Prairie rattlesnakes expand their territory in ND

Published: Aug. 8, 2018 at 9:58 AM CDT
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North Dakota only has one venomous snake, and usually, it keeps to the south side of the Missouri river. But occasionally, prairie rattlesnakes make their way north.

"Rattlesnakes are primarily found in southwestern North Dakota, but they have been observed in counties bordering the Missouri River on the north and to the east, in what would be considered their secondary range. So most of the rattlesnakes in North Dakota are found south and west of the river, inhabiting grassier areas, sagebrush, woody areas, stuff like that, habitat like that. Not necessarily that much north of the river, but they have been observed, historically, north of the river," said Kent Luttschwager, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Wildlife Resource section leader.

Luttschwager says sometimes bullsnakes can be confused for a rattlesnake. He says they look similar in coloring, and bullsnakes will hiss and rattle their tale in the grass, even opening their mouth and posturing like a rattlesnake.

They too are often only found south and west of the Missouri River, but like rattlesnakes, have been observed on the north and east side of the river in their secondary range.