Can you identify Michigan's only venomous snake? - WNEM TV 5

Can you identify Michigan's only venomous snake?

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Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
MICHIGAN, (WNEM) -

It’s the time of year when all that crawls and creeps comes out of hiding, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding Michiganders when it comes to snakes, just leave them be.

The Mitten is home to eighteen different species of snakes, but only one of them poses any real harm to humans.

The eastern massasauga rattlesnake is the only venomous species found in Michigan. It is rarely seen and is listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service due to declining population and habitat loss.

The massasauga does have a segmented rattle on its tail but is likely to let people pass without revealing itself if it doesn’t feel threatened.

“The massasauga rattlesnake tends to be a very shy snake that will avoid humans whenever possible,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife communications coordinator for the DNR. “They spend the vast majority of their time in wetlands hunting for mice and aren’t often encountered.” 

There are other, harmless species of snakes in Michigan that do not have segmented rattles but will buzz their tails if approached or handled.

Click here for a slideshow of Michigan's snakes

Rattlesnake bites, although extremely rare in Michigan do happen. For more on identifying a massasauga, click here.

Another snake that tends to cause quite a stir is the eastern hog-nosed snake.

While harmless, when it is threatened, the hognose will puff up with air, flatten its neck and bodies and hiss loudly.

This has led to local names like “puff adder” or “hissing viper”.

If that show doesn’t frighten away the intruder, the hognose will excrete a foul-smelling musk and then turn over and play dead.

Michigan snakes do not attack, chase or lunge at people.

If you spot a snake, stay at least 3 feet away from the head to avoid getting bit.

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