If you plan on exploring the great outdoors (walking, hiking or camping), you should expect to find highly venomous snakes. The U.S. is home to the rattlesnake, which is one of the world’s deadliest snake families. There are 36 species in total, and around 65-70 subspecies.
Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico are home to a large variety of rattlesnake species. Rattlesnakes can be found in woodlands, plains, deserts, foothills, and marshes. You won’t find any rattlesnakes in Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, and Rhode Island.
It’s common for rattlesnakes to be mistaken for gopher snakes, so you need to be able to tell them apart. Rattlesnakes are native to the Americas, everywhere from southern Canada to Argentina. Some states only have 1 or 2 rattlesnake species, but others have 10 or more species.
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Ideal Rattlesnake Habitat
Because their range is so large, rattlers have diverse habitats. There is no single ‘ideal habitat’ for rattlesnakes, but there are ideal habitats for each species. Timber rattlesnakes like wooded areas, Prairie rattlesnakes like low foothills, and Mojave rattlesnakes like warm, dry conditions.
During the winter, when it gets cold, rattlesnakes will brumate. This is like hibernation, where they stop moving and eating. Rock dens make ideal places to shelter for the winter.
Where the winter is so harsh that the ground freezes over and they can’t burrow in order to find shelter, rattlesnakes will die. This means rattlers can’t live further north than southern Canada.
Where Are Rattlesnakes Found in America?
Rattlesnakes can be found in almost every U.S. state. However, the rattlesnake that you find in Alabama is likely to be a different species to the one you would find in California.
Eastern diamondbacks can be found in the southernmost part of Alabama. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find rattlesnakes further north, too.
Timber rattlesnakes are common throughout the state, apart from the southern coastal plain. They live in every part of the state, including in and around Birmingham and Montgomery. They thrive in forested areas.
Another common snake is the pygmy rattlesnake, which only grows to two feet long. These live all across the state, with the Tennessee River as a rough northern border for their range.
You used to find eastern massasaugas in Alabama, but they are much less common than they used to be.
Alaska isn’t ideal rattlesnake terrain. The state is too far north for them to survive the bitterly cold winters, because the ground freezes over. Any snake that got this far north would freeze to death during the winter.
Arizona is home to more rattlesnake species than any other U.S. state. Some of these species are spread across the whole west coast. Others are almost unique to Arizona.
Why are there so many rattlesnakes in Arizona? It’s because of the state’s unique habitats. From the Mojave Desert in the west, to the 210 mountain ranges, the state has somewhere for almost every species to live.
Western diamondback rattlesnakes can be found in the whole southern half of the state. They are common to the whole southwest. In the Gila River Indian Reservation and the Tohono O’Odham Nation Reservation, west of Tuscon and south of Phoenix, you’ll also find Tiger rattlesnakes.
Sidewinder rattlesnakes live here too, but not in the northern or eastern halves of the state. They can only be found in the southeast corner, along with rock rattlesnakes, desert massasaugas, ridge-nosed rattlesnakes, and twin-spotted rattlesnakes. These snakes are widespread in Mexico with small populations here.
Speckled rattlesnakes live in the western half of the state, especially around the Colorado River. Then, in the northeast corner of the state from Flagstaff to the Hopi Reservation and Navajo Nation, you’ll find the Prairie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis.
There’s also the Arizona black rattlesnake. This snake lives in the center of the state, south of the Colorado River and its main tributaries. These snakes are a dark, dusky black with lighter stripes. Here too you’ll find the Grand Canyon rattlesnake, which lives in the Grand Canyon.
In the same area, you’ll also find Mojave rattlesnakes, which range from the Grand Canyon south and west.
One of the more widespread species is the black-tailed rattlesnake. This species can be found almost across the entire state. The only area that doesn’t have a significant population in the north-eastern quarter of the state, in the Hopi Reservation.
Timber rattlesnakes live in every part of Arkansas. You can find them around significant population centers, or out in the country. You’ll also get western diamondback rattlesnake in western-central areas.
