The common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) is just that — common. They are a small snake, usually less than 3 feet, and are non-venomous. The snakes are found throughout Iowa and much of the U.S., as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. However common they are in the summertime, they quickly disappear as the…

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Photos of Iowa's venomous snakes

“Does Iowa have any poisonous snakes?” It’s a question that comes up when visitors see our animal ambassador snakes, and the answer is “No.” That might not be what you expected. You see, snakes in North American are not poisonous, they are venomous — which means they inject a toxin rather than secreting a poison…

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Photo of snake sticking out its tongue

If you find a snakeskin in the wild, it’s usually inside out! When it sheds, it slithers out of its old skin, like pulling a sock off your foot, so it ends up inside out! Watch the video for more information on how and why snakes shed their skin. Check out more of our animal…

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Photo of a corn snake

Besides their forked tongues, probably the main thing that creeps people out about snakes is their ability to move without legs or feet. (The reason a snake sticks out its tongue, and why it’s forked.) I have to say, before I started working at the Dickinson County Nature Center, back when I was still petrified…

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Photo of snake sticking out its tongue

Why do snakes stick out their tongues at you? Have you ever seen this? You’ve been looking at one of the snake animal ambassadors at the nature center, and one of them sticks out her black tongue and flicks it around. She is smelling you! The snake’s tongue has a fork on the end of…

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It breaks my heart. Someone intentionally ran over two young raccoons a few blocks from my house. Kids at a day care were encouraged to throw rocks at a snake and hit a bat with foam bats. I heard both of these stories within the past day, and they just give me a pit in…

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