Reptiles of Indiana

By Morgan Owens
Copperheads are the most common venomous snake in Indiana.

Indiana is home to over 55 species of reptiles, including lizards, snakes and turtles. More species of snakes are present in the state than species of lizards and turtles combined. Indiana’s department of natural resources requires individuals 18 and older to have a valid hunting or fishing license if they wish to collect or keep any native reptiles.



Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtles can have a variety of patterns and are usually brown, yellow and black. They grow no more than 8 inches in length and can live 40 to 50 years. Eastern box turtles are protected under Indiana laws along with endangered species. Eastern box turtles and endangered species may not be collected, and if you have a pet box turtle you must either obtain a permit stating that it was legally acquired outside of the state. or you must have obtained a permit prior to January 1, 2005, stating that the turtle was in your possession prior to this law being enacted in 2005.

Softshell Turtles

There are two species of softshell turtle found in Indiana. They are the smooth softshell turtle and spiny softshell turtle. Softshell turtles can be readily distinguished by their shells, which are leathery rather than hard like the shells of the other turtles found in the state. Both are considered game species and are regulated by hunting and fishing regulations. These two turtles may be collected from the wild at any time, so long as the captor does not take more than 25 in a single day and does not have more than 50 in his possession at any one time.

Fence Lizard

Fence lizards are common throughout southern Indiana. They can frequently be found warming themselves on fences during late spring and throughout the summer. Their bodies are typically a reddish brown and adults have a distinctive blue throat. Males have colorful greenish or bluish bellies. They hibernate between November and April, during which time they are usually not seen.

Kirtland's Snake

The Kirtland’s snake is a small, nonvenomous snake that typically reaches 1 to 2 feet in length. It is an endangered species in the state of Indiana and can be found throughout the state. Its most distinguishing characteristic is its belly, which is reddish in color and bordered by black circular spots. They are frequently found in parks, on roadsides near ditches and creeks, and in urban areas by small bodies of water. They may be uncovered when rocks, wood or some other suitable hiding place is overturned. They feed on earthworms and slugs.

Northern Copperhead

Copperhead

The northern copperhead is a venomous species of snake common to the southern half of the state. According to the Indiana-Purdue University Center for Reptile and Amphibian Conservation and Management, it is the most common venomous snake in Indiana. It usually reaches 2 to 3 feet in length and can be identified by its stocky body and wide head. The snake’s body is copper colored and it has distinctive brown hourglass-shaped bands down the length of its back. The edges of these bands are considerably darker than their interiors.

About the Author

Morgan Owens has a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, and minors in biology and psychology. She attended Boston University and is currently applying to law school for matriculation in 2014. Her articles have been published on numerous informational websites.