Aside from that, there are pygmy rattlesnakes. These rattlers can only reach two feet long, so you may mistake them for juveniles of other species. They live everywhere in the state apart from along the Mississippi.
You’ll find the western diamondback rattlesnake in the southernmost counties of the state.
Sidewinder rattlesnakes live in this southern corner too. But they’re more widespread than the western diamondback, and can be identified by the unique way they move. Another snake across the whole southern half of the state is the speckled rattlesnake.
In roughly the same area is the Mojave rattlesnake. This snake has the most potent venom of all rattlesnakes. Only part of its range extends to California, in the area around the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park, i.e., part of the Mojave Desert.
Another species in the south is Crotalus ruber, the red diamond rattlesnake. This species lives throughout Baja California, but is also found near the California-Mexico border. Its range extends from San Diego to the Salton Sea.
In the northern half of the state, you have different species of rattlesnake entirely. The most common is the Western rattlesnake subspecies, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake. These snakes live all along the coast, as well as inland. However, they avoid the arid Mojave Desert in the south.
Here’ some further info on the venomous snakes found in California.
There are only three rattlesnake species in Colorado. The first is the Western rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus, which lives in the western quarter of the state. You can find them around Grand Junction, east into the Grand Mesa National Forest, and north towards Dinosaur National Monument.
They also extend down into the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. But you won’t find them anywhere near Denver or Colorado Springs.
The second is the desert massasauga. This snake is endangered, and has only a limited habitat. They live in a small pocket of land south of Pueblo, towards La Junta, and the south-east corner of the state. You’re unlikely to find many because of their limited numbers.
The third is the prairie rattlesnake. These are sometimes called ‘western rattlesnakes’ too, but they’re a different species, Crotalus viridis. These snakes do live in the eastern half of the state, and around the main cities.
They also live all along the northern and southern borders, but not in the mountains.
Timber rattlesnakes were once widespread in Connecticut, even in colonial times. Local place names are a dead giveaway, like Rattlesnake Mountain, along the Metacomet Trail.
Today’s populations are much smaller than they once were, in the center and west of the state. They’re only found in around ten towns. That’s in part because colonial records indicate that many towns had bounties on them.
Delaware used to be home to a thriving population of timber rattlesnakes. However, it’s thought that the snakes here have since died out. You’re unlikely to encounter any.
Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes live throughout the state, from the Everglades to the Panhandle. Similarly, you can find pygmy rattlesnakes in every corner of the state, too.
A snake with a smaller range in Florida is the timber rattlesnake. These snakes only live in the far north of the state, in the area between Tallahassee and Jacksonville. They prefer to live in wooded areas.
There are lots of rattlers in Florida, and dangerous snakes generally, but only six species.
Timber rattlesnakes live throughout Georgia, barring Grady and Thomas counties, as well as Early, Calhoun and Clay counties. Apart from that, they’re very common in the state, including the area around Atlanta.
Another common snake here is the pygmy rattlesnake, Again, their range extends to almost every part of Georgia, except for the area around/north of Atlanta. These snakes aren’t as common as timber rattlers, though.
There are no native snakes in Hawaii, so there are no rattlesnakes there. The only snakes in Hawaii have been introduced by people.
Idaho isn’t home to many species, unlike states further south. But one species you will find here is the Western rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus. They live all across the southern half of the state, from Nampa in the west to Idaho Falls in the east.
You’ll also find them further west and north, up through Payette National Forest and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, too.
There are two subspecies of the Western rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus in the state. These are the Great Basin rattlesnake and the Northern Pacific rattlesnake.
In the center of the state, you’ll also come across some prairie rattlesnakes, Crotalus viridis. Confusingly, these snakes are sometimes called Western rattlesnakes too, but they’re considered to be a different species.
These snakes live around Salmon-Challis National Forest, out towards Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Montana.
There are still quite a few timber rattlesnakes in Illinois, even though their range has been decreasing. They inhabit almost all of the southern half of the state, and the west, all along the Mississippi. They live in the center of the state from Springfield to Peoria.
Illinois is also home to the eastern massasauga. The snake can be found across all but the southern third of the state.
