When people think of Vermont, snakes aren’t the first things that come to mind. People usually think wintry ski resorts, maple syrup, forests, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Being a rugged, nature-filled area, however, there are a number of snakes in Vermont.
With that said, given how much nature the state has, snakes in Vermont aren’t actually a huge problem. In the entire state, there are only 11 species, and out of that, only a single one is venomous. If you love nature but hate snakes, Vermont could be a great choice for you.
It’s best to be safe rather than sorry, however, so you know what you’re dealing with if you encounter one. Our following article goes over all of the native snakes in Vermont, so you know which are dangerous.
We’ll explain how they look and behave, and what you should do if you cross paths with one!
Snakes in Vermont
There are 11 snake species in Vermont. Luckily, out of those 11, only 1 is venomous. So, if you do happen to encounter a snake, which isn’t likely anyway, you’ll probably be fine. You should always leave wild animals alone, however, for both of your safety.
Venomous Snakes in Vermont
There is thankfully only one species of poisonous snakes in Vermont, which you’re going to want to take care to avoid.
Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
Of all the snakes in Vermont, the Timber Rattlesnake is the only venomous one. Sometimes called the Canebrake Rattlesnake, they can be anywhere from 30 inches long to 60. They’re found throughout the southern areas of Vermont, mainly in forests, thickets, and agricultural areas.
Timber Rattlesnakes come in a variety of colors. They’re most commonly yellow-brown, gray, or nearly black. You can further identify them by the black or dark brown crossbands running down their backs. Being rattlesnakes, they also naturally have rattles on their tails.
They mainly only attack small mammals but will sometimes attack smaller snakes, birds, and frogs. They kill by biting their prey, releasing them, and finally eating them once the poison has taken them down.
Thankfully, they tend to steer clear of humans, but if you do see one back away immediately.
Non Venomous Snakes in Vermont
Here are some of the non poisonous snakes in Vermont. You’re still going to want to leave them alone, but should you happen to encounter one, you have little to worry about.
Eastern Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)
You can actually find the Eastern Rat Snake all across the United States, not only Vermont. You won’t, however, find it any further north than Vermont. These long black snakes are extremely large and can extend past 6 feet. One in Vermont even once reached a jawdropping 72 inches.
You can tell you’re looking at an Eastern Rat Snake thanks to its shiny black scales and lighter colored belly. Its chin and throat will be white.
They tend to congregate in rocky outcroppings and forests. Although snakes tend to avoid humans, if you happen to see one, these are the most likely places. If you do see one, don’t worry. Again, they’re amongst the non venomous snakes in Vermont.
They also consume pests and rodents, so they’re actually a beneficial species to the environment.
Maritime Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis pallidulus)
The next in our list of non poisonous snakes in Vermont is the Maritime Garter Snake. Although not dangerous, they can be pretty long. Some have gotten up to 40 inches!
Unlike some of the other snakes in Vermont, they can be found pretty much anywhere. They’re just as likely to be in urban areas as forests, fields, shorelines, rocks, etc. They do have a tendency to hide under rocks and logs, however, for thermoregulation and self-defense.
Maritime Garter Snakes tend to be black, brown, or dark green. Interestingly, until other garter snakes, they don’t tend to have stripes. They do, however, have yellow bellies, upper jaws, and chins. Some also have a speckled pattern on their backsides.
Unlike most of the snakes in Vermont, they don’t particularly avoid humans, either. Thankfully again, however, they aren’t a threat.
DeKay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi)
DeKay’s Brownsnakes are another of the most interesting snakes in Vermont. You aren’t likely to encounter one as they’re mostly nocturnal and quite shy.
These non venomous snakes in Vermont generally eat earthworms and slugs. They can also go after other small creatures like snails, insects, and tree frogs.
They generally grow to be between 6 and 13 inches. Their color ranges from gray to dark brown. They can also be identified by dark spots on their back arranged in 2 rows. They also have dark streaks on their heads. Some also have a light stripe on their backs.
This species is fairly docile. If a human scares or catches them, they have the ability to release a foul-smelling musk as a self-preservation tactic. So the only danger you’ll be in is smelling bad.
North American Racer Snake (Coluber constrictor)
Another of the most common non venomous snakes in Vermont are North American Racer Snakes. They’re also sometimes referred to as Northern Black Racer Snakes.
As with many snakes in Vermont, you’re not likely to find them out and about. They’re usually in forests, hiding under leaves.
They keep to themselves and don’t tend to go anywhere near humans. In fact, if they see you, they’re most likely to speed away. That’s what their name comes from. Being non venomous, they don’t engage in fights. Their self-preservation tactic is the ability to run.
North American Racer Snakes are black and glossy, and very skinny and long. They can grow to over six feet! As with all snakes, it’s best to avoid if you see one. In this case, however, they’ll probably dash away before you can!
Eastern Hog-Nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
Eastern Hog-Nosed Snakes certainly aren’t common snakes in Vermont. They have, however, been found there on numerous, though admittedly rare occasions. In the interest of being comprehensive, however, we thought we should cover them as well.
These non poisonous snakes in Vermont range widely in color. Options are orange, black, brown, olive, and gray. Additionally, sometimes they have darker spots or blotches running down their bodies. This isn’t, however, always the case. They’re often solidly colored.
They also have heads shaped like triangles, thick bodies, and upturned noses or snouts. That’s where “hog-nosed” in their name comes from. Their main prey are toads. Their snouts are shaped that way to help dig them up.
They may hiss or act threateningly when under attack, but humans have nothing to worry from them.
Smooth Green Snake (Opheodrys vernalis)
Smooth Green Snakes are named due to the fact they are bright green. Sometimes referred to as Grass Snakes, they tend to gravitate towards green, moist spots near water. You might find them by streams, lakes, and marshes. They might also be in meadows and pastures.
Although, as mentioned, they’re usually green, they have lighter undersides, usually white or yellow. Before the first time a Smooth Green Snake sheds its skin, it also might be a slightly different color. This could be blue-gray, olive-green, or brown.
Smooth Green Snakes are very skinny and usually run between 14 and 20 inches long. They mainly eat spiders and insects, swallowing them whole rather than constricting.
They tend to avoid humans, slithering away quite quickly if they feel threatened. If you happen to see one, it’ll most likely be between April and October.
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Eastern Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum)
Eastern Milksnakes’ unusual name comes from a longstanding myth. Often found in barns, folklore had it that these snakes milked cows! In actuality, they aren’t there for the milk but for the prevalence of mice in barns. The name, however, stuck.
These non venomous snakes in Vermont have gray or tan scales, with 3-5 rows of dark-colored blotches on their backs. They will also have a lighter-colored V or Y-shaped mark at the back of their heads. They are generally somewhere between 24 and 36 inches long.
You aren’t likely to encounter an Eastern Milksnake as they tend to stay underground, or beneath rocks or logs.
Being non venomous, they’re not dangerous to humans, but fascinatingly their blood actually has venom-neutralizing properties. This allows to go after poisonous snakes as prey!
Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis saurita)
There are many snakes in Vermont that we as humans don’t have to worry about. Another is the Eastern Ribbon Snake, which is known for being skinny and having a long tail. They’re dark-colored with three bright stripes running down their lengths.
Meanwhile, the tops of their heads and snouts are brown, the lower part of their heads white. As far as length, they tend to be between 18 and 26 inches long. These snakes in Vermont are semi-aquatic so you’re most likely to find them in or near water.
They tend to eat amphibians and fish and are of no danger to humans. In fact, they’re most likely to run away from a person. However, if cornered, they might aggressively defecate or spray musk. So if you can avoid getting close to one, it’s probably for the best!
Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis pallidulus)
Eastern Garter Snakes in Vermont can be found in the western and southern areas of the state. They’re also the most prevalent of the snakes in Vermont. Spotting them isn’t a particularly rare occurrence.
Their length is generally between 18 and 26 inches. They come in a wide range of colors but usually a mixture of black, brown, or green. They will also have a distinct white or yellow stripe running down their back. Some of them also have a checkered pattern.
You’ll find them on lawns, in gardens and parks, in cemeteries, and so on and so forth. They like the grass and water. Also be aware that when they feel threatened, they might bite. They aren’t venomous but it isn’t pleasant, so do your best to stay away!
Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon)
The last of the snakes in Vermont is the Northern Watersnake. These non poisonous snakes in Vermont are the largest water-based snake species in the state. They can grow to a whopping 55 inches, and you’ll often see them basking on rocks near water.
The Northern Watersnake’s color ranges from grey to dark brown, and it has dark bands around its body. As they age, the adults get even darker to the point that the bands may become barely visible.
These snakes mostly eat amphibians and fish. Rather than constricting, they attack their prey quickly and swallow them alive.
They generally leave people alone, but they can bite…painfully. Further, their saliva has a mild anticoagulant. Their bites therefore leave rather bloody injuries. They aren’t as bad as they look, but you definitely don’t want that! So avoid these snakes whenever possible.
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What to do if you encounter a snake in Vermont?
If you come across one of the snakes in Vermont while camping or hiking, first of all, don’t panic. That will just make the situation worse. Next, assess. You probably won’t have time to ascertain if the snake is dangerous or not. So just back away as soon as possible.
Of course, it’s always safest to get out of the situation. It’s always possible you didn’t identify the snake correctly due to fear or adrenaline.
If you or someone else is bitten by one of the snakes in Vermont, call an ambulance immediately. If possible, photograph the snake on your phone. That way, the EMTs will know what they’re dealing with when they arrive and whether it’s venomous.
If you’re bitten, limit your movements. When you move, it causes the blood to flow, which will make the poison spread through your system faster.
Luckily, there aren’t many venomous snakes in Vermont. Only one of the species is deadly to humans, and you aren’t likely to encounter it. Just to be safe, however, you should be aware of the snakes in Vermont. If you are bitten, call 911, and snap a shot of the snake to help identify!