garter snake on a rock

Common gartersnake

Updated: June 6, 2022
  • Maryland has several species of snakes that live in rural, suburban, and urban areas. All are perfectly harmless except for the copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. Both are found mostly in the northern and western regions of the state. 
  • Of all the reptiles, snakes are considered the most highly adapted to man's environment.
  • Many snakes eat rodents which are most plentiful where people live and provide natural rodent control.
  • The most common species of snakes that live around the home include the eastern garter snake, brown snake, worm snake, ringneck snake, hog-nosed snake, black rat snake, and an eastern king snake. Northern water snakes sometimes are seen if there is a stream or pond nearby.
  • Be aware that many harmless snakes become entangled in fencing, especially deer netting causing them to die. 

Maryland Department of Natural Resources -Snakes of Maryland (photos of snakes)

Herp (reptiles & amphibians) Survey Techniques, Collecting Ethics, Safety, and the Law

  • Although many people are afraid of snakes, they should not be harmed. They eat rodents.
  • They all are beneficial and their presence in the backyard is only part of nature. Even if you suspect that the snake is venomous, avoid killing it. 
  • Countless species of harmless snakes are killed because people thought they were doing the right thing. It is illegal to kill snakes in Maryland.
  • Snakes occasionally wander into basements. Prevent this from occurring by caulking all openings around the house, especially windows and doors. To discourage snakes from living close to your house, remove stacks of firewood, leaves, or other debris from near the home.
  • Snakes like to hide in dense vegetation and debris. When working in areas where copperheads and rattlesnakes are found, wear gloves when moving logs, rock, or underbrush. Look first before putting your hands where a venomous snake might be hiding.