The Most Snake-Infested Lakes in New York

Key Facts

  • New York is home to a variety of lakes which are a rather attractive habitat for snakes.
  • The state itself is home to 17 species of the reptile with the black rat, the common garter, and the eastern milk snakes being the most common.
  • Only three species are venomous: the copperhead, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, and the timberland rattlesnake.  

New York, the state, is quite popular, as much as its largest city, which goes by the same name. It is the fourth most populous state in the United States. The state is known for its cultural, media, and economic significance, but there are more intriguing things about the Empire State.

New York boasts diverse geography, such as mountains, islands, and more than 7,600 freshwater bodies, which include lakes and ponds. The state notably borders Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, as well as the famous Niagara Falls. These diverse landscapes allow a variety of animals to occupy areas of the state, including snakes, which are rather fond of lake areas. 

These slithering reptiles are all capable of swimming in shallow and slow-moving lakes, but some spend more time in water bodies than others. Due to their fast and mass reproduction, these semi-aquatic snakes can easily cause an infestation problem, even in lakes. This article dives into the most snake-infested lakes in New York.

How Many Snake Species Are in New York?

New York City, Urban Skyline, City, USA, Cityscape
There are 17 snake species in New York.


New Yorkers are not quite accustomed to encountering snakes so often. The northeastern state has 17 snake species, which pales greatly compared to Texas, which has 105 different species and subspecies of snakes, per Texas Parks and Wildlife. These species can be found in the wet parts of the state, such as the Hudson Valley and Bergen Swamp.

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Of the 17 snake species in New York, only three are venomous: the northern copperhead, timber rattlesnake, and the eastern massasauga rattlesnake.

Some common snake species in New York are the eastern milk snake, the common garter snake, and the black rat snake, which is the longest snake in the state. Despite the vast range of these snakes within the state, there is only one water snake species, the northern watersnake.    

6 Most Snake-Infested Lakes in New York

Several snakes in New York can be found in almost every part of the state. Six of the most snake-infested lakes in New York are:

1. Echo Lake

Echo lake
Echo Lake is known for its abundance of aquatic and common gartersnakes, which threaten the amphibian and trout populations.

©Squidocto / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Echo Lake is a mountain lake found within the Catskill Mountains. The 13-acre lake is good for fishing, and the surrounding landscapes for hiking. According to U.S. Forest Service, the brook and rainbow trouts are abundant fish species in the lake and serve as food to semi-aquatic snakes in the region.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the aquatic and common garter snakes are quite common in the Echo Lake Basin. These snakes are typically found in areas with fish abundance. However, once the fish are depleted, they turn on amphibians.

2. Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain, the 120 miles long, has recently seen a rise in rattlesnakes.

©Cassie Blaise-Metcalf/

Lake Champlain is located between New York and Vermont. The 435-square-mile lake stretches for 120 miles and is considered the Sixth Great Lake. According to Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, the common watersnake is established in Lake Champlain Basin.

News reports reveal that Split Rock Mountain, which is close to the lake, has had a rise in rattlesnake population in recent years. The reason for this is believed to be climate change and the Split Rock Wildway, a migratory route for animals. There are reportedly two snake dens in the area, kept secret from humans to protect the snakes.

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3. Lake Erie

Lake Erie is a Great Lake known for its large population of Lake Erie Watersnakes.


Lake Erie is the shallowest Great Lake in the United States and the fourth largest by surface area. According to the Great Lakes Commission, the 62 feet deep lake touches four American States, including New York, and also Ontario Province in Canada.

There is folklore about a giant serpent nicknamed Bessie that was once sighted in the lake centuries ago. However, while that tale cannot be verified, there have been common sightings of snakes in the large lake. The most abundant snake species in the lake is the Lake Erie watersnake which is approaching about 12,000 in population.

4. Oneida Lake

Oneida is the largest lake to exist within New York’s bounds.


Oneida Lake might not be one of the most popular lakes in the United States, but it is the largest lake that solely exists within New York, and has a surface area of 79.8 square miles. The lake is often called the thumb of the Finger Lakes, a group of 11 narrow lakes south of Lake Ontario.   

Oneida Lake has an average depth of about 22 feet, but despite its depth, it still has snake-sightings. According to news reports, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake is often found in the Oneida Lake Swamp area. Northern watersnakes have also been known to swim in the lake.

5. Canopus Lake

canopus lake
Northern watersnakes and black rat snakes are commonly found in Canopus Lake.

©Daniel Case / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Canopus Lake is a man made lake located in Northern Putnam County. The 66-acre lake is used for swimming and boating, among other water activities. The freshwater lake freezes over in the winter, and its surface is used as a trail for skiing.

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Canopus Lake is not only known for its abundance of bluegills and largemouth bass but also for its snakes. According to the New York State Parks, northern watersnakes and black rat snakes are commonly found in the lake. Due to the snake population in the lake area, there have been incidents of snake bites in the region.

6. Lake George

Lake George, the Queen of American Lakes, is believed to have about 10 snake species.

© Bielko

Lake George, also known as the Queen of American Lakes, is a narrow lake located at the base of the Adirondack Mountains. The New York Lake is about 32 miles long and has an average depth of 70 feet. According to reports, 10 species of snakes were documented in and around Lake George during the New York State Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project between 1990 and 1999. Some documented snakes are the common garter, northern redbelly, and black racer snakes.

The timber rattlesnake, the most venomous snake in New York, can also be found in and around the lake. Other dangerous animals to look out for are leeches and black bears.

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