Many people realize the value of snakes, even if they might not appreciate having them in their home or yard.
Are snakes dangerous?
The majority of Minnesota snakes are harmless. Of the 17 snake species in the state, only two are venomous -- the timber rattlesnake and the massasauga. Both are found only in the southeastern counties and are rarely encountered. The snake that most often appears in homes and yards is the common garter snake, which is harmless.
If you live within the range of the timber rattler or massasauga, you should be careful when approaching any snake. It is, however, very uncommon for rattlesnakes to be found around human dwellings.
Many harmless species of snake attempt mimic rattlesnakes by vibrating their tails to deter predators!
Identifying a snake
The best way to identify any snake you see is to check a reference book. "Reptiles and Amphibians Native to Minnesota" by Barney Oldfield and John Moriarty is an excellent resource and is available in most libraries.
Keeping a wild snake as a pet
Depending upon the species, most snakes can be kept as a pet. No one should try to keep venomous snakes. Small snakes, such as brown and redbelly snakes or juvenile garter snakes can be difficult for inexperienced handlers to keep and feed. There are numerous books on how to keep snakes. The Minnesota Herpetological Society can provide you with care information.
Other reptiles or amphibians in your home or yard
Occasionally, prairie skinks or tiger salamanders get into houses. They enter the same holes in foundations as other animals might and can be controlled using the same techniques discussed here.
In your yard, frogs and toads may be very common at certain times of the year. Turtles often come around in June when they are looking for a nesting site. These animals will normally move on if left alone. They are not dangerous nor do they cause damage.