The 33 Types of SNAKES That Live in Louisiana! (ID Guide)

There are A LOT of snakes in Louisiana!

Common Snakes in Louisiana

 

And what’s interesting is that they are all incredibly unique and have adapted to fill many habitats and niches.

 

You’ll see that the snakes that live in Louisiana are very different from each other.

 

For example, some species are venomous, while others use constriction to immobilize their prey. Or the fact that certain snakes are rarely seen because they spend most of their time underground, but others are comfortable living EXTREMELY close to humans.

 

Today, you’re going to learn about the 33 types of snakes in Louisiana!

 

Also, if you enjoy this article, make sure to check out these other Louisiana guides!

 


#1. Eastern Copperhead

  • Agkistrodon contortrix

Types of Snakes found in Louisiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach lengths between 20 and 37 inches.
  • Stout body, broad head, and elliptical pupils.
  • Coloration varies from pale tan to pinkish-tan with darker, splotchy, hourglass-shaped bands, which are darker at the edges.

 

Look for these VENOMOUS snakes in Louisiana in deciduous forests and mixed woodlands, often near rocky outcroppings. You’re more likely to see them active during the day in the spring and fall when the weather is cooler. During the middle of summer, Eastern Copperheads are often nocturnal.

Eastern Copperhead Range Map

copperhead range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

This species is an ambush hunter, meaning that it selects a suitable site and waits to surprise its prey. In addition, copperheads are considered “pit vipers,” which means they have a heat-sensing organ located between their eyes. This adaptation helps these venomous snakes find and judge the size of their prey by being able to sense infrared!

 

Bites from these snakes are rarely fatal in Louisiana.

 

The venom they produce has relatively low potency. In addition, copperheads also frequently employ false strikes, dry bites, and warning bites. Dry bites contain no venom, and warning bites have a relatively small amount of venom.

 

These snakes primarily feed on small rodents, frogs, birds, and large insects such as cicadas. After the initial bite, they will wait for the venom to take effect before consuming their prey whole.

 


#2. Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus adamanteus

Snakes species that live in Louisiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 3 to 6 feet long!
  • Coloration is a mixture of browns, yellows, grays, or olive. Look for the distinctive diamonds that run down their back.
  • A black band covers the eyes, which have vertical, cat-like pupils. A pit between the eye and nostril is present on each side, and adults have a distinctive rattle.

 

This species is the longest, heaviest VENOMOUS snake in Louisiana!

 

Some impressive individuals have even grown up to 8 feet long. They prefer relatively dry habitats but can also be spotted around the borders of wetlands and in wet prairies and savannas. The best time to look for these rattlesnakes is during the morning and evening, as this is when they are most active.

Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake Range Mapeastern diamond back rattlesnake

These impressive venomous snakes can strike as far as two-thirds of their body length, meaning a six-foot individual can reach prey four feet away! When attacking, they inject their prey, which includes mice, rabbits, and squirrels, with venom. Once their victim is bitten, they release it and track it to the place it has died to consume it.

 

As you may have guessed, Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnakes typically issue a warning with their rattle when threatened. If you hear this sound, back away and move along, or you risk being bitten. LISTEN BELOW!

 

 

Interestingly, young snakes don’t have a rattle; as it grows as they get older. Each time an individual sheds their skin, a new section is added (though sections do commonly break off).

 


#3. Timber Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus horridus

Common Snakes species in Louisiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 30 to 60 inches in length.
  • Coloration is variable and generally ranges from yellowish-brown to gray to almost black. Look for dark brown or black crossbands on their back.
  • Heavy-bodied with characteristic rattle on the tail.

 

The Timber Rattlesnake, also known as the Canebrake Rattlesnake, is found in a wide variety of habitats in Louisiana. Look for these venomous snakes in lowland thickets, high areas around rivers and flood plains, agricultural areas, deciduous forests, and coniferous forests.

Timber Rattlesnake Range Map

timber rattlesnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes are ambush predators, waiting for unsuspecting prey to come within range of their strike. They feed primarily on small mammals but may also consume frogs, birds, and other smaller snakes. Timber Rattlesnakes strike their prey and release them, waiting until their venom has taken effect before eating them.

