The 5 Most Snake-Infested Lakes In Canada

Written by Chanel Coetzee
Updated: September 26, 2023
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Nearly 1000 shipwrecks are lying under the surface of Lake Huron because of its shallow waters, islands, and severe storms.


Some of the most spectacular lakes in the world call Canada home. In fact, Canada has more lake area coverage than any other country. For example, 563 lakes in the country span over 40 square miles. Furthermore, fresh bodies of water cover eight percent of Canada’s landmass. Therefore, not only do these lakes provide a source of fresh water, but they also bring in a lot of tourism with their recreational activities. However, these lakes also serve an abundance of wildlife, including snakes. So, below is a list of the most snake-infested lakes in Canada.

·        Northern water snakes are the most common species in Canada’s lakes.

©EB Adventure Photography/

Key Points

  • There are three types of watersnakes that occur in Canada’s lakes.
  • Northern water snakes are the most common species in Canada’s lakes.
  • While there are only three species of watersnakes in Canada, several semi-aquatic snakes inhabit areas surrounding lakes.

Water Snakes Found In Canada’s Lakes

Three types of watersnakes occur in Canada, Northern watersnakes, common watersnakes, and the Lake Erie watersnake. However, the most common snake species found in Canada is the Eastern garter snake, which is semi-aquatic. Other semi-aquatic snakes found in Canada include:

Five Most Snake-Infested Lakes in Canada

There are 25 snake species indigenous to Canada. However, only three species are watersnakes, with several others semi-aquatic. Listed below are Canada’s five most snake-infested lakes.

1. Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario

On the eastern side of Lake Ontario is an island with a large northern watersnake population.

Image: Michael J. Eves, Shutterstock

©Michael J. Eves/

On the eastern side of Lake Ontario lies the Thousand Islands National Park, which boasts a series of small islands. One of them is Main Duck Island. This island is notorious for its large northern watersnake population. However, other species of snakes also occupy this island, like rat or milk snakes. While many birds of prey, like hawks, owls, falcons, and herons, occur in Canada, they do not frequent this isolated island. Therefore, the northern watersnake has few predators to worry about, which is why their population numbers are so high. But these aren’t the only aquatic and semi-aquatic snakes on the island; it is also home to the Eastern garter snake and Lake Erie watersnake.

2. Sylvan Lake

 A lighthouse at the shore of Sylvan Lake Community on Alberta, Canada as a symbol of community building. A religious concept of light will reveal anything in darkness.

French settlers in Quebec called Sylvan Lake “Snake Lake.”

Image: Angelito de Jesus, Shutterstock

©Angelito de Jesus/

This lake wasn’t always called Sylvan Lake. When French settlers from Quebec first arrived in 1899 at its shores, they named it Snake Lake because of the many garter snakes in the area. However, many years later, the residents that wanted to promote the area as a resort wished to rename the lake because they thought Snake Lake was frightening and would scare potential tourists away. Therefore, the name was officially changed to Sylvan Lake in 1903. In Latin, Sylvan means “of a forest.”

3. Lake Huron

Lake Heron has a compelling history of shipwrecks, but it is also home to the common watersnake, Eastern fox snake, and Common Ribbonsnake.

©Kibrok Photography/

This lake has the longest shoreline of any of the Great Lakes in North America and is the fifth largest. Furthermore, it is unique and famous for its stunning beaches, wetlands, dunes, forests, and extensive river systems. This large lake has a compelling history, which is made obvious by the numerous shipwrecks. For example, nearly 1000 shipwrecks are lying under the surface of Lake Huron because of its shallow waters, islands, and severe storms. But, this lake is also teaming with wildlife. There are three aquatic and semi-aquatic snakes in this Great Lake, the common watersnake, Eastern fox snake, and Common Ribbonsnake. As a result, this lake is one of the most snake-infested lakes in Canada.

4. Lake Erie

The Marblehead Lighthouse on the edge of Lake Erie in Ohio, USA

Shipwrecks make Lake Erie one of Canada’s best places to dive it also has a large snake population.

