LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

Donate today
and support the community of caretakers.
about rare plants, animals, and natural communities.
a plant or non-game animal. [exit DNR]
Contact information
For information on Snake Fungal Disease, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation biologist

Snake fungal disease (SFD)

Northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon) with crusty and thickened scales overlaying raised blisters as a result of a fungal skin infection, captured from island in western Lake Erie, Ohio, in August 2009 (case 22747). Photograph by D.E. Green, USGS National Wildlife Health Center.

Since 2008 and 2009, individual eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) and timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) accross their range, have been found with an often fatal fungal dermatitis disease. In Wisconsin, the first reports of clinical signs of this fungal disease were discovered in 2011 and confirmed via biopsy in 2013. The keratinophilic fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola has been identified in biopsies and swabs of active dermal lesions from nearly all of these snakes. In 2014, Wisconsin along with seven other states began a two-year study to identify the extent and impacts of SFD on Species of Greatest Conservation Need snakes, monitor infected snakes and determine if Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola is the sole pathogen or is acting in conjunction with other pathogens. Through this work, SFD has been confirmed in timber rattlesnakes, eastern massasauga rattlesnake and eastern foxsnakes from seven counties in Wisconsin, and is suspected of occurring in several other snake species and many additional counties (see map [PDF]). Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola was recently confirmed as the primary pathogen in SFD cases (Lorch et al. 2015).

Much is still unknown about SFD and therefore several groups have developed FAQs:

Report a snake with signs of this disease

Citizens, researchers and biologists are encouraged to report all snakes with signs of this disease. If you see an infected animal, please note the following:

  • date;
  • exact location;
  • species;
  • symptoms; and
  • photographs of lesions, bumps or scabs.

Help monitor the health of Wisconsin’s wildlife by reporting your sightings of sick or dead snakes to your local DNR office or Email the Wisconsin DNR.

Submit a snake for testing

Follow these steps to submit a snake for diagnostic evaluation to confirm infection. Samples for diagnostic testing are accepted on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Email the Wisconsin DNR for referral to the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC)
  2. After corresponding with the DNR and prior to submitting samples, email the NWHC

Lorch JM, Lankton J, Werner K, Falendysz EA, McCurley K, Blehert DS. 2015. Experimental infection of snakes with Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola causes pathological changes that typify snake fungal disease. mBio 6(6):e01534-15. doi:10.1128/mBio.01534-15.

Last revised: Tuesday March 26 2019