 

These venomous snakes are potentially the most dangerous species found in Louisiana due to their large size, long fangs, and high venom yield. Luckily, Timber Rattlesnakes have a mild disposition and don’t bite often. They typically give plenty of warning by rattling and posturing.

 

The Timber Rattlesnake played a noteworthy role in U.S. history. Found in the original 13 colonies, it was used as a symbol during the American Revolution. In 1775 it was featured at the center of the “Gadsden Flag.” This yellow flag depicts a coiled and ready-to-strike Timber Rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.”

 


#4. Midland Water Snake

  • Nerodia sipedon pleuralis

Louisiana Snakes species

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 50 inches in length.
  • Typically light gray in color, but some individuals are reddish.
  • Near the head, they have dark crossbands. As you move down the snake, the crossbands are replaced by dark squarish blotches.

 

This snake is only found in southeast Louisiana!

 

Midland Water Snakes prefer slow-moving or standing water such as ponds, lakes, vernal pools, marshes, and slow-moving rivers and streams. They’re most often seen basking on rocks or logs in or near the water.

 

Common Water Snake Range Map (Midland Water Snakes are subspecies!)

common watersnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

While non-venomous, they can deliver a painful bite!

 

Their saliva contains a mild anticoagulant that can cause bites to bleed, making the injury appear worse. These important defense mechanisms help water snakes survive predators such as raccoons, snapping turtles, foxes, opossums, other snakes, and birds of prey.

 

Midland Water Snake populations are considered to be stable in Louisiana. However, like many other water snakes, this species faces habitat loss and degradation. Unfortunately, they are also commonly killed by people out of fear.

 


#5. Plain-bellied Watersnake

  • Nerodia erythrogaster

Kinds of Snakes in Louisiana


Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults have thick bodies and range from 24 to 40 inches in length.
  • Solid coloration of gray, brown, olive, or black.
  • As the name suggests, they have a plain unmarked underside varying from red to yellow.
  • Also called Redbelly, Yellowbelly, Copperbelly, or Blotched Watersnake.

 

The Plain-bellied Watersnake can be found near various water sources, including rivers, floodplains, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. This species spends an unusual amount of time on land compared with other water snakes found in Louisiana. Especially during hot, humid weather, they can be found in woodlands quite far from a water source.

 

Plain-bellied Watersnake Range Map

plain bellied watersnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

They feed on BOTH aquatic and terrestrial prey, including crayfish, fish, salamanders, frogs, and other amphibians. Another unusual feature of this species is that they will sit and wait to ambush their prey, especially on land. Almost all other water snakes actively hunt and chase their victims!

 

If captured, they release a foul-smelling musk and are not afraid to bite! Plain-bellied Watersnakes are eaten by largemouth bass, egrets, hawks, and sometimes other larger snakes.

 


#6. Northern Cottonmouth

  • Agkistrodon piscivorus

Types of Snakes that live in Louisiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 26 to 35 inches in length. Females are typically smaller than males.
  • Most individuals are dark gray to black with a broad head, heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils, elliptical pupils, and a blunt snout.
  • Some individuals have a brown, gray, tan, or blackish coloration.
  • Also commonly called Water Moccasins, Black Moccasins, or Gapers.

 

Cottonmouths are the ONLY venomous water snake in Louisiana.

 

Be on the lookout for these snakes near swamps, marshes, ponds, and slow-moving streams and rivers, as well as flooded fields and drainage ditches. But they aren’t limited to just aquatic habitats. Cottonmouths can also be found in palmetto thickets, pine forests, dune areas, and prairies.

Northern Cottonmouth Range Map

cottonmouth range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These water snakes have several defensive tactics to warn potential threats to stay away! They often vibrate their tail in the leaf litter, pull their heads up and back, and then open their mouth to hiss and expose a white interior. This particular display is what earned them the name “cottonmouth.

 

Since they are venomous, please use extra caution if you come across an unknown water snake. Quite a few species look similar, especially if you just get a glance as one moves across the water.

