I want to say this first.
You should never kill a rattlesnake, unless you have no other choice.
They perform a vital function in the ecosystem and they do not mean us any harm anyway.
They fear us and do everything they can to avoid us. They only strike if threatened.
In addition, killing a rattlesnake could land you in serious hot water.
Is it illegal to kill a rattlesnake then?
It may be. It may also be perfectly legal. It depends on a number of factors. Keep reading to learn all about the legality of killing rattlesnakes in the United States.
Table of Contents
- 1 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes?
- 1.1 Snakes That Are Endangered
- 1.2 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Texas?
- 1.3 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Florida?
- 1.4 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In California?
- 1.5 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Colorado?
- 1.6 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Idaho?
- 1.7 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Connecticut?
- 1.8 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Illinois?
- 1.9 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Indiana?
- 1.10 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Iowa?
- 1.11 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Massachusetts?
- 1.12 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Michigan?
- 1.13 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Minnesota?
- 1.14 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Nevada?
- 1.15 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In New Mexico?
- 1.16 Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Virginia?
- 2 Is It Legal To Kill A Rattlesnake: Final Thoughts
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes?
Whether it is illegal to kill rattlesnakes depends on where you live. Overall, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 made it illegal to kill any snakes that have been registered as endangered.
Any rattlesnakes that are listed as endangered are thus off limits. As for non-endangered snakes, it very much depends on your state. Let’s first take a look at snakes listed as endangered, before getting into some specifics for individual states.
Snakes That Are Endangered
There are a number of snakes on the Endangered Species List. You should avoid killing these all costs, unless your life or another person’s life is threatened.
Snakes on the Endangered Species List include Indigo snakes, Louisiana pine snakes, Lake Erie snakes, Garter snakes, and eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes.
If you kill any of these snake species, you could face a hefty fine of up to $50,000, or even a year in prison. And that is definitely something you want to avoid.
Because Massasauga rattlesnakes are endangered and thus protected federally, you face a fine or prison sentence if you kill this snake species anywhere in the US. It is home to several states, including Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Ohio .
Now, let us take a look at individual states with rattlesnake populations and see what the legal situation is in each one. Rattlesnakes occupy many states and certain species can be listed as endangered on a state level.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Texas?
In Texas, the Timber rattlesnake is on the state’s endangered species list. This means you are not allowed to kill it, even though it is one of the most dangerous snakes in Texas. Other species that are not protected are fair game, if you have a hunting license. You can also kill them if they threaten you.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Florida?
In Florida, some snake species are protected by state law, but none of them are rattlesnakes. As a result, it is legal to kill rattlesnake.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In California?
In California, the red diamond rattlesnake is protected by law, but if you come across any other species of rattlesnake, you can legally capture or kill it. Of course, that does not mean you should.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Colorado?
The law in Colorado is a little more lenient than most other states. You can kill any species of rattlesnake if it is a threat to you or your property. You will, however, need to be careful about the method you use to kill the rattlesnake. It is illegal to shoot them.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Idaho?
Similar to Colorado, in Idaho, you can kill a rattlesnake if it threatens you or your property.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Connecticut?
The state of Connecticut is home to the timber rattlesnake, which is on the state’s endangered species list, making it illegal to kill them. As part of the Connecticut Endangered Species Act of 1989, if you kill a timber rattlesnake, it could result in legal action against you.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Illinois?
You’ll find two species of rattlesnake in Illinois: the Massasauga rattlesnake and the timber rattlesnake. It is only illegal to kill the Massasauga rattlesnake, because it is protected under the Endangered Species Act. You are allowed to kill the timber rattlesnake, if it threatens you or comes onto your property.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Indiana?
You will also find the Massasauga rattlesnake in Indiana, so leave that one alone. As for other species, it is illegal to hunt or kill any rattlesnake without a permit. Unless you qualify for one of those, you should not kill any species of snake.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Iowa?
In Iowa, it is also an offence to kill a Massasauga rattlesnake. You can only kill a timber rattlesnake, if it is within 50 yards of your home.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Massachusetts?
Under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, you should not kill, harass or capture a timber rattlesnake in that state.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Michigan?
As in all other states, you should not kill the Massasauga rattlesnake in Michigan, since it is also protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Minnesota?
Both the timber and Massasauga rattlesnake are protected under state law in Minnesota. The state does not consider them a pest or nuisance species, so you should refrain from killing them, unless you want to face prosecution.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Nevada?
Nevada is much more relaxed than other states. The only venomous snakes in the state are rattlesnakes, and if one comes near and threatens you, you can kill it to save yourself.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In New Mexico?
New Mexico protects the ridge nosed rattlesnake under state law. It is on their endangered species list, making it illegal for you to kill these snakes, even if you come into contact with one. If you stumble on one, do not attempt to kill it. Make small movements away from the snake.
Is It Illegal To Kill Rattlesnakes In Virginia?
The only species of rattlesnake in Virginia is the Timber rattlesnake, which is protected. In fact, it is illegal to kill any snakes in Virginia, unless it is on your property and it poses a threat.
Is It Legal To Kill A Rattlesnake: Final Thoughts
It is always best to avoid killing any rattlesnakes, if at all possible. They hold a vital role in the ecosystem and there is no good reason to kill them, unless one threatens you. Even then, it is best to leave it alone, if you can.
The other problem is that some rattlesnakes are protected under the Endangered Species Acts of some states (and one under the Federal act), so there is also the risk you end up killing the wrong snake and face a steep fine. Or possibly even jail time.
Then there are also a number of snakes that look like rattlesnakes. Some of these are often killed because they are mistaken for a rattler. Luckily for the person killing them, it is sometimes not illegal to kill the mimic, while it would have been to kill the actual rattlesnake. Not lucky for the harmless look-alike. though.