Unlike other states in the U.S., you are less likely to come across snakes in New Hampshire. That’s because there are only 11 snake species that are native to the area, and only one of them is venomous!
The only type of venomous snake in New Hampshire is the Timber Rattlesnake, a critically endangered species typically found in the White Mountains. They are also ambush predators that wait in hiding and attack unsuspecting prey, waiting for their venom to take effect before eating their meal.
Even if you spend a lot of time in New Hampshire, your chances of encountering Timber Rattlesnakes are quite slim because their numbers have dwindled so much that they are now known to be extremely rare. Let’s learn more about these New Hampshire snakes below.
The Timber Rattlesnake
If you’re scared of coming across a venomous snake in New Hampshire, you’re in luck. There is only one venomous snake species in the area, and they are pretty hard to spot because of their decreasing number.
There are so few of them nowadays that they are considered a state-protected endangered species, which means it’s illegal to catch or kill them.
If you do spot a Timber Rattlesnake, simply admire them from afar. These snakes are not afraid to attack if you get too close or feel threatened. Besides, you wouldn’t want to be fined for harming a state-protected species.
Like most venomous snakes, Timber Rattlesnakes have a wide, triangular-shaped head and a narrow neck.
They come in various colors, such as brownish yellow, gray, dark brown, and black, and they have a distinctive rattle at their tails. They also have distinctive crossbands along the length of their bodies, which the snake often uses as camouflage.
Adult Timber Rattlesnakes are large, heavy-bodied snakes that grow up to 60 inches (152 cm) long, although some have been reported to grow up to almost 80 inches (203 cm) long. They are also known for their long fangs that yield a high volume of venom.
These snakes are known to be less aggressive than other venomous snakes and will give plenty of warning signals before attacking. They also tend to back away from larger animals or humans more often than they bite–as long as they don’t perceive any threat.
So if you encounter a Timber Rattlesnake, remember not to make a sharp noise, lurch towards it, or make sudden movements. These actions can be perceived as threatening and will force the snake to strike forward and attack.
Timber Rattlesnakes can be found in thickets, wooded areas near rivers, and deciduous or coniferous forests. Like other snakes, they’re cold-blooded and bask in the sunlight during the day to keep warm and burrow into their dens at night.
These snakes are good climbers and may be found on trees as well.
There are ten non-venomous snakes in New Hampshire. Some can be almost as rare as Timber Rattlesnakes, while others are so common and comfortable around humans that they can be found near houses.
1. Milk Snake
Milk snakes grow only up to 36 inches (91.4 cm) long, and their heads are small and oval-shaped. These snakes are known for their red, white, and black banding.
Although they are non-venomous, they typically mimic the behavior of venomous snakes when threatened, such as shaking their tail end in rattlesnake fashion to shoo away other animals or humans.
They will bite if you provoke them or display intimidating behavior, but it’s nowhere near as harmful as that of a venomous snake.
2. Ribbon Snake
Ribbon Snakes are another small and slender snake species that can grow up to 35 inches (89 cm). At a glance, you would know why they are named Ribbon Snakes–their flat, ribbon-like tails make up one-third of the length of their body.
These snakes are also among the fastest snakes, giving them a huge advantage when hunting prey, but they are non-aggressive. Their habitats are usually near water sources, so their primary diet comprises amphibians and other aquatic creatures.
3. Northern Water Snake
Northern Water Snakes are among the most common snake species in New Hampshire. Like Timber Rattlesnakes, they are quite large and heavy-bodied, growing up to 42 inches (107 cm) long.
Their habitats are near water sources, like rivers, and they hunt cold-blooded animals for food. However, they may stray from their usual diet and hunt small mammals from time to time.
4. Eastern Hognose Snake
Another endangered snake species is the Eastern Hognose Snake. They have thick bodies and grow up to 25 inches (64 cm) long, with unique dorsal scales and an upturned snout resembling a hog–hence their name.
Another unique trait of the Hognose Snake is that they tend to play dead when faced with a predator if their attempts to scare larger animals away fail.
5. Common Garter Snake
Common Garter Snakes are so common they can even be found in healthy numbers in urban areas. Thankfully, they are pretty harmless and typically shy away when they see a human or a larger animal nearby.
These snakes don’t grow long–only up to 26 inches (66 cm)–and are known to have two to three stripes that are yellow, brown, or green.
6. Northern Ringneck Snake
Another common species is the Northern Ringneck Snake. You will know one by its grayish or black body, yellow underbelly, and an orange or golden ring around its neck. They also don’t grow very long, and adults are typically up to 15 inches (38 cm) in length.
The Northern Ringneck is also ideal as a house pet because it is shy, non-aggressive, and low maintenance.
7. Brown Snake
As their name suggests, Brown Snakes are brown and can be either light or dark brown. They also typically have greenish or yellowish crossbands around their tail end and grow up to 14 inches (36 cm) long.
These are also the most widespread snakes in New Hampshire, even in residential areas. Perhaps this is due to their ability to adapt to different kinds of marshy, wooded, or urban habitats.
Brown Snakes are also non-aggressive and will go away when they see a human or a larger animal. However, they can attack when threatened, so it’s best not to touch them.
8. Northern Black Racer
The Northern Black Racer is a critically endangered species that grows up to 60 inches (152 cm) long. This large-bodied snake may fall under the non-venomous category, but it does have venom. However, it is not as potent as those of venomous snakes and can only immobilize prey. It is also not harmful to humans.
9. Smooth Green Snakes
Smooth Green Snakes are exactly as their name suggests: a light green color. They also have a yellow underbelly and grow up to 20 inches (51 cm) long. You will usually find them in the trees, grass, or meadows. These snakes are non-venomous and non-aggressive and will slither away rather than bite an aggressor.
10. Northern Red-Bellied Snake
Northern Red-Bellied Snakes come in orange, brown, or gray and have bright red underbellies. They are also known as fire snakes because of their coloration. They are not venomous or aggressive but try to scare off predators by flicking their tongues when threatened.
Whether you spot the venomous Timber Rattlesnake or any of the non-venomous species in New Hampshire, the best thing to do is to let it be and stay away. Non-venomous snakes may not have lethal poison, but they will still bite when provoked, so always be careful.