 

Luckily, receiving a bite from a Northern Cottonmouth is rare. But when it does happen, it’s very serious as their venom destroys tissue. It is rare to die from their bite, but it does cause swelling and bruising and can leave scars.

 


#7. Southern Watersnake

  • Nerodia fasciata

Common Louisiana Snakes

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is typically gray, greenish-gray, or brown with darker cross bands. However, some individuals may be so dark that the bands are barely distinguishable.
  • Flat heads and heavy bodies.
  • Also commonly called the Broad-banded Watersnake.

 

The Southern Watersnake is found in Louisiana near most freshwater sources within their range. Look for them everywhere, including lakes, ponds, rivers, marshes, swamps, wetlands, and streams. They’re often spotted on branches overhanging the water, sunning themselves.

Southern Watersnake Range Map

southern or banded watersnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

These snakes are primarily nocturnal and spend much of their time hunting along the shoreline for frogs and small fish. Like other watersnakes, they quickly grab their prey and swallow it alive.

 

Southern Watersnakes are docile and non-venomous. But when they are captured or grabbed, they will flatten their heads, release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the tip of their tail, and may bite. Unfortunately, they are sometimes killed because they are mistaken for the venomous cottonmouth.

 


#8. Diamond-backed Watersnake

  • Nerodia rhombifer

diamondbacked watersnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 30 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is brown, dark brown, yellowish, or olive green. Look for a dark chain-like pattern down the back.
  • Thick body with a yellow belly that has dark half-moons.

 

The Diamond-backed Watersnake can be found in Louisiana in a variety of freshwater habitats. They generally prefer slow-moving bodies of water with overhanging vegetation such as ponds, swamps, slow rivers, and streams.

 

These snakes are common in their range and can be spotted on overhanging branches looking for prey, which mainly include frogs and fish. Once they grab their target, they haul it to shore and wait for it to die before consuming it. This behavior is unique as most other water snakes consume their prey alive.

Diamond-backed Watersnake Range Map

diamond backed watersnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

 

When disturbed, Diamond-backed Watersnakes will quickly flee into the water and dive below the surface to swim away. If captured, they will bite and release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tail.

 

They are relatively common and aren’t considered a threatened species. Unfortunately, they are sometimes killed out of ignorance. People often mistake them for venomous cottonmouths and rattlesnakes.

 


#9. Graham’s Crayfish Snake

  • Regina grahamii

grahams crayfish snake range map

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 18 to 28 inches in length.
  • Coloration is a dull brown, yellowish-brown, or gray.
  • Look for yellowish-tan stripes down the sides and sometimes a faint tan stripe down the middle of the back.

 

This water snake is rather reclusive and hard to find in Louisiana.

 

Look for Graham’s Crayfish Snakes in slow-moving bodies of water such as ponds, prairie streams, marshes, and roadside ditches. They prefer areas with abundant vegetation, rocks, logs, and other debris along the water’s edge, which allows them to hide from predators. They are commonly seen basking on branches overhanging the water.

Graham’s Crayfish Snake Range Map

graham's crayfish snake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

 

As the name suggests, Graham’s Crayfish Snakes primarily feed on crayfish. They hunt exclusively for individuals that recently molted and temporarily have soft bodies. However, they’ll also prey on fish and amphibians, including tadpoles and frogs.

 

Like many other water snakes, this species is often mistaken for cottonmouths and killed, even though they are MUCH smaller.

 


#10. Glossy Swampsnake

  • Liodytes rigida

glossy swampsnake or crayfish snake -

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 14 to 24 inches in length.
  • Coloration is a glossy brownish to olive with yellow lip scales. Sometimes two dark or black stripes run down the back.
  • The underside is yellow with two rows of black half-moons or dots.

 

Glossy Swampsnakes inhabit and rarely leave slow-moving waterways such as cypress swamps, roadside ditches, ponds, lakes, marshes, streams, and rivers. These water snakes are quite secretive and often hide under logs and debris near the water or inside crayfish burrows. Your best chance to see one might be on roadways during or after heavy rain.

