Which Part of Oklahoma has the Most Snakes? This Might Surprise You
Oklahoma is home to many of things, venomous snakes are just an everyday threat we all live with... but which part of Oklahoma is the biggest threat to life and limb?
Spoiler, there are venomous snakes throughout the entire Sooner State. From the swamps of Idabel to the Black Mesa of the panhandle, there isn't a single place on the map where danger noodles don't exist... but your odds of encountering one or more deadly species increase depending on where you go.
The Big Seven
Of the 47 native species of snake in the state, seven of them are venomous.
- Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
- Timber Rattlesnake
- Prairie Rattlesnake
- Western Pygmy Rattlesnake
- Western Massasauga Rattlesnake
While the big seven venomous snakes may overlap a little native range within our borders, the Massasauga and Prairie Rattlesnakes keep to the western portions of the state. The rest of them can be found almost anywhere.
It's worth mentioning too, snakes generally lash out in defense of themselves. They don't actually come looking for a fight with us humans. The vast majority of snakebites happen due to accidental negligence--when you unknowingly get too close for their comfort. That's why it's so important to watch where you step anytime you're in the wilds of the Sooner State.
Which Part of OK has the Most?
Living in Lawton, it's not weird to stumble across a Western Diamondback, Copperhead, or Cottonmouth nope-rope while exploring the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. I used to go to summer camp in Faxon and it was common to see them there too. Especially near the creek where all the trees were, but Southwest Oklahoma isn't the snake capital of the state.
If you overlay the native range graphics from this OU snake infographic, Southeast Oklahoma is the snakey part of the state. At least it plays home to five of OK's seven venomous species.
Understandable I suppose. There are ample amounts of forest and habitable water sources. We vacation over there because it's so ideal and naturally beautiful, it's only natural that nature agrees.
Is Any Part of Oklahoma Safer Than Another, Snake-wise?
Eh, that's not really how I'd put it. No part of Oklahoma is any more snake-dangerous than any other. There are venomous species all across the state, but that doesn't mean you're in any danger at any given moment.
In my fifteen-ish years of fishing the little lakes of the Wichita Mountains, I've only run across two snakes. One Copperhead and a very chill Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, which is surprising to me since I've spent so much time walking in tall grass out there.
In fact, I think most people have better odds of seeing snakes within their local city limits. Since everyone cuts their grass, it's hard not to notice them sulking through a yard. I even have a family of lined snakes that normally live around my house, but I haven't seen them yet this spring. I'm afraid summer 2022 may have been too tough on them. I hope they show back up though, they were good natural pest control.
How to Avoid Snakes.
It's a lot easier to avoid snakes than it is to encounter them. You just have to be aware of where you're walking when you're in their territory.
My cousin and I were fishing in a farm pond a few years ago. The water was low enough that you could walk between the grass and the edge of the water. While walking around the bank, the grass started rattling literally next to us. After we unfroze from the obvious worry, we slowly backed away as calmly as possible, and it stayed hidden away below the fauna.
At least rattlesnakes will let you know they're there. Cottonmouths are very defensive and it's hard to miss that cotton-white mouth in the middle of a dark brown/black coil of scales. Copperheads are the hardest to avoid I suppose. Some say they'll hiss, but they camouflage so well it's hard to spot 'em until it's too late.
All the same, staying on a well-traveled path is best practice anyway.
Oklahoma's Venomous Snakes
The Best Places to Live in Oklahoma in 2023
Top 12 trashiest Oklahoma towns & sleazy cities