What snakes are actually hazardous in Indiana?

There are four species of venomous snake native to Indiana and vicinity that actually pose a threat to persons who are bitten. They are all "pit vipers" of the subfamily Crotalinae, and have heat-sensing structures in pits on the front of their faces.

Eastern Massasauga

Northern Copperhead

Timber Rattlesnake

Western Cottonmouth

Because there are so few venomous snakes in Indiana, we can impose some simple rules to help you to identify them. These rules will not work outside of this state or with exotic species.First of all, no snakes in Indiana or nearby with stripes running down their bodies are venomous. As mentioned above, all of our dangerous snakes have pits in addtion to nostrils on their faces. The pupils of our venomous snakes are vertical slits rather than round. Indiana's venomous snakes are all very heavy-bodied: they look "fat." They also have broad, spade-shaped heads that are distinctly wider than their narrow necks. The heads of nonvenomous snakes are typically about the same width as their bodies. Such distinctions are not completely reliable, as some species such as water snakes can be rather stout, and many species of snakes will flatten their heads when bluffing, giving the head a spade-like shape as well