PRATT – While the odds are very low that you will be bit by a venomous snake in Kansas, that’s little consolation for anyone who ends up with a bite. Of the 42 species of snakes in Kansas, there are only four native venomous snakes you might encounter: the prairie rattlesnake – found in the western half of the state; the massasauga rattlesnake – found in the eastern two-thirds of the state; the timber rattlesnake – found in the eastern fourth of the state; and the copperhead, found in the eastern third of the state. Cottonmouths are very rare in Kansas. Just two specimens of the northern cottonmouth have been recorded in the Spring River drainage in the far southeastern corner of the state. Western diamond-backed rattlesnakes were introduced, but are not widespread and have been recorded in only a few central-Kansas locations.
All venomous snakes found in Kansas are pit vipers, meaning they have heat-sensitive pits in front of each eye to help locate prey. Their venom is hemotoxic, causing internal bleeding and tissue damage.
Snakes are active during the warmer months between late March and November – the same time when people are most active outdoors. Most snakes are found in rural or semi-rural areas where there is suitable habitat and prey. They may be found in woodlands and shrubby areas; brush, log or rock piles; around water; in tall grass; around rocky outcrops or ledges; or even under ornamental shrubbery and gardens. Kansas’ venomous snakes feed primarily on rodents, but their diet may also include insects, frogs, toads, lizards, small birds and other snakes. Snakes cannot regulate their body temperature internally, so when it’s hot, they may be more active at night, retreating to shady areas or under rocks and logs during the