The main rattlesnake species you’ll find in Indiana is the timber rattlesnake. These snakes live in the southern quarter of the state, from Louisville, KY to just south of Indianapolis.
In the rest of the state, if you encounter a rattlesnake, it’s likely an eastern massasauga. These live where the timber rattlesnake doesn’t live. You used to find them in every corner of the state from Bloomington north.
Snakes are limited to a few northern counties. Indiana doesn’t have many rattlesnakes.
You can find timber rattlesnakes in Iowa, especially in the southern and eastern halves of the state. You can certainly find them in wooded areas south of Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.
Less common are prairie rattlesnakes. Iowa is the easternmost extent of their range. You can only find them in the Loess Hills north of Mondamin. Because this is the furthest east you’ll find them, prairie rattlesnakes are very rare here. You’d be lucky to find any.
It’s a similar story for western massasaugas. They inhabit the southwest corner of the state, south of Omaha and west of the I-35. But their numbers and their range are shrinking. Given that Iowa is the furthest north you’ll find these snakes, they’ll likely disappear soon.
There may also be some eastern massasaugas along the border with Wisconsin and Illinois. Here, it’s the same story but in reverse. Iowa is the furthest west that these snakes live. So, again, their numbers are declining.
Timber rattlesnakes live in the region around Kansas City and Topeka. But they aren’t usually found near Wichita.
The western massasauga’s range extends around all three cities. You could find them in almost all of the state’s eastern half. However, their numbers are much reduced. You’re more likely to find other rattlesnake species.
Further west, you’ll find prairie rattlesnakes. These are common out west past Hays and Great Bend.
Timber rattlesnakes live all across Kentucky, from east to west. However, you won’t find them in the area around Frankfort, at least not anymore. Their range has been gradually shrinking. But you can still find them in and around Louisville.
The first rattler you might find is the eastern diamondback. These live in the eastern tip around New Orleans.
Timber rattlesnakes live in Louisiana, too. They inhabit all of the northern half of the state, as well as much of the southeast. But they don’t live in the southwest, and avoid much of the Mississippi River Delta.
One snake that doesn’t is the pygmy rattlesnake. The snakes live all along the Delta, up the border with Texas, and along the border with Arkansas. The only place you won’t find any is from Baton Rouge, north, and along the border with Mississippi.
There used to be timber rattlesnakes in Maine, as there were across most of the northeast. But there have been no verified sightings since the early 1900s. And as there are no other rattlesnake species this far north, there are no rattlesnakes in Maine.
It’s likely that there are timber rattlesnakes in Maryland. However, they are infrequently encountered, and it’s unclear how many there are. If there are any, you’ll find them in undisturbed woodland in the west of the state.
Aside from that, there are no rattlesnake species in Maryland.
Massachusetts was once home to many timber rattlesnakes. The species moved further north after the last Ice Age, when the glaciers retreated. They survived by learning to brumate, i.e. go into a hibernation-like period through the winter.
Populations of timber rattlesnakes in Massachusetts—and all New England states—are much lower now. Human encroachment on their habitat has killed most of them off. There are still be isolated pockets in Massachusetts, especially in the center of the state.
There used to be a population south of Boston. However, according to the IUCN, this population may have been extirpated (wiped out).
According to the Michigan DNR, the only venomous snake in the state is the eastern massasauga. These snakes used to be widespread across the state, but records show that they have become much rarer.
That’s mainly because of their unique habitat requirements. Other rattlesnake species live in harsh deserts, or woodland full of potential predators. Eastern massasaugas prefer swamps, and there are fewer places left for them.
Timber rattlesnakes live in the southeastern tip of the state, south of Minneapolis. However, they’re rarely encountered, and their range is shrinking. Aside from that, Minnesota is entirely rattlesnake free.
The most common rattlers in Mississippi are eastern diamondbacks. These live throughout the state. With roughly the same distribution are pygmy rattlesnakes, although these aren’t as common. They also don’t live along the Mississippi, along the border with Louisiana.
