Snakes of Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg snake

Welcome to! I am David, a snake enthusiast living in Harrisburg, PA. Many people don't know that Harrisburg is in fact full of snakes! You just need to know where to find them - they can often be shy and elusive. Some Pennsylvania snake species are more common outside of the city limits, in different parts of Dauphin County PA, but many types of snakes are indeed common in the more urban parts of Harrisburg. This guide is meant to help educate you about the beautiful snakes of Harrisburg, and to help you identify the most common snakes of Harrisburg, as well as the venomous snakes of Harrisburg that you should learn to recognize and avoid. If you want more detail, click here for my complete list of ALL snake species in Harrisburg. Remember the following:

  • Most snakes of Harrisburg are harmless and don't want to encounter you
  • Venomous snakes exist but are uncommon in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Snakes eat rats and mice and are a valuable part of the Pennsylvania ecosystem
  • Never kill a snake - if you leave a snake alone, it will leave you alone.

Common Snake Species in Harrisburg

Harrisburg snake Rat Snake: The eastern rat snake, also called the black rat snake, is one of the largest snakes that can be commonly found in Pennsylvania. They feature a black or dark brown body with white throats. This non-venomous snake feeds on a variety of prey, such as rodents, birds, amphibians, and other snakes. The eastern rat snake can be anywhere from three to eight feet long and is excellent at climbing trees and structures. They have been found around urban areas, as the only real requirement for them is that they have access to rodents, which in some urban areas, there is an abundance of. These snakes are harmless to humans other than a painful bite if they are startled.

Harrisburg snake Garter Snake: The eastern garter snake is one of the most common snakes in the United States, and Harrisburg is no different. In fact, the garter snake is the single most common snake in urban areas. They can thrive in highly urban areas, as they feed on a variety of insects and other small creatures. These snakes have dark backgrounds with light-colored stripes and bellies. The garter snake can be anywhere from one to four feet long. Eastern garter snakes are completely harmless to humans, and they are often beneficial to keep, as they take care of less desirable insects.

Harrisburg snake Milk Snake: One of the most misidentified snakes in Pennsylvania is the milk snake. They are often killed because they look similar to copperheads. The surefire way to tell them apart is that eastern milk snakes have markings on their head, while copperheads have a solid copper-colored head. Milk snakes’ bodies feature light-colored backgrounds with dark splotches around them. These snakes love to feed on mice and other less desirable animals, making them a great snake to keep around. The eastern milk snake can live in a variety of habitats, from woodland to urban areas, making them incredibly adaptable to living near Harrisburg. In fact, milk snakes enjoy living near buildings and semi-urban areas because they often find large rodent populations, which they can feed on. The eastern milk snake is harmless to humans other than the bite they can leave if they have been startled or handled.

Venomous Snake Species in Harrisburg

Harrisburg snake Copperhead: Copperheads Like much of the eastern United States, the state of Pennsylvania contains the eastern copperhead snake. Named for its unique copper-colored head and body design, this snake is venomous and can be very dangerous for humans. While the bites are oftentimes dry, meaning there is very little to no venom injected, some bites can be lethal. The eastern copperhead is anywhere from two to three feet long and has a triangular head shape. The copperhead mostly only strikes when it is startled by someone, rarely biting a human just because. They commonly eat small mammals, birds, amphibians, and even other snakes.

Harrisburg snake Rattlesnakes: Pennsylvania is home to two venomous rattlesnakes, the timber rattlesnake, and the eastern massasauga. While it is rare to find these snakes in an area like Harrisburg, it is always possible and potentially deadly. That is why it is important to be aware of the poisonous snakes of the state. Timber rattlesnakes grow to be quite large, sometimes up to six feet in length. They are easily identified by their unique design which consists of V-shaped dark bands around a lighter colored background of their body. Their heads and eyes can either be darker colored or yellow colored. The eastern massasauga is smaller, generally around two to three feet in length. They feature a gray background with dark splotches all around its body, in addition to a black belly. Both the eastern massasauga and the timber rattlesnake have venom that is capable of causing death to humans. While they generally do not attack unless provoked, it is smart to always exercise caution around them.

If you're unsure, you can email me a photo of the snake at and I will email you back with the snake's species. If you found a snake skin, read my Found a Skin? page, and you can email me a photo of the skin, and I'll identify the snake for you. If you need professional Harrisburg snake removal help, click my Get Help page, or see the below website sponsor I found, who provides that service.

Remember, the term is not poisonous snakes of Harrisburg, it's venomous snakes of Harrisburg. Poison is generally something you eat, and venom is injected into you. That said, dangerous snakes are very rare in Harrisburg. The few venomous snakes of Dauphin County are rarely seen. But they are commonly misidentified, so learn about all the snake species of Harrisburg in order to correctly identify them. These snakes are usually also found in the surrounding towns of Harrisburg, Dauphin, Hershey, Hummelstown, Middletown, Halifax, Millersburg, Elizabethville, Steelton, Lykens, Highspire, Paxtang, Gratz, Linglestown, Williamstown, Penbrook, Wiconisco, Berrysburg, Royalton, Colonial Park, Paxtonia, Union Deposit, Pillow, Progress, Lawnton, Rutherford, Skyline View, Lenkerville, Palmdale and the surrounding areas.

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