The Most Snake-Infested Lakes in Maryland

Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
© Dennis Riabchenko/

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: September 9, 2023

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Maryland has diverse animals that populate its unique environments. The various waterways in the state invite all manner of aquatic and terrestrial creatures to the region. Snakes are commonly seen near the rivers and lakes in the state, and some of them even spend a great deal of time in the water. Discover the most snake-infested lakes in Maryland and find out where these reptiles live as well as which ones pose a threat to people!

What Snakes Live in Maryland?

Eastern Kingsnake

The eastern kingsnake is one of the 27 species of snakes found in Maryland.


Maryland is home to roughly 27 species of snakes. These reptiles can be found throughout the region, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Some of the snakes that live in the state include:

  • Garter snakes
  • Eastern rat snake
  • Northern racers
  • Eastern ribbon snake
  • Northern brown snake
  • Eastern kingsnake

These snakes live in a variety of different environments, including some that are near sources of water. However, two other snakes are particularly interesting because they are venomous. The two venomous snakes in Maryland are the copperhead snake and the timber rattlesnake.

Both snakes can kill humans with their bites, and they should be avoided. Venomous snakes bite up to 8,000 people per year in the United States. Fortunately, only 5 people per year die as a result of envenomation.

People going into the great outdoors need to be aware of these two snakes including how to recognize and behave around them. Simply put, people should never try to handle venomous snakes and give them plenty of space to escape should they encounter one.

Generally, snakebites do not happen when people treat the animals with respect, including not trying to handle them. Rarely, though, bites are nearly unavoidable.

Common Snakes in Maryland’s Waters

Nerodia erythrogaster - Plain-bellied watersnake

Plain-bellied watersnakes are nonvenomous, and they’re found on Maryland’s eastern coast.

©Tyler Albertson/

Some snake species live near bodies of water. However, a few of them spend significant amounts of time in the water and source most of their food in streams, lakes, and rivers. Such reptiles are semi-aquatic snakes, and Maryland is home to three of them.

The three semi-aquatic snakes in Maryland are:

  1. Common watersnake (northern watersnake)
  2. Plain-bellied watersnake
  3. Queen snake

Each of these three snakes is usually found in the waters of Maryland. The common water snake and the plain-bellied watersnake are the most common semi-aquatic snakes in their ranges. However, the queen snake is quite rare overall. Some experts consider copperheads semi-aquatic, but they live in a wide variety of environments. Just be certain to keep an eye out for any snake while swimming or along the coasts of lakes.

The 5 Most Snake-Infested Lakes in Maryland

These are the lakes in Maryland that have the most snakes.

Although many people like to go to the Chesapeake Bay for water recreation, Maryland also has a wide assortment of lakes that people use for recreation. Some of these lakes in Maryland are well-known for having snakes in their region while others are large and remote enough that it only makes sense for them to have plenty of snakes in the area. Learn about some of the snakes that live by each lake and if any of them are dangerous.

5. Lake Hashawha

Greenbrier Lake Maryland

Lake Hashawha is the smallest one on our list.

©Jon Bilous/

Lake Hashawha lies within the Hashawha Environmental Center, with 320 acres of wetlands, trails, and parks. The area also contains the Bear Branch Nature Center nearby where people can learn about the environment in the area.

The lake is not very large, but it has a few snakes nearby including the common watersnake, eastern rat snake, common garter snake, and the eastern copperhead. Although this lake is in the timber rattlesnake range, they are not commonly seen here. Instead, they’re most often found to the west in the state’s mountainous areas.

4. Prettyboy Reservoir

Prettyboy Reservoir in Maryland 1 - Largest Man-Made Lake in Maryland

The Prettyboy Reservoir was apparently named after a



©Jon Bilous/

The Prettyboy Reservoir is a lake with an area of 1,500 acres in northern Maryland. The total Prettyboy Reservoir Cooperative Wildlife Management Area stretches for 7,380 acres. The reservoir provides water for Baltimore, and it has parks and hiking trails along its banks. Both the common watersnake and the queen snake live in and near the lake.

However, they share the range with many other snakes including the rough green snake, eastern milk snake, the gray rat snake, and more. Two dangerous snakes, the timber rattlesnake and the copperhead, are fairly rare in this area.

3. Lake Needwood

Lake Needwood at sunset, at Upper Rock Creek Park in Derwood, Maryland.

The wildlife area surrounding Lake Needwood has had many snake sightings representing various species.

©Jon Bilous/

The Lake Needwood Rock Creek Regional Park is a large natural area where people can take part in fishing, biking, hiking, and more. The lake itself is about 75 acres large, and it is known for catfish, trout, and bass fishing.

Despite its small size, Lake Needwood is well-known for having many snakes including the common water snake, copperhead, North American racer, eastern kingsnake, and gray rat snake.

Although there is plenty to do in this area, people need to look out for the slithering reptiles while they fish.

2. Liberty Reservoir

Liberty Reservoir Maryland

The Liberty Reservoir was formed in the 1950s to act as a water source for the city of Baltimore.


Liberty Reservoir is one of the largest lakes in the entire state. The lake measures 3,100 acres, and it is home to all sorts of wildlife in and around the water. People come to this area to fish, bike, boat, and more. However, they’re not allowed to swim or camp in the region. Some of the snakes that have been spotted in the area around the lake include the copperhead, common watersnake, common garter snake, eastern hognose snake, and De Kay’s brown snake.  

1. Deep Creek Lake

Channel, Deep creek Maryland Lake

The Deep Creek Lake is a massive lake nestled in the far west of Maryland.

©Infinitum Imagery/

Deep Creek Lake is in western Maryland, and the lake alone stretches for 3,900 acres. The lake is popular for recreation like fishing and boating. People come here to catch bass, trout, pike, and walleye. The snakes that you can expect to see near this lake include the queen snake, smooth green snake, eastern hognose snake, common watersnake, timber rattlesnake, and copperhead.

Although the most snake-infested lakes in Maryland have plenty of these reptiles around them, their mere presence isn’t a danger to people. The vast majority of snake encounters are brief and end with the snake fleeing. As long as they have a way out of the encounter and some space, they’ll take it.

Sometimes, humans will tread directly on a snake or near enough that it feels threatened to strike, though. If you are bitten by a venomous snake, it is important to receive medical attention immediately.  

Summary of the Most Snake-Infested Lakes in Maryland

5Lake HashawhaCommon watersnake, queen snake, common garter snake, and copperhead.
4Prettyboy ReservoirCommon watersnake, queen snake, gray rat snake, and eastern milk snake.
3Lake NeedwoodCopperhead, common water snake, gray rat snake, and eastern kingsnake.
2Liberty ReservoirCopperhead, common garter snake, eastern hognose snake, and common watersnake.
1Deep Creek LakeEastern hognose snake, common watersnake, timber rattlesnake, and copperhead.

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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