©Sara Winter/

This Great Lake separates the Canadian Province of Ontario to the north from four US states, namely Michigan to the west and Pennsylvania and New York to the south and east. Furthermore, since Lake Erie serves as a final resting place for thousands of shipwrecks, it is one of Canada’s best places to dive. Additionally, this massive lake provides an oasis for recreational activities like kayaking, sailing, canoeing, and boating. But, it’s the wildlife around the lake that really steals the show, including the many species of water snakes found in the area, including:

  • Northern water snake
  • Eastern Foxsnake
  • Lake Erie watersnake
  • Eastern garter snake
  • Kirtland’s snake
  • Common watersnake

5. Lake Superior

Snow covered island on Lake Superior during sunset.

Lake Superior is Canada’s large lake and home to the northern watersnake.

Image: JordanSchopper, Shutterstock


One of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world is Lake Superior. In fact, it is so big, it has more water than all the other Great Lakes in North America combined. For example, it has an area of 31698,99 square miles, of which 11100,44 square miles lies in Canada. So, when combined with the portion in the USA, Lake Superior is Canada’s largest lake. Furthermore, it also shares its shores with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. While this lake is massive, it only houses one specie of watersnake, the northern watersnake.

Summary Of The Most Snake-Infested Lakes In Canada

Lake OntarioNorthern water snake, Eastern garter snake, and the Lake Erie water snake  
Sylvan LakeEastern garter snake
Lake HuronCommon watersnake, Eastern foxsnake, and the Common Ribbonsnake
Lake ErieNorthern water snake, Eastern Foxsnake, Lake Erie watersnake, Eastern garter snake, Kirtland’s snake, and the Common watersnake  
Lake SuperiorNorthern water snake

Bonus: Are There Any Venomous Snakes in Canada’s Most Snake-Infested Lakes?

Eastern massasauga, Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus, a minor representative of the rattlesnake

It’s possible you could encounter an eastern Massasauga rattlesnake in Lake Huron or Lake Erie.

©Vladislav T. Jirousek/

Yes, there is one particular venomous snake species that has been found in the Wainfleet Bog on the northeast shores of Lake Erie, as well as the eastern side of Georgian Bay and the Bruce Peninsula of Lake Huron–the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. This threatened species is the only venomous snake you could chance upon in any of the aforementioned lakes.

You need not worry too much about its presence, though. While the Massasauga is a good swimmer, it’s a shy snake that strives to avoid humans. If it sees you, it will likely swim (or slither) away.

The only other venomous snakes found in all of Canada don’t prefer lake habitats. They are the Western Rattlesnake, found in mountainous areas, woodlands, and grasslands in the southwestern tip of Canada, and Prairie Rattlesnakes, which inhabit open prairies, grasslands, desert areas, and forests in south-central Canada.

Other Animals Found Near Lakes In Canada

The lakes in Canada also house other incredible animals. These lakes play a vital role in each of these species’ lives, and they need these bodies of water to survive.

Canada Lynx

The Canada lynx occurs throughout Canada and Alaska, but primarily in:

  • Southern range margin extends into the northern Rock Mountains
  • Western Great Lakes
  • Northeastern regions of the USA

Furthermore, they often occur in the same area as their primary prey, the Snowshoe hare.


The beaver primarily inhabits forested regions throughout Canada and north to treeline. However, they are rare on the prairies. They generally occupy slow-flowing streams, where they can easily build dams from logs, sticks, mud, and debris. In fact, they are the only animals besides humans that can create their own environment. Additionally, these smart critters usually build canals to float logs toward the site where they are constructing the dam.

Beavers are excellent swimmers who can breathe underwater for up to 15 minutes. When startled, they will slap the water with their tails to warn the rest of the colony, who then take refuge under the water. Furthermore, beavers are mainly active at night, as their most productive time is from dusk to dawn. While these critters take refuge in their lodges during the winter, they do not hibernate because they will leave the lodges to fetch food from their submerged stash underneath the frozen surface.


Beavers live around Canadian lakes.


Gray Wolf

The gray wolf was nearly hunted to extinction, but today they currently occupy 80% of their original Canadian range over ten provinces and territories. However, they are extinct in three of Canada’s provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Furthermore, there are four subspecies of gray wolves in Canada; the northern gray wolf is found in the following provinces and territories:

  • Northwest Territories
  • Yukon Territory
  • Alberta
  • Nunavut
  • Saskatchewan
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Quebec
  • Ontario
  • Newfoundland
  • Labrador

Additionally, the arctic wolf inhabits the arctic regions of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The southern wolf inhabits British Columbia, and the eastern wolf is found in the southern regions of Quebec and Ontario.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Elena Elisseeva/

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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

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