New Jersey - Snakes

New Jersey is home to some 22 snake species, many of which may look dangerous to humans. However, most are ultimately beneficial in the capture of rats and mice. Common non-venomous snake species include the Black Racer, Eastern Garter Snake, Milk Snake, Black Rat Snake, Eastern Ribbon Snake, Eastern Hognose Snake, Scarlet Kingsnake, and the Northern Water Snake which is commonly confused with the Copperhead. The Corn Snake is also present in New Jersey but it is an endangered species.

Poisonous Snakes of New Jersey (Northern Copperhead and Timber Rattlesnake)

New Jersey is home to two types of venomous snakes. The Northern Copperhead, and the Timber Rattlesnake (Endangered). They are in the family of pit vipers. The venom of these snakes is haemotoxic, that is, it destroys the red blood cells and the walls of the blood vessels of the victim.

It is extremely rare for the average citizen to encounter a rattlesnake or copperhead due to their elusive nature, preference for interior forest habitat, small, localized populations, and sensitivity to human disturbance. The chance of being bitten by a venomous snake in New Jersey is far less than being struck by lightening. Those who have been bitten in the last half-century, in most cases have attempted to handle the snake, or more rarely, were walking through venomous snake territory in the dark with inappropriate footwear. However, while still rare, increased development and encroachment into venomous snake territory has increased the likelihood of human-venomous snake interactions.

Controlling snake presence

  • Keep your lawn mowed short to deter snake presence and so you can view potential snake activity at a glance.
  • Keep your property free of mulch and debris piles. Mulch is composting material that generates heat as it decomposes, creating a warm, inviting basking area for some snakes. Debris piles attract rodents which attract snakes.
  • Remove any food that attracts rodents.
  • Some snakes, such as garter snakes and milk snakes, can often be found near homes and in basements. During the summer months, homeowners should make certain that all cracks and crevices in the house and outbuilding foundations are sealed.
  • Although not scientifically proven, some people believe the use of aromatic cedar mulch annually deters snake presence on their properties.

You can read more about New Jersey snakes here.