Many people realize the value of snakes, even if they might not appreciate having them in their home or yard.
Are snakes dangerous?
The majority of Minnesota snakes are harmless. Of the 17 snake species in the state, only two are venomous -- the Timber Rattlesnake and the Eastern Massasauga. Both are found only in the southeastern counties and are rarely encountered. The snake that most often appears in homes and yards is the common garter snake, which is harmless.
If you live within the range of the Timber rattlesnake or Eastern Massasauga, you should be careful when approaching any snake. It is, however, very uncommon for rattlesnakes to be found around human dwellings.
Many harmless species of snake mimic rattlesnakes by vibrating their tails to deter predators!
Identifying a snake
The best way to identify any snake you see is to check a reference book. "Amphibians and Reptiles in Minnesota" by John J. Moriarty and Carol D. Hall is an excellent resource and is available in most libraries.
Keeping a wild snake as a pet
Most snakes in Minnesota are considered unprotected wild animals, except those listed as endangered or threatened, and may be kept for pets if legally obtained or collected (Note - It is often unlawful to collect wildlife on many types of city, county, state, or federal lands without a permit, typically issued only for scientific or educational purposes). Although many snakes are currently unprotected, several species face significant conservation issues. As a result, the DNR discourages the collection of wild-caught snakes for pets. Captive-bred snakes are widely available in pet stores, and often fair better in a captive environment. The Minnesota Herpetological Society can provide you with care information. An alternative to collecting snakes as pets is to enjoy these fascinating creatures in the wild. To learn more, see Snakes and Lizards of Minnesota.
Other reptiles or amphibians in your home or yard
Occasionally, prairie skinks or tiger salamanders get into houses. They enter the same holes in foundations as other animals might and can be controlled using the same techniques discussed here.
In your yard, frogs and toads may be very common at certain times of the year. Turtles often come around in June when they are looking for a nesting site. These animals will normally move on if left alone. They are not dangerous nor do they cause damage.