Eastern Hog Nose Snake.

The Most Snake Infested Lakes in Kansas

The landlocked state of Kansas is home to a surprisingly diverse snake population. There are nearly forty species of snakes within the ecosystems of Kansas and many lakes and reservoirs where they might be lurking close by. Luckily for locals and visitors alike, only 5 of them are venomous, and there have been no recorded deaths from snake bites in over 50 years, so chances are slim any of them will pose a real threat, but that doesn’t make it any less unsettling to come across one in the wild if you’re the least bit skittish about snakes. More than likely, if you’re enjoying one of the many beautiful lakes Kansas has to offer, you will cross paths with one or two. The following is a list of the most snake-infested lakes in Kansas.

Lone Star Lake

A camoflauged Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) patiently waits in the bushes for prey to wander by.
A camouflaged Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) patiently waits in the bushes for prey to wander by.

Lone Star Lake is a real treasure within the borders of Douglas County, Kansas. It is a completely man-made lake stretching over 185 acres. Visitors enjoy camping, water recreation, fishing, and so much more, making it an attractive destination for those who enjoy the great outdoors. It may also be an attractive destination for snakes as well, providing a naturally abundant habitat for certain species to thrive. One of the species of snakes that may be encountered here is the Rough Green snake. It has a bright green, slender body and yellow underbelly, which are easy to recognize and are most active during the day. If one slithers past your toes as you’re hiking nearby trails around the lake, you can rest assured they are completely harmless. The Rough Green snake’s diet consists only of insects.

Wilson Lake

Western rat snake in defense position.
Western rat snake in defense position.

Wilson Lake, also known as Wilson Reservoir, is thought of as one of the most beautiful areas in Russell County, Kansas, spanning 9,000 acres. The shorelines of Wilson Lake are rugged, and there are a variety of outcroppings and cliffsides, which is prime real estate for a variety of wildlife, including bears, deer, waterfowl, and many more. When it comes to snakes, there is a likelihood of encountering the Western Rat Snake, which has been sighted in this region of Kansas. Known for its keeled scales, black body, head, and tail, it also has a cream-colored belly with blotchy patches. Its natural habitat includes hillsides, wooded areas, and large bodies of water. Though it is harmless to humans, animals such as rodents, birds, and rabbits are not so fortunate as they are the main staples of the Western Rat Snake’s diet.

Clinton Lake

Wilderness surrounds an arm of Clinton Lake in Kansas.
Wilderness surrounds an arm of Clinton Lake in Kansas.

Clinton Lake is another jewel in the crown of Douglas County, Kansas. It is a favored outdoor destination, prized for its clear blue waters. It is used for boating, fishing, and recreation and provides over 50 miles of hiking trails. It also provides a water supply for 10,000 people as well as flood control in the local area. Measuring 9,200 acres in size, Clinton Lake enjoys an abundant habitat for many animals such as Great Blue Herons, gulls, White-Tailed Deer, and cormorants, to name a few. The Gopher Snake is one of the snake species to watch out for at Clinton Lake, easily identified because it will often hiss if approached, most likely hiding in the nearby woods. Though it surely can cause fright if encountered, don’t let its hiss scare you; the Gopher Snake is totally harmless.

Milford Lake

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake.

Geary County is the location of Milford Lake, the largest lake in all of Kansas. It is tucked in along the famous Flint Hills and features over 160 miles of shoreline, including sandy beaches and boat launches for recreational purposes. Visitors also enjoy camping, canoeing, and kayaking. The Eastern Hog-Nosed snake might slither across your path as you enjoy your visit at Milford Lake, but don’t let its upturned snout, bulky body, and rough scales give you a fright. They like to lurk near water and in the forest but are not harmful to humans. there is only one item on the menu for this species of snake, and that is toads. Toads are the only prey of the Eastern Hog-Nosed snake, making them an integral part of the Milford Lake ecosystem as they serve to control the toad population.

Hillsdale Lake

The scenic Hillsdale Lake and its rocky coast at sunset in Kansas.
The scenic Hillsdale Lake and its rocky coast at sunset in Kansas.

Hillsdale Lake is in Miami County, Kansas. As with many lakes and reservoirs, it is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who monitor the area to oversee flood reduction, water supply, and damage reduction. The Lake is ideal for recreational use and covers nearly 4,600 surface acres with 8,000 acres of surrounding public lands. It won’t be unheard of for you to encounter a true Water Snake while enjoying these waters because the environment here is part of their natural habitat. They are the least aquatic of all the water snakes in Kansas and prefer lakes and mountain streams. They are identifiable by their dark brown coloring and cream-colored belly, with lengths of approximately 55 inches. The main giveaway when attempting to identify another snake in the area, the Graham’s Crayfish Snake, is their diet, which consists of strictly crayfish. Typically, water snakes in this area also prey on frogs and fish.

Falls River Lake

Adult diamondback water snake in natural habitat.
Adult diamondback water snake in natural habitat.

Falls River Lake, in Greenwood County, Kansas, shows off its natural beauty and the array of wildlife thriving within this diverse region, which includes savannahs, tallgrass prairies, as well as a wide range of plant life thriving within forested floodplains. It is surrounded by 9,000 acres of protected wildlife area where doves, quals, and many other animals thrive. It is also home to the Diamondback Water Snake, known for its dark spots shaped like half moons on a yellow belly. It is non-venomous and should not be confused with the Diamondback Rattle Snake, which is highly venomous. It also has dark bands of color on an otherwise light-colored body. The Diamondback water snake’s habitat includes lakes, swampy areas, and marshes. They are diurnal hunters. However, they can be nocturnal hunters in the summer, so they likely won’t make an appearance during the daytime and are harmless to humans. If one is spotted in the daytime, however, it will likely be basking in the sun on a log or rock.

Melvern Lake

Common water snake Reptile Nerodia sipedon.
Common water snake Reptile Nerodia sipedon.

Osage County is the location of Melvern Lake, within the Kansas Flint Hills Region. Measuring 7,000 acres in size, it is a nature lover’s paradise as it is surrounded by 18,000 acres of land set aside for public use. Visitors enjoy serviced campsites, gorgeous sunsets, and fresh water. Hunting is also permitted at Melvern Lake during the season. The Common Water Snake is right at home in this locale as well, dining on toads, fish, and frogs. It is similar in appearance to the Diamondback water snake with half-moon-shaped speckles and is found in any location where there is water. Their prey consists of toads, fish, and frogs, but they are totally harmless to humans. Nevertheless, they can give a fright if they happen to slither passed your legs while out for a swim in Melvern Lake.

The State of Kansas is a natural paradise for wildlife. Large swaths of untouched grasslands and forests encompass some of the best lakes and reservoirs in the region. Snake infestations really turn out to be a thriving population due to healthy ecosystems, and they are valuable contributors to their habitat. Of the 40 species in Kansas, it is rare to encounter a venomous snake, but there is a likelihood of spotting at least one of the snakes mentioned in this list, so be on the lookout and watch your step!


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