Snakes of Dayton, OH

Dayton snake

Welcome to! I am David, a snake enthusiast living in Dayton, OH. Many people don't know that Dayton is in fact full of snakes! You just need to know where to find them - they can often be shy and elusive. Some Ohio snake species are more common outside of the city limits, in different parts of Montgomery County OH, but many types of snakes are indeed common in the more urban parts of Dayton. This guide is meant to help educate you about the beautiful snakes of Dayton, and to help you identify the most common snakes of Dayton, as well as the venomous snakes of Dayton that you should learn to recognize and avoid. If you want more detail, click here for my complete list of ALL snake species in Dayton. Remember the following:

  • Most snakes of Dayton are harmless and don't want to encounter you
  • Venomous snakes exist but are uncommon in Dayton, Ohio
  • Snakes eat rats and mice and are a valuable part of the Ohio ecosystem
  • Never kill a snake - if you leave a snake alone, it will leave you alone.

Common Snake Species in Dayton

Dayton snake Common Watersnake: The non-venomous common watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) can grow over 4 ft. in length. Their body coloring can vary from brown and grey to reddish or brown-black. Characteristically, they have dark crossbands near the neck and a blotchy patterning covering the body. Superficially, they are often mistaken for cottonmouths, which are also found near water. The preferred habitat of a common watersnake is near lakes, ponds, marshes, rivers, or canals. Primarily nocturnal, they will bask in the sun during the day. Still, the species is known to hunt in the day, mainly frogs, worms, crayfish, salamanders, and small fish. Meanwhile, once the sun sets, they will focus on catching minnows in shallow water. If approached, they will bite. However, they mostly pose no threat to humans.

Dayton snake Northern Ring-Necked Snake: These tiny snakes grow between 10 to 15 inches. They’re dark black backs hide a colorful underbelly, and of course, the collar of color-ringing their neck. The rings and underbelly can range from bright red to orange and yellow. Despite their colorful appearance, northern ring-necked snakes (Diadophis punctatus) are rarely seen due to their elusive nature. They prefer moist soil, often being found alongside the banks of streams, rivers, and ponds. Or amongst woodland and damp forests. These secretive creatures are shy and non-venomous. They pose no danger to humans and can even be held: as pets not in the wild.

Venomous Snake Species in Dayton

Dayton snake Timber Rattlesnake: This venomous pit viper is endemic across eastern North America. Sometimes known as the canebrake or branded rattlesnake, the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is one of the most northerly distributed venomous snakes. Adults can grow to around 39 to 45 inches in length, with the largest specimen found in Alabama measuring 62.5 inches. Across their back is a black or dark brown banding pattern, although melanism (all black) is common. The venom of a timber rattlesnake is potent. Its fangs are long and its bite powerful. However, they will avoid biting if possible and spend extended periods in dormancy. As such, you’re unlikely to encounter this formidable snake.

Dayton snake Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake: Another small snake found in the north-east, adult eastern massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus) reach up to 2 feet in length. Their bodies are light brown, with chocolate brown blotches along their entire length. You’ll find these small snakes in wet prairies, marshes, and near to running bodies of water, such as rivers. There they hunt mice and voles, before hibernating in crayfish burrows or under logs. Such habitats gave them their name: Massasauga, meaning ‘great river mouth’. Some varieties are venomous; however, they are very timid and pose little threat to people.

Dayton snake Northern Copperhead: The northern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen) is a potentially deadly subspecies of copperheads found in the eastern US. These venomous pit vipers have the unmistakable copper-colored heads, with body banding of chestnut browns. Their heads are broad and flat, with the indentations – heat-sensitive pit organs – used for sensing prey. Their venom is potent, being used to break down the red blood cells (hemolytic) of its prey. However, bites are rarely fatal. Even so, contact with northern copperheads are best avoided. Being carnivores, they prey upon mice, small birds, lizards and will even eat other snakes. They hunt on a ‘bite and release’ strategy, allowing their prey to escape while the venom takes effect. Look for northern copperheads in rocky crevices, oak-hickory hillsides, or amongst abandoned agricultural buildings. They are most active in the late spring and summer. However, in summer, they restrict hunting to the night time.

If you're unsure, you can email me a photo of the snake at and I will email you back with the snake's species. If you found a snake skin, read my Found a Skin? page, and you can email me a photo of the skin, and I'll identify the snake for you. If you need professional Dayton snake removal help, click my Get Help page, or see the below website sponsor I found, who provides that service.

Remember, the term is not poisonous snakes of Dayton, it's venomous snakes of Dayton. Poison is generally something you eat, and venom is injected into you. That said, dangerous snakes are very rare in Dayton. The few venomous snakes of Montgomery County are rarely seen. But they are commonly misidentified, so learn about all the snake species of Dayton in order to correctly identify them. These snakes are usually also found in the surrounding towns of Centerville, Miamisburg, Vandalia, Englewood, Brookville, Trotwood, Moraine, Germantown, West Carrollton, Riverside, New Lebanon, Clayton, Farmersville, Northridge, Phillipsburg, Drexel, Woodbourne-Hyde Park, Fort McKinley, Shiloh, and the surrounding areas.

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