Maryland has a wide variety of snakes that inhabit the state but only two of them are venomous. That means that people who love the outdoors can enjoy all the hiking, fishing, swimming, camping, and outdoor activities that Maryland has to offer without being too concerned about the possibility of running into venomous snakes. The hot and humid summers are when snakes are in Maryland are the most active.
Because Maryland’s winters are primarily cold and dry that’s when most of the snakes that live in Maryland go dormant. From the forests to the grasslands and the many rivers, lakes, and waterways that make up the geography of Maryland there are snakes in all parts of the state. These are the poisonous snakes in Maryland that you’re most likely to see when you’re outdoors:
The Most Common Snakes In Maryland
While most of the attention on snakes focuses on venomous species, the truth is that the most common snakes in Maryland are not poisonous. These snakes are generally helpful as they eliminate rodents and other pests. Here are a few of the more common poisonous snakes in Maryland.
Garter snakes are very common throughout the state, so if you see a snake when you’re in Maryland it’s probably going to be a garter snake. They can be black, dark green, or any shade of brown with a yellow or a white stripe running down the length of the snake’s back.
These snakes are not large and usually don’t get to be longer than about two feet. Garter snakes are often found in backyards, especially rural or wooded backyards, so teach your kids what a garter snake looks like if you are worried that snakes might be in your back yard.
There are a lot of garter snakes in Howard, Frederick, Baltimore, and Anne Arundel counties.
Rat snakes are one of the largest types of snakes that you’ll find in Maryland. Typically rat snakes are black with white markings. These snakes can be more than 80 inches long. That’s almost seven feet long! But, you don’t need to be afraid of the rat snake even though its size can be intimidating. These snakes are not venomous and usually they’re not very aggressive.
Rat snakes are helpful snakes because they feed primarily on rodents like rats and mice. They prefer the types of habitats where rodents live, primarily mountain territory or flat grasslands. These are poisonous snakes in Maryland common to see throughout the state.
Northern Brown Snake
The northern brown snake is the opposite of the rat snake. It’s the smallest type of snake that you’ll see in Maryland. As the name suggests the northern brown snake is brown and it has black or reddish spots all the way down the back. They are nocturnal so you will really only see them if you are camping, or if you are hunting or hiking before dawn.
There are a lot of poisonous snakes in Maryland but because they tend to avoid people. However, if you do surprise one it may flatten itself down on the ground trying to look larger and more threatening than it is. They also may bite. Northern brown snakes are not venomous and unless you surprise one by coming near its den they won’t bother people.
The northern racer is another very large type of snake, although it’s not as big as the rat snake. Generally, Northern Racer snakes don’t grow longer than 60 inches. These snakes are black or dark brown and tend to stick to areas where they can camouflage themselves easily like wooded areas and rocky areas. Northern Racers are exceptionally fast.
If you see one and blink it will be out of range before you’re done blinking. If you do see a northern racer while you’re out enjoying the outdoors in Maryland you most likely won’t see it for long.
The ring-necked snake has a very distinctive appearance. They’re only about a foot long but they have either cream or yellow ring marking around their necks, which is where they got their name. Ring-necked snakes love to be in damp, dark, moist places so you will mostly find them in the northern counties near the border with Pennsylvania and also along the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
You may also find some in urban areas or suburban areas in brush piles, rotting tree stumps, mulch piles and landscaping, and basements. If you do find these little snakes in your yard or basement don’t worry, they are not venomous.
Venomous (Poisonous) Snakes In Maryland
Maryland only has two types of venomous snakes, which is something that makes outdoor enthusiasts very happy. Whenever you are hiking in an area where venomous snakes are known to live one way that you can stay safe is to stay on the dedicated hiking trails. Choose a wide well-traveled trail to hike on and don’t make your own paths. Snakes will usually stick to the brush and stay far away from man-made trails where people tend to be.
If you are out hunting, hiking, or taking your kids out in the woods and you come across a snake don’t panic. Move very slowly and back up, never approach the snake. If you can you should wait for the snake to move away before walking away.
If you can’t wait then continue to back up and away from the snake. It also is a good idea to know what types of snakes live in the area where you are going to be. The two types of venomous snakes in Maryland that you need to watch out for are:
Eastern copperheads have a very unique color pattern which will help you recognize one when you see it. Their heads are a brown copper color and their bodies may be mottled brown and black or shades of brown and white. They’re not very large and only get to be about 40 inches long. The eastern copperhead is active during the day for most of the year but when the hot and humid summer comes they are mostly nocturnal. If you’re camping in Maryland in the summer be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for these snakes.
Timber Rattlesnakes are mostly forest dwellers that prefer dark deciduous forests and grassy areas near deciduous forests. These rattlesnakes can have dark coloring or a light gray coloring with black markings. Timber rattlesnakes are not very long and typically are around 50 inches long, although they can grow up to 60 inches long. Like most rattlesnakes, they have a wide heavy body and a loud tail rattle. Timber rattlers typically won’t attack unless they feel cornered or threatened. However, if you surprise one in the forest while you’re hiking it may strike out because you surprised it. Tread lightly as you go through forests and stay on the hiking paths. Avoid any fallen trees, hollowed-out stumps, or piles of leaves and vegetation because there may be a timber rattlesnake hiking in there. If bitten by a timber rattlesnake, its very important to seek immediate medical attention.
The Complete List Of Snakes You Will Find In Maryland
If you’re planning on visiting Maryland or if you live there and spend a lot of time outdoors luckily the snakes in Maryland are overall pretty harmless. The full list of snakes in Maryland is:
- Common Garter snake
- Common Water snake
- Dekay’s Brown snake
- Eastern Copperhead
- Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
- Milk snake
- Eastern Rat snake
- Eastern Ribbon snake
- North American Racer
- Northern Ring-necked Snake
- Southern Ring-necked Snake
- Timber Rattlesnake
- Coastal Plain Milk snake
- Common Worm snake
- Eastern King snake
- Eastern Pine snake
- Mountain Earth snake
- Northern Mole King snake
- Plain-bellied Water snake
- Queen snake
- Rainbow Snake
- Red Corn snake
- Red-bellied Snake
- Rough Green snake
- Scarlet Snake
- Smooth Earth snake
- Smooth Green snake
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