Glossy Swampsnake Range Map

glossy swampsnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

 

These nocturnal snakes primarily feed on crayfish. They don’t constrict their prey but use their coils to help hold it while swallowing it alive, typically tail-first. Their small, chisel-shaped teeth allow them to consume hard-shelled crayfish.

 

When disturbed, Glossy Swampsnakes quickly flee into the water and dive to the bottom. If cornered, they may flatten themselves and release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tail. If picked up, they may hiss and feign striking but rarely bite.

 

Due to their highly secretive nature, little is known about the population status of these water snakes in Louisiana. But their dependence on aquatic habitats and crayfish may subject them to decline due to habitat loss and degradation.

 


#11. Eastern Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

eastern garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 18 to 26 inches in length.
  • Coloration varies and can be mixtures of green, brown, or black. Look for a distinct yellow or whitish stripe down the center of their back.
  • Some individuals may exhibit a checkered body pattern.
  • Subspecies of the Common Garter Snake.

 

Eastern Garter Snakes are common and easy to locate in Louisiana!

 

In fact, they are typically the snake species that people come across the most. They’re well-adapted to living around people and can often be found in city parks, farmland, cemeteries, and suburban lawns and gardens. Though not required, they prefer grassy environments near freshwater sources such as ponds, lakes, ditches, and streams.

eastern garter snake range map

Look for these snakes in Louisiana basking in the sun in grassy areas near cover.

 

Eastern Garter Snakes protect themselves when they are cornered or feel threatened. For example, if you capture or continually disturb one, it will defecate and release a foul-smelling musk from its glands. It’s also common for them to bite as a last resort!

 

The Eastern Garter Snake most commonly preys on toads, frogs, slugs, salamanders, fish, and worms. However, they are very opportunistic and will eat other insects and small animals they can overpower. They’re active during both the day and night, depending on the temperature.

 


#12. Western Ribbon Snake

  • Thamnophis proximus

western ribbon snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 17 to 50 inches in length. A slender snake with a long tail!
  • Coloration is blackish, brown, or olive with three light-colored stripes; one down the back and one down each side.
  • The sides and top of the head are dark, and the upper lip is whitish.

 

Did you see a slender snake in Louisiana with a long tail?

 

If so, it was probably a Western Ribbon Snake! This semi-aquatic species is rarely found far from a water source. They typically occupy brush-heavy areas around streams, lakes, ponds, and other water bodies. You may also spot them basking on rocks, flat vegetation, and dry sandy areas near water.

 

western ribbon snake range map

 

The Western Ribbon Snake has an incredible, unique hunting technique. As they move over land, they make quick, light thrusts of their head and upper body in different directions in sequences of three. It’s similar to a strike, but with their mouth closed. This action disturbs resting frogs, which alerts the garter snake to their location. From there, this snake uses its superior speed to catch its prey.

 

When they feel threatened, they flee into the water or hide in thick brush. Their coloration provides superb camouflage in dense, brushier areas. If grabbed, Western Ribbon Snakes rarely bite but will thrash around, defecate, and release musk from their anal glands. This species can also shed its tail to escape, but unfortunately, it doesn’t regenerate like some lizard species.

 


#13. Eastern Milksnake

  • Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum

eastern milksnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 24 to 36 inches in length.
  • Coloration is tan or gray with 3 to 5 rows of reddish-brown, black-edged blotches.
  • Look for a gray or tan Y- or V-shaped mark near the rear of the head.

 

Eastern Milksnakes get their unique name from an old myth that they milked cows since they’re commonly found in barns! Obviously, this isn’t true. Instead, their presence inside barns is likely due to the high number of mice, some of their favorite prey.

Eastern Milksnake Range Map

eastern milksnake range map

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

A member of the kingsnake family, Eastern Milksnakes occupy a wide variety of habitats in northeast Louisiana, including fields, woodlands, agricultural areas, and rocky outcrops. These beautiful snakes are somewhat secretive and spend much of their time beneath the ground. You may be able to find one underneath rocks, logs, boards, and other debris.

