What Poisonous Snakes Are There in Canada?

Canada is home to four species of venomous snakes, including the Northern Pacific rattlesnake, Massasauga, Desert Nightsnake and Prairie rattlesnake. Snake venom is a toxin, not a poison, so there are no poisonous snakes found in Canada or anywhere else in the world.

Venom is a toxin that is injected into the skin via fangs and cannot be absorbed through the skin. Poison is readily absorbed through the skin, so injection is not necessary.

All rattlesnakes possess three key features, including a triangular-shaped head, a rattle on the end of the tail and a distinct neck. Colors and patterns vary across different species. Because rattlesnakes are well-adapted to their surroundings and use their patterning for camouflage, their distinctive rattle may be the only indication of their close proximity to a human. This serves as a warning to potential predators and typically precedes a strike. However, if the rattlesnake is stepped on or perceives an immediate threat, it may strike reflexively.

The Northern Pacific rattlesnake is found in central British Columbia in the Thompson Okanagan region. The Massasauga rattlesnake is found in the Georgian Bay region of Ontario. The Desert Nightsnake is found in southern British Columbia. The Prairie rattlesnake is found in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta.