes.

How can u tell if a snake is venomous? ›

While most snakes have a triangular head, venomous snakes will have a more bulging look to them, especially along their jaws, because of their venomous sacks. Harmless snakes will have a skinnier head because of their lack of venomous sacks.

Are there king snakes in Iowa? ›

Prairie kingsnakes are found in the southern third of Iowa. These snakes utilize a wide variety of habitats. They are found in prairies, (including sand prairies), open grassland, fields, pastures, in ditches along cultivated field and roads, woodlands, and some stream valleys and blufflands.

What snakes are illegal in Iowa? ›

(d) A member of the family elapidae, viperidae, crotalidae, atractaspidae, or hydrophidae which are venomous, including but not limited to cobras, mambas, coral snakes, kraits, adders, vipers, rattlesnakes, copperheads, pit vipers, keelbacks, cottonmouths, and sea snakes.

Can a water moccasin bite you underwater? ›

Besides sea-snakes, there are two common snakes that can live in or near water - the cottonmouth (water moccasin) and the water snake. Not only can snakes bite underwater, but water moccasins join a list of more than 20 species of venomous snakes in the United States making them even more of a threat.

What state has the most cottonmouth snakes? ›

Texas: 1. The western cottonmouth is among Texas's many snake species.

What to do if a cottonmouth bites you? ›

Your best bet is to call 911 and try to stay calm. Get away from the snake and, if you can, move your body so the bite is below your heart. Clean the wound and cover it with a clean bandage. Don't put a tourniquet on the bite or try to cut it open and remove the venom.

How many water snakes are in Iowa? ›

Today, you are going to learn about 4 water snakes that live in Iowa. The species below are considered either aquatic or semi-aquatic, which means that it's very likely that you will see them actively swimming or extremely close to water, such as sunning themselves on a bank.

Are there blue racer snakes in Iowa? ›

The Iowa DNR says that the Blue Racer (commonly known as the Eastern Racer) is the fastest of Iowa's 28 snake species, topping out at four miles per hour --- which doesn't sound very fast, but that's nearly six feet PER SECOND. It's also one of the longest snakes in Iowa, ranging from 3-5' in length.

Are milk snakes poisonous? ›

Milk snakes are not poisonous. However, it can be mistaken for a variety of species, including a deadly Agkistrodon and Sistrurus snake, because of its colors. In fact, because of their resemblance to the deadly pygmy rattlers, milk snakes are often killed. They often get confused with the coral snake as well.

Do garter snakes bite? ›

While most species are classified as harmless (non-venomous), their bite can cause minor swelling or itching in humans, and anyone bitten by a garter snake should clean the bite thoroughly. It is not ultimately a cause for concern.

Are western fox snakes poisonous? ›

Like all rat snakes, it is a nonvenomous constrictor. Fox snakes somewhat resemble the appearance of copperheads and rattlesnakes and may shake their tails when threatened, so they are often mistaken for venomous snakes.

Do bull snakes bite humans? ›

Bull snakes pose minimal danger to humans. They are non-venomous and are rarely aggressive. They only strike and bite when threatened, and even then, their bites are non-venomous.

Can you eat a bull snake? ›

The short answer is yes, all snakes in North America are perfectly fine to eat.

What is the most venomous snake in the world? ›

The inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) is considered the most venomous snake in the world with a murine LD 50 value of 0.025 mg/kg SC.

What is the deadliest animal in the state of Iowa? ›

The rattlesnakes that are found in the state of Iowa are some of the most dangerous creatures that you will find out there.

What is the deadliest spider in Iowa? ›

Most types of spiders are harmless and don't pose a huge threat to humans. However, there are two particularly dangerous types of spiders in Iowa: the black widow and the brown recluse. Both of these spiders are known to bite in defense, and their bites have been known to cause serious symptoms.

What animal causes the most deaths in Iowa? ›

Living in Iowa: Deer are the deadliest of all creatures.

Can copperheads swim? ›

But copperheads, like northern water snakes, swim and can be found near water across the region. So, if a snake is not easily identifiable as a non-venomous water snake, it is best to beware. Northern water snakes can grow up to three feet long, and females are larger than males.

What to do if you see a snake while swimming? ›

If you see a snake swimming near you, the best thing you can do is leave it alone, as snakes can bite even while under the surface of the water. Getting medical help should always be the next course of action if a bite happens.

Do copperheads eat fish? ›

Do copperheads eat fish? Yes, actually, they do. Copperheads can swim, and they occasionally get into the water to cool off. While in there, they will not hesitate to feed on fish if they come across some.

Are Iowa bull snakes poisonous? ›

(There are nearly 30 species of snakes in Iowa) It can grow up to a length of eight feet. They are non-venomous and their diet mainly consists of mice, moles, rats, gophers, squirrels, and some birds and lizards. They are even considered 'helpful' because of the large number of crop-destroying rodents that they devour.

Does Iowa have king snakes? ›

They also do not appear to be found deep in heavy woodlands very often. They are mainly found in open grassy or rocky areas in Iowa. They are a common snake in states south of Iowa, and use similar habitats there as well. Speckled kingsnakes have a very similar natural history to prairie kingsnakes.

What venomous animals are in Iowa? ›

Iowa does have four species of venomous snakes: Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis), eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) and timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus).

What snakes are illegal in Iowa? ›

(d) A member of the family elapidae, viperidae, crotalidae, atractaspidae, or hydrophidae which are venomous, including but not limited to cobras, mambas, coral snakes, kraits, adders, vipers, rattlesnakes, copperheads, pit vipers, keelbacks, cottonmouths, and sea snakes.

Will a bull snake eat a rattlesnake? ›

No, bullsnakes do not kill rattlesnakes—they don't hunt them down, and they don't eat them. The sole exception to this is opportunity. For example; a hungry adult bullsnake might eat a newborn, or small, dead, rattlesnake, if given the opportunity.

Do milk snakes live in Iowa? ›

Eastern milk snakes are found almost statewide in Iowa. Rocky hillsides provide the favored habitat in Iowa, at least that is where they are most often seen.

What is a brown snake in Iowa? ›

DeKay's brown snakes are common in Iowa. Description. Harmless to humans. This is a small Iowa species measuring 13 – 18 inches long (Conant and Collins, 1991). The ground color on the back is a varying shade of brown or gray.

What is a black snake in Iowa? ›

Western rat snakes are often called “blacksnakes” by most Iowans. Western rat snakes emerge from their rocky crevice retreats in April or early May. They overwinter with other rat snakes and/or with many other snakes species, most notably timber rattlesnakes, racers, and bullsnakes.

How many snakes live in Iowa? ›

Snakes. There are 27 species of snakes in Iowa.

Is a water moccasin a pit viper? ›

The cottonmouth or water moccasin, Agkistrodon piscivorus, is a semi-aquatic pit viper found throughout the southeastern United States and into east Texas. Cottonmouth snakes are part of the Crotalinae family of pit vipers which includes rattlesnakes and copperheads.

What is the deadliest animal in the state of Iowa? ›

The rattlesnakes that are found in the state of Iowa are some of the most dangerous creatures that you will find out there.

What is the deadliest spider in Iowa? ›

Most types of spiders are harmless and don't pose a huge threat to humans. However, there are two particularly dangerous types of spiders in Iowa: the black widow and the brown recluse. Both of these spiders are known to bite in defense, and their bites have been known to cause serious symptoms.

What animal causes the most deaths in Iowa? ›

Living in Iowa: Deer are the deadliest of all creatures.

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