 

The Eastern Milksnake prefers to feed on small mammals such as mice and shrews. However, they’ll also consume various types of prey, including birds and bird eggs, lizards, snakes, amphibians, fish, earthworms, slugs, insects, and carrion.

 

Like other individuals in the kingsnake family, they will prey on venomous pit vipers. So how do they combat the venom? Interestingly, their blood contains venom-neutralizing properties!

 


#14. Prairie Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster

prairie kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 30 to 40 inches in length.
  • Coloration is typically gray or light brown with darker gray, brown, or reddish-brown blotching, sometimes outlined in black, down the length of their body that fades with age.
  • They have a pale or yellowish underside, and their head is indistinct from their body.
  • The Prairie Kingsnake is a subspecies of the Yellow-bellied Kingsnake.

 

Look for Prairie Kingsnakes in Louisiana in open habitats, such as fields, farmland, rocky hillsides, and open woodlands. They spend most of their time underground and are found under rocks, logs, and old animal burrows throughout their active period and winter hibernation.

 

Prairie Kingsnake Range Map

prairie and northern mole kingsnake

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes feed on a wide variety of prey, like mice, lizards, other snakes (including other Prairie Kingsnakes), insects, birds, bird eggs, and amphibians. They constrict their prey, coiling around and suffocating it before consuming.

 

If disturbed, the Prairie Kingsnake may try to warn perceived threats by mimicking a rattlesnake. They accomplish this mimicry by shaking the tip of their tail in dry leaf litter. However, these snakes are non-venomous and don’t typically bite, but they will release a foul-smelling musk if grabbed!

 

This species is considered of least concern and doesn’t seem to face any significant conservation risks. However, they’re sometimes run over when crossing roads or killed because they are mistaken for being venomous. Like many other kingsnakes, this species is sometimes kept as pets.

 


#15. Speckled Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis holbrooki

speckled kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically 36 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is shiny black with small yellow, yellowish-green, or white specks, one in the center of almost every dorsal scale though the pattern of the speckles varies by individual.
  • The underside is white or yellow with clusters of black checkers and is sometimes more black than white.

 

The Speckled Kingsnake’s unique appearance resulted in the nickname “salt and pepper snake.” Look for them in fields along the forest’s edge, prairies, grasslands, stream valleys, pastures, and roadside ditches.

Speckled Kingsnake Range Map

speckled kingsnake range map

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes are rather secretive and hard to find in Louisiana!

 

In addition, they’re primarily nocturnal. As a result, they’re most frequently spotted crossing roadways in the morning or evening.

 

Like other kingsnakes, this species is a constrictor, which means they use their coils to asphyxiate their prey before consuming it. They feed on a wide variety of prey, including rodents, birds, bird eggs, reptiles, reptile eggs, frogs, and other snakes, including venomous species. SEE THE VIDEO BELOW! 🙂

 

Speckled Kingsnakes are generally quite docile and are often kept as pets. However, if disturbed, they may shake their tail, release a foul-smelling musk, and strike if grabbed. Sadly this species is considered threatened in parts of their range.

 


#16. Eastern Black Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis nigra

 

eastern black kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 35 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is black with white, cream, or yellow speckles, larger and more numerous on the sides.
  • Stocky body, head indistinct from the neck, and a yellow or cream underside with black checkering.
  • Also frequently referred to as just “Black Kingsnake.”

 

Eastern Black Kingsnakes occupy various habitats in eastern Louisiana.

 

They can be found in forests, agricultural lands, thick brush around streams and swamps, floodplain and wetland edges, and even suburban areas!

Eastern Black Kingsnake Range Map

eastern black kingsnake range map

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes are very secretive, and they often seek shelter under logs and other debris. They’re primarily active during the daytime but are most active in the morning during the summer.

 

Being constrictors, Eastern Black Kingsnakes use their strong coils to asphyxiate their prey. They frequently prey on lizards, rodents, birds, turtle eggs, and other snakes, including venomous pit vipers.

 

Though they’re non-venomous, these snakes may shake their tails if disturbed. In dry leaves, the noise sounds like a rattlesnake! If handled, they may also release a foul-smelling musk and strike.