You also have timber rattlesnakes throughout Mississippi. You can find them from Tupelo to Greenville, and down to Jackson. However, they aren’t as common in the coastal plain near the Gulf or around Hattiesburg.
You can find timber rattlesnakes throughout Missouri, apart from Worth, Gentry, and Harrison counties. And along the border with Kansas, you may spot some western massasaugas. There’s also an isolated population north of Columbia.
Unfortunately, the western massasauga isn’t as common as it once was. The same applies to pygmy rattlesnakes. Missouri is the furthest north that you’ll find them, around Springfield and Mark Twain National Forest.
The only venomous rattlesnakes in Montana—and the only venomous snakes here, period—are prairie rattlesnakes. This species is common throughout the Midwest, and its range spans from Canada to Mexico.
The only place they aren’t so common is in the Kootenai National Forest, down to the Lolo National Forest. Prairie rattlesnakes prefer the foothills to the woods. There also aren’t so many at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in the northeast.
Aside from that, you can find them in almost every county in the state. They’re common out in the country around many of Montana’s largest towns and cities. That includes Billings and Bozeman. But you won’t find many near Great Falls or Missoula.
Timber rattlesnakes live in the southeastern tip of the state, not far from Lincoln. Around the same area, there used to be a western massasauga population, too. However, these snakes are now critically endangered.
You can also find prairie rattlesnakes, especially in the western half of the state, west of Lexington, and definitely around North Platte. They also live all along the border with South Dakota. These snakes are common across most of the Midwest.
Sidewinder rattlesnakes live only in the furthest south part of the state, in the Mojave Desert. Another species they cross paths with is the Mojave rattlesnake, Crotalus scutulatus.
One of the snakes that are far more common is the Western rattlesnake Crotalus oreganus, specifically the Great Basin rattlesnake, a subspecies. This species is widespread and lives in every state along the west coast, as well as inland through Nevada to Arizona, Idaho, and Utah.
The snake prefers the Great Basin to the arid Mojave Desert.
New Hampshire is the easternmost extent of the timber rattlesnake’s range. There are still some found in dense woodland, but not as many as there were. The snakes here have lost their pattern and color, and appear completely black.
Timber rattlesnakes are one of New Jersey’s most endangered species. They are found in select locations along, and near, the coast. These are the only rattlesnakes in the state.
New Mexico is similar to Texas and Arizona in terms of rattlesnake numbers. There are many different species, and they’re commonly found.
Western diamondback rattlesnakes live throughout most of the state, bar the far north and far west. Another rattlesnake species that lives in the south is the rock rattlesnake. These snakes can be differentiated because the rock rattlesnake is more gray than brown.
Another common rattlesnake in New Mexico is the black-tailed rattlesnake. The majority of the population of this species lives in Mexico itself. But they extend north into Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. They’re instantly recognizable due to their pitch-black tails.
A similar snake is the ridge-nosed rattlesnake. These snakes live all along the Sierra Madre Occidental. But their range extends north, over the border into NM and AZ. You can find them in the smallest corner of the state, from Rodeo to Hachita, and south to Antelope Wells.
One species that covers almost the entire state is the prairie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis. These snakes live throughout the state, apart from the area around Gila National Forest.
There is also a tiny population of Arizona black rattlesnakes. These live in the center of the border with Arizona. And where the borders of Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona meet, you’ll find some Mojave rattlesnakes, too.
Aside from that, you can find desert massasaugas. These are from a different genus of snakes (Sistrurus rather than Crotalus), but are considered rattlesnakes. They have the same rattle and a similar pattern. You can find them near El Paso, around Roswell and the Mescalero Reservation.
There are small pockets of timber rattlesnakes in New York State. They stretch into the western half of New York, near Buffalo and Rochester, although they are rarely seen. There may even be some across the border beyond Buffalo, into Canada.
Aside from that, you can find them in the densely forested heart of upstate New York. Populations were once found on Long Island, but haven’t been seen for a long time. This far north the weather can get too cold for these snakes.
The same applies to eastern massasaugas. These snakes used to love the swamps and bogs of the densely forested heart of New York. But habitat encroachment has left them with fewer places to live. Now, there are only isolated population pockets south of Rochester.
Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes live in the eastern half of the state, as do timber rattlesnakes. Timber rattlesnakes infrequently visit the area around Greensboro, but there are plenty near Raleigh and Charlotte, too.
Pygmy rattlers live in the southern half of the state, and most of the way up the coast. That includes the areas around Charlotte and Wilmington, but not Asheville.
The only venomous snake species in North Dakota is the prairie rattlesnake. If you want to find one, head to anywhere south of the Fort Berthold Reservation. There are some in the area around Bismarck, too.
That being said, North Dakota is the furthest north American state (along with Montana) where you can find these snakes. The weather isn’t ideal for them. When it gets cold, these snakes brumate, which is similar to hibernation.
You’re not as likely to find them as you are to find rattlesnakes in, say, Arizona. In warmer states, rattlesnakes can come out all year long, although they do still have a recognizable ‘season.’
There are two pockets of timber rattlesnakes in Ohio. The first is in the south-central part of the state. The second is in a north-central pocket near Lake Erie, and west of Cleveland. There are no timber rattlesnakes around significant population centers.
Across the north and west of the state, you also used to find eastern massasaugas. These snakes love swamps, but because of habitat loss, they’re much rarer than they used to be. According to the Ohio Public Library, you can still find them across the state, but only in isolated pockets.
You can find western diamondback rattlesnakes throughout the southern half of the state. In the southeast, there’s a substantial population of pygmy rattlesnakes, too.
There are timber rattlesnakes in the eastern half of the state, including the area around Oklahoma City. On the opposite side—so in the panhandle and the rest of the west, west of OK City—you have prairie rattlesnakes instead.
Right in the middle is a population of western massasaugas. These live around OK City, west and north, up to around Woodward. Massasaugas of every subspecies are rare and threatened with extinction. So, you’re more likely to find the other species listed here.
So, even though Oklahoma isn’t known for snakes like Texas or Arizona, there are still lots to find.
One snake that inhabits almost all of Oregon is the Western rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus. These snakes vary in both length and color, but are just as deadly as other species. They live almost everywhere in the state apart from the area around Portland.
This snake has several subspecies. There are two that you’ll find in Oregon. These are the Northern Pacific rattlesnake, and the Great Basin rattlesnake. Their names suggest where you’re likely to find each of them.
The Great Basin snake lives in Oregon south of the Upper Klamath Lake, while the Northern Pacific rattlesnake lives throughout the state.
The timber rattlesnake’s range still extends into Pennsylvania, even if it is shrinking. These snakes love the forested Allegheny and the Appalachian Mountains which stretch into the state. You can also find them around Harrisburg, but not Pittsburgh.
If you do see a rattler near Pittsburgh, it may be an eastern massasauga. If you do see one, count yourself lucky. These snakes are on the decline, especially at the edges of their range in PA and NY.
It’s unclear, but there may still be a small timber rattlesnake population in Rhode Island. There certainly used to be, but human encroachment on their habitat seems to have wiped them out. There haven’t been reports of any for a century or more, so it’s likely there aren’t.
Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes live throughout South Carolina, as do timber rattlesnakes. These two species compete for the same habitat here.
Throughout the state, you’ll also find pygmy rattlesnakes. You could be forgiven for thinking that these are juveniles of a different species. They only reach two feet long. They aren’t as common around Greenville as they are other parts of the state, though.
The only rattlesnake species you’re liable to find in South Dakota is the prairie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis. These snakes are common throughout the Midwest, but are only present in parts of North and South Dakota.
Here, you’ll find them along the border with Nebraska, all the way from east to west. They’re easy to find in reservation land. You can even find some around Sioux City, and just south of Sioux Falls, although they’re less common here.
You’ll also find them along the western border of the state. There are some not far from Rapid City, too, but they run all along the border with Wyoming, and then Montana too.
Timber rattlesnakes/canebrake rattlesnakes can be found throughout Tennessee. As the name suggests, they especially like to live in wooded areas. There are occasional news stories of them finding their way into people’s yards, but they prefer to be left alone.
