Discover The Deadliest Animals In Minnesota

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: October 4, 2022
© Volodymyr Burdiak/
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Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, but it also has prairies, forests, and farmland. The Mississippi begins in Itasca State Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a popular destination in the Superior National Forest. Whether it is a hot summer or frigid winter, people in Minnesota love to get out and enjoy the hiking, camping, and fishing in the beautiful outdoors. With a variety of habitats, what are the variety of animals that could be dangerous in Minnesota? Are there any venomous or poisonous animals? The Timberwolves are the state’s basketball team name, but are there wolves in Minnesota? Minnesota is the number one producer of turkeys, but are these giant birds dangerous or just delicious? With 10,000 lakes, what dangerous animals live in the waters, are there really 100lb fish? Let’s find out about the deadliest animals in Minnesota!

Are there any Poisonous or Venomous Animals in Minnesota?

Deadliest animals in Minnesota - although venomous timber rattlesnakes only strike when they are threatened or disturbed
Timber Rattlesnakes are extremely venomous, but they are not typically aggressive.


With the harsh winters, some of the common venomous animals like scorpions and brown recluse spiders do not live in Minnesota, but there are some hardy snakes that live in the southern corner of the state.

  • Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake: These are very rare in Minnesota with only a few reliable sightings, and there is not a breeding population in Minnesota. Massasaugas are 2 to 2.5 feet long and are grayish-brown with faint markings. They do have a rattle at the end of their tail to warn off predators and they are venomous, but they rarely interact with humans.
  • Timber Rattlesnake: Timber rattlers are much bigger than massasauga’s both in length and thickness. Timber’s can get to be four feet long and are a large snake. They have the same triangular head as most pit vipers and a rattle on the end of their tail. They prefer to be left alone as well and will give fair warning before striking. They are also pretty rare in Minnesota, being located in a handful of counties in the southeastern part of the state. In the US there are a reported 7,000 to 8,000 people bitten by venomous snakes each year but only five of those are fatal. In Minnesota there are only one or two venomous snake bites every five years, so exceedingly rare.

Are there any Wolves in Minnesota?

Deadliest animals in Minnesota - although wolves can be dangeorus, attacks in the state are rare
Minnesota has the largest population of timber wolves in the lower 48.

©Volodymyr Burdiak/

Besides the basketball players, are there any timber wolves in the state? Yes! In fact, Minnesota is one of the few states that still has timber wolves and it has the largest population in the lower 48 states. The wolf is on the endangered species list and is considered “Threatened” in Minnesota. The 1,200 estimated wolves that do live in Minnesota live in the northern part of the state amongst some of the densest forests, so the chances of encountering one is rare.

Wolves have thick grey fur and are the size of a large dog, weighing between 90 and 140lbs with most closer to 100lbs. Wolves can be dangerous, but are not more dangerous than domestic dogs when it comes to number of attacks. There was one fatality caused by a wolf in Minnesota but it was wolf someone was keeping as a pet. A 3-year-old girl was killed while visiting her father’s home in Forest Lake, MN when she wandered into the back yard where the wolf was tied up. The wolf attacked her and she later died at the hospital.

Domestic dogs can also be very dangerous and deadly. In 2019 insurance groups had 370 dog bites reported in Minnesota, with some leaving severe injuries. Being extra cautious when dogs and kids are in the picture can help prevent some of these unnecessary and tragic incidents.

Are Turkeys a Dangerous Animal?

Types of Big Birds
Minnesota produces 45 million turkeys every year!


45 million turkeys! What?! That’s right, that is how many turkeys Minnesota farmers produce each year. That seems to work out just about right to the number of turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving which, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture is 46 million (the second place state, North Carolina, produces 9 million so we got Thanksgiving covered.)

Farm animals can be dangerous, but horses and cattle are responsible for the most animal related farm injuries. Farm raised turkeys are not particularly aggressive but they can carry diseases. A rare disease that can be passed on from turkeys through the air, by breathing in the fecal matter that dries and mixes with the air, is Psittacosis. Workers and farmers need to follow specific protocol for keeping living quarters and butchering facilities clean. Minnesota also has wild turkeys and many people help keep the number of turkeys in-check by hunting them during hunting season which is from mid-April to the end of May.

What Animals are Dangerous in Minnesota Lakes?

man holding sturgeon fish
Despite reaching six feet long, lake sturgeon are not particularly dangerous.

©Fabien Monteil/

Fishing is a popular activity in Minnesota and with 10,000+ lakes, the Mississippi River and shoreline along Lake Superior there are plenty of places to enjoy the water. Boating, kayaking, canoeing and swimming are also popular summer activities. So if you want to spend the day swimming in one of the Minnesota lakes or rivers are there any dangerous animals (or fish) to be aware of?

Sun fish (or sunnies as they are called) may give you a nibble while splashing around at the cabin but they are only the size of your hand. Lake sturgeon on the other hand can grow to be 100lbs or more! Sturgeon can grow to be six feet long and weigh as much as 150lbs. Compare that to a shark, like the common sandbar shark which can also get to be six feet long and weigh 150lbs. Sharks are marine animals (except for the bull shark which can adapt to filter freshwater for a period of time) so they would not survive in Minnesota lakes but giant sturgeon do. However, one of the big differences between a shark and a sturgeon, and its an important one, sturgeon don’t have teeth! So, they’re not particularly dangerous.

The largest sturgeon ever caught in Minnesota was caught during ice fishing season on the St. Croix River by Darren Troseth. The giant sturgeon was 120lbs and 78 inches long (nearly 6 ½ feet). And this wasn’t just another fish tale, the catch was videotaped and the measurements were confirmed by the DNR. The sturgeon was released as there are strict regulations to protect the sturgeon populations as it is listed as a Species of Special Concern in Minnesota.

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Timber wolf on rock
Timber wolf hunting in mountain.
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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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