These Are The 11 Snakes You Cannot Kill In Illinois
We're headed into warmer weather and part of that means we're inevitably going to run into danger noodles and nope ropes in Illinois.
Before you get ready to kill any snake that you encounter in Illinois, beware that there are laws in place on what snakes you can kill. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says that there are 11 snake species in the state that are listed as endangered or threatened. You can't kill those snakes on public land but you may do so if it's on your own land (or on private property where you have permission), according to Wildlife Illinois. Not all of these are poisonous so don't freak out.
This is according to Illinois's Herptiles-Herps Act, which regulates what you can and can't do with snakes and reptiles (including selling them). I will be avoiding all of them.
Iowa has plenty of snakes you can't kill too, and here's how Iowa's DNR defined endangered vs. threatened: if an animal is endangered, it's at risk of going extinct. If an animal is considered threatened, it could become extinct in the foreseeable future. So here are the snakes that the Illinois DNR considers state endangered or state threatened. Two of them-timber rattlesnakes and massasauga rattlesnakes-are under federal protection.
The Endangered Snakes
Great Plains Rat Snake
According to Animalia, the Great Plains Rat Snake will bite, but it's not venomous nor aggressive.
Animalia says that coachwhips aren't poisonous but they are excellent at camouflage and will fit into their surroundings, even if that requires them to have a pink or red color.
It seems odd to have a snake that's native to the southern U.S. in Illinois but there are three types of it, according to the USGS, and they're protected in Illinois. They're not venomous but they will lunge at you if they feel threatened and they'll release a stinky odor, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A federally protected venomous snake you'll find in Illinois- the Massasauga Rattlesnake. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says it's rare for people to be bitten by one though because they're quite shy so just don't tick it off.
The Threatened Snakes
Indiana Herp Atlas says that the Kirtland's Snake is almost found exclusively in the Midwest. According to Michigan Natural Features Inventory, you'll find these snakes mainly wet places, like wet prairies, marshes, etc. They have a red belly and are shy and nocturnal.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign explains Timber Rattlesnakes as being active April through October. Their scientific name is Crotalus horridus, which translates to 'dreadful rattle' in Latin. Accurate. They're active in the counties that border the Mississippi River, according to the Illinois DNR. You know these things. You hear the rattle, slowly back away from it. They'll definitely bite you and inject venom.
Plains Hognosed Snake
These guys aren't venomous, according to the University of Illinois, but they are dramatic little nope ropes. When they're threatened, they'll widen their necks, hiss, maybe strike, then roll onto their backs and act like they're dead.
Mississippi Green Watersnake
Mississippi Green Watersnakes aren't venomous either but like other snakes, they will bite and emit a stinky odor to defend themselves, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
While "flat-headed snake" sounds like a valid moniker for my ex, the reptile mostly mates in April-May, according to the University of Illinois. It's not a threat to humans and won't bite when it's handled, but it does have venom glands to use on it's prey.
Kind of comparable to garter snakes, the Eastern Ribbonsnake lives in watery areas and isn't venomous to humans. The University of Illinois says that they're quick little snakes and eat mostly amphibians.
The Missouri Department of Conservation says this snake isn't venomous either but it, like other snakes on this list, will emit a stinky odor if you tick it off.
If I can help it, I won't even get close enough to any of these danger noodles to tell what they are. Of course, if you're bitten by any of the venomous nightmares, the first thing you need to do is call 911 and get yourself to the ER.