Illinois' Midwestern location and diverse habitats make it a haven for snake species, both harmless and venomous. Rivers and wetlands provide ideal breeding grounds for these slithery creatures, and it's hard to escape them if you're out exploring nature.

The thought of encountering a nasty snake while enjoying a peaceful day on the river is enough to make me want to stay far away.

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Why Does Illinois Have So Many Snakes?

Turns out Illinois is a great location for snakes...and no, I'm not talking about the politicians.

  • Geographic location
  • Abundant waterways
  • Humid climate

A recent list looked at the nine most snake-infested rivers in America. I was not surprised to see the mighty Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers are on this list. They both have everything a snake could want.

Except me. They won't get me anymore.  I'm swearing off swimming in the river.


Don't Let Them Scare You

Despite my fear, I do appreciate the beauty of nature and the diverse wildlife that inhabits it. However, it's important to take precautions and be aware of the risks associated with encountering snakes in the wild.

By learning how to identify different species and taking necessary safety measures, you can still enjoy the great outdoors without letting your fear take over.

Historic Trust Releases List Of Most Endangered US Places
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Snakes Found In The Mississippi River

  • Northern water snake
  • Bullsnake
  • Eastern milksnake
  • Plains garter snake
  • Eastern garter snake
  • Plains hognose snake
  • Eastern hognose snake
  • Timber rattlesnake
  • Eastern yellow-bellied racer
  • Northern red belly snake
  • Western foxsnake
  • Texas brown snake

If you hate snakes and live on the Mississippi there is good news, snakes usually avoid areas with high human populations. The source goes on to say,

In most areas, the snake population is skittish enough that you won’t see the reptiles. In fact, snakes hate being around humans and will dart away if they’re able to escape being seen. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee anything for anyone, and the many snakes that get spotted are as unhappy about it as the folks who spot them.


Snakes Found In The Missouri River 

That's right, the Missouri River is also on this list.

Missouri River is home to a huge array of wildlife species, including a ton of different snakes. The 2,540 miles of waterway may be home to as many as 47 different snake species and something like 900 animal species nearby.


  • Northern water snake
  • Diamondback water snake
  • Yellow-bellied water snake
  • Graham’s crayfish snake
  • Mississippi green water snake
  • Western mud snake
  • Water moccasin (cottonmouth)
  • Broad-banded water snake

How can I stay safe while exploring Illinois rivers?

  • Wear protective clothing: When exploring rivers and wetlands, it's important to wear long pants, boots, and gloves to protect yourself from potential snake bites.
  • Keep a safe distance: If you encounter a snake, keep a safe distance and avoid disturbing it. Snakes will only attack if they feel threatened.
  • Know the signs of a snake bite: Symptoms of a snake bite may include pain, swelling, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Stay safe out there.

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