These Are The Five Most Snake-Infested Lakes In Wisconsin
When you live or even spend significant time in the Northland, you quickly learn that it's hard to beat a great day at the lake. Whether you're swimming or fishing from shore, or out on a boat, it's a great summer day.
However, that is not always the case for people who aren't fond of all of the creatures we share the water with. While weeds, horseflies, and mosquitoes can be annoying, and some types of fish are to be expected, snakes are one of those creatures that completely freak some people out. In fact, some people will see a snake and instantly decide to look for a different place to enjoy the water.
Recently, we shared the four most snake-infested lakes in Minnesota, along with the types of snakes you just may encounter. Since the Northland features people from both Minnesota and Wisconsin, it's time to look at the snake situation in America's Dairyland.
According to AZ Animals, Wisconsin is home to dozens of snake species, six of which are water snakes most commonly live in or frequent lakes throughout the state.
The six species of water snakes you might encounter include:
- Common Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon). Although many mistake it for the venomous cottonmouth snake, the common watersnake is not venomous. They will, however, defend themselves and their bites are painful. The markings between the two snakes are similar, with brown, gray, red, or brownish markings on its back. Most common water snakes grow to be an average of two to three feet, though they’ve been known to grow up to four feet long.
- Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis saurita). These are much smaller than the common water snake, only growing to 34 inches at its largest. Most eastern ribbon snakes make their homes on riverbanks and shorelines of lakes, ponds, and streams. These adaptive snakes make their home both in and out of the water, seeking refuge in bushes or across the waves when sense danger.
- Plains Garter Snake (Thamnophis radix). The plains garter snake is native to most of the central United States and has a distinctive orange or yellow stripe down its back against an otherwise dark background. These snakes grow to about 3 feet in length on average. Plains garter snakes are mildly venomous to humans and pets and bites should be treated, but they aren't considered deadly.
- Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus). Western ribbon snakes usually grow to about 20 to 30 inches long, making their habitats close to water via ponds, lakes, springs, marshes, and rivers. Their diet consists of mostly tadpoles, fish, lizards, frogs, and other amphibians. While considered nonvenomous, individual reports have cited the western ribbon snake’s saliva as having toxic properties. However, they are not harmful to humans.
- Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata). This snake lives on a diet of crayfish, so they have a very specific habitat that allows them to hunt. You'll find queen snakes in an environment featuring clean running water or watersheds with a rocky bottom. A queen snake will use its tongue to taste where the newly-mottled crayfish hatch, which is why clean water is crucial. Even if threatened these snakes will not bite, but they will excrete an anal musk similar to the garter snake, and your crazy Uncle Todd, to ward off predators.
- Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). From red to yellow, to brown, to blue and black, these snakes feature a wide variety of colorings. Their diet consists mainly of amphibians, which brings their habitat close to water sources like lakes, ponds, shorelines, and wetlands. Interestingly, common garter snakes will aggressively strike when first threatened, but once it’s touched, the snake becomes passive. Common garter snakes are venomous, but the venom doesn’t usually negatively affect humans outside of mild burning or itching.
The Five Most Snake-Infested Lakes In Wisconsin
Now that we know which water snakes that most common in Wisconsin, here are the 5 lakes that people who have an aversion to snakes should avoid.
1. Devil’s Lake State Park. Hosting nearly three million visitors each year, Devil's Lake State Park ranks as one of Wisconsin's most popular state parks. It's located around the Baraboo Range in Sauk County, Wisconsin. The lake is the biggest attraction, with a beach on both the north side and the south side, but you can also enjoy hiking, camping, hunting, boating, and more. You'll find a variety of watersnakes here, and rattlesnakes have even been spotted in the park. Rattlesnakes, however, are usually not aggressive.2. Lake Pepin. This naturally-formed lake on the Mississippi River sits on the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. At 22 miles long, it stretches through several towns and offers an abundance of water activities like boating, fishing, swimming, and more. Lake Pepin is home to a variety of water snakes, including the common garter snake, and the common water snake. Lake Pepin also has a local legend about a serpent-like creature dubbed “Pepie” similar to the Loch Ness Monster. Just like Devil's Lake State Park, timber rattlesnakes have been spotted in the area.3. Lake Michigan. Wisconsin borders the Great Lake, Lake Michigan, home to a vast array of water snakes. With hundreds of miles of coastline the chances of encountering a snake while sunbathing, paddleboarding, playing beach volleyball, and hiking are high. The plains garter snake and the common (or northern) water snake are among the variety of snakes you may see. Thankfully, in Wisconsin, you probably won’t have to deal with the eastern massasauga, the most dangerous of the Lake Michigan snakes.4. Lake Winnebago. At nearly 140,000 acres of land and water, Lake Winnebago ranks as the largest lake entirely in the state of Wisconsin. The lake is known for its exquisite fishing opportunities. As for water snakes, the common garter snake and the eastern garter snake are among those you're least likely to encounter. Again, these snakes tend to shy away from humans but can and will bite. While a bite is not dangerous to humans or pets, it may cause itching and burning. Make sure to monitor the bite to ensure that it doesn’t get infected. Side note: Because of its location, winter brings ice shoves into Lake Winnebago.5. Castle Rock Lake. This man-made lake is a local favorite swimming destination and is also the home to several Wisconsin water snakes. Visitors are most likely to see the common garter snake in the area, and the common water snake may also make an appearance. Castle Rock Lake is a large body of water that is a great place to fish for muskellunge, the official state fish of Wisconsin. It's also perfect for boating and other water recreational activities. Why let snakes have all the fun?
Wisconsin has an abundance of lakes to choose from to some of the best outdoor fun imaginable. However, if snakes just aren't your thing, you may want to steer clear of the 5 lakes above. You could also just embrace nature, not literally of course, and share those amazing lakes with our slithering friends.