The only other species you’ll find are pygmy rattlesnakes. These snakes are far less common. They only live around the Kentucky Lakes and the Tennessee River, in the western half of the state.
Texas is home to many venomous snakes. It is second only to Arizona in terms of the number of species, and their populations. That’s because of Texas’ unique location. To the north in the Midwest, and to the south is Mexico. Both have their own unique rattlesnake species.
Western diamondback rattlesnakes live throughout most of the state, but not in the east and far north. They’re perhaps the most commonly encountered. Another snake found here is the rock rattlesnake. This snake can be found along the borders with Mexico and New Mexico.
In the same area, there’s a small population of Mojave rattlesnakes. This might be surprising, given the distance from here to the Mojave. But the habitat here is as pleasant as it is for them in Arizona or Nevada.
There’s the black-tailed rattlesnake, also known as the green rattler. These snakes can be found as far east as Austin. They’re recognizable by their entirely black tail scales. Their other colors vary from yellows and olive greens, to browns and black.
Where you don’t get western diamondbacks, you do get timber rattlesnakes. These snakes inhabit the eastern half of the state, including the areas around Dallas, Houston, and Austin (but they don’t usually come as far as San Antonio).
The last Crotalus species in Texas is the Prairie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis. These snakes live up in the Texas Panhandle, and all across west Texas, near the borders with Mexico and New Mexico.
In the same area, you can find both western and desert massasaugas. An unconnected population of desert massasaugas lives around and south of San Antonio. You can also find western massasaugas between Houston and Austin, up through Dallas, towards Oklahoma.
And finally, in the east, there are pygmy rattlesnakes. As the name suggests, they’re smaller than other species. You can find them around Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston too, out to the Louisiana border.
Here’s some further info on snake season in Texas.
There’s a small population of the sidewinder rattlesnake in the bottom southwest corner of the state. Sidewinders are so named because of the unique way they move, to the side, like a crab.
Here, too, you’ll find the speckled rattlesnake. As the name suggests, it’s far more speckled.
But you will find rattlesnakes across the entire state of Utah. The Western rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus) covers almost the whole state, bar San Juan county in the southeast. You can find two subspecies; the midget faded rattlesnake and the Great Basin rattlesnake here.
Vermont represents the northernmost extent of the timber rattlesnake’s range. The snakes inhabit part of the western half of the state along the border with New York. There may also be a small pocket in the southern tip of the state.
According to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, the snakes are classed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need. They request that you report any sightings, especially any photographs of the snakes.
There are Eastern Diamondbacks in the southeastern counties, along with a small population of timber rattlesnakes there. Further west, towards the Appalachians, there’s a larger population of timbers, too.
There are only two snakes with ranges that extend as far north as Washington state. These are the timber rattlesnake and the Western rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus). The timber rattlesnake lives in the far northeast, and the Western rattlesnake lives in the far northwest.
This rattlesnake lives in the eastern half of the state especially, not the wooded western half. You can find them from Yakima up to the Colville National Forest in the northwest. Beyond that, you can find them north of Vancouver up to Kamloops in Canada.
There are several subspecies of this snake. The subspecies that live in Washington is the Crotelus oreganus oreganus, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake.
There’s a large population of timber rattlesnakes all along the wooded Appalachian Mountains. There are plenty around Charleston.
One of the few venomous snakes you’ll find in Wisconsin is the timber rattlesnake. They live along the Mississippi—so, most of the western half of the state. They also live in the area around Madison.
There are eastern massasaugas, too, although not as many as there used to be. These snakes live all along the border with Illinois and Iowa. The extent of their range is roughly from Milwaukee to La Crosse and Eau Claire.
There are only two venomous snakes found in Wyoming. One is the midget-faded rattlesnake, which is a subspecies of the Western rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus. You can find them around the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, and as far north as Rock Springs.
You can also find the prairie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis viridis. These snakes inhabit all of the North American Great Planes, from Idaho and the Rocky Mountains in the west to Iowa in the east. They also range from the Mexican border in the south, deep into Canada past Calgary.