 


#17. Scarlet Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis elapsoides

scarlet king snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 14 to 20 inches in length.
  • Coloration is alternating red, black, and yellow rings encircling the body; the yellow and red rings never touch.
  • Small head, barely distinct from the neck and a red snout.

 

Scarlet Kingsnakes are found in pine flat woods, pine-oak forests, fields, agricultural areas, and occasionally urban environments. But they’re hard to see because they’re secretive and mostly stay underground. Look for them under logs, rocks, boards, and other debris. However, they’re also excellent climbers and are sometimes spotted on trees and buildings.

Scarlet Kingsnake Range Map

scarlet kingsnake range map

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These vividly colored, non-venomous snakes are sometimes mistaken for venomous coral snakes. In fact, they were used as stand-ins for venomous snakes in the movies “Snakes on a Plane” and “The Mummy Returns.”

 

So how do you tell the difference between a dangerous coral snake and a harmless Scarlet Kingsnake in Louisiana?

coral snake vs scarlet snake

Just remember this rhyme, and you’ll never have to worry! “If red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow; if red touches black, you’re all right, Jack.”

 

These snakes are generally non-aggressive. However, they may vibrate their tail if disturbed, producing a buzzing sound when in leaf litter. If grabbed, they may strike and release a foul-smelling musk.

 


#18. Western Milksnake

  • Lampropeltis gentilis

 

western milksnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 15 to 34 inches in length.
  • Coloration is whitish, black, and reddish or orange bands, with the reddish-orange bands being bordered by black.
  • The snout is blackish and sometimes features white flecking, and the underside may have extensions of the bands or be more whitish.

 

Western Milksnakes are found in Louisiana in open sagebrush, grasslands and are occasionally seen in suburban areas. They’re a secretive species frequently found under objects like rocks, logs, boards, and other debris.

Western Milksnake Range Map

western milksnake range map

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

Because of their coloration, they are often confused with venomous coral snakes. But luckily, there’s an easy way to tell the difference. Just remember this rhyme:

 

“If red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow; if red touches black, you’re all right, Jack.”

coral snake vs western milksnake

 

These snakes aren’t picky about food and feed on small mammals, birds, bird eggs, other snakes, lizards, reptile eggs, and occasionally, worms and insects. They actively hunt down their prey and use their coils to constrict the life out of them.

 

Though they’re usually docile when handled, Western Milksnakes do exhibit strong defensive behaviors when disturbed. You can expect them to vibrate their tail (like a rattlesnake), and they may even rear up and strike!

 


#19. Red Cornsnake

  • Pantherophis guttatus

red cornsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 72 inches in length.
  • Coloration is orangish-brown with black-bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches and a spear-shaped pattern on the head and neck.
  • The underside usually has a black and white checkerboard pattern which may have some orange.

 

Cornsnakes got their name because of their frequent presence near corn storage areas due to an abundance of rodents that also hang out at these locations. However, some sources maintain that they were named for the pattern on their underside, which sometimes looks like kernels of bi-color corn.

red cornsnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

Red Cornsnakes occupy various habitats in eastern Louisiana, including overgrown fields, pinelands, swamps, and agricultural areas. They are sometimes found in suburban areas near other favorable habitats. Make sure you don’t only look on the ground, as they’re known to ascend trees, cliffs, and other elevated surfaces.

 

Red Cornsnakes prey on rodents, lizards, frogs, and birds and their eggs. These snakes are constrictors that squeeze and asphyxiate larger prey, but small prey may be swallowed whole without constriction.

 

These snakes are generally quite docile and are the second most popular pet snake (behind Ball Pythons) worldwide. However, if disturbed in the wild, they may vibrate their tail and lift the front of their body into an S-shape to appear more threatening. If grabbed or pinned, it’s not out of the question for them to bite their attacker, but they typically calm down quickly when being held.

 


#20. Western Ratsnake

  • Pantherophis obsoletus

western rat snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 42 to 72 inches in length though individuals up to 101 inches have been recorded.
  • Coloration varies. Adults can be completely black to gray to pale brown to yellowish with black, brown, or gray blotches.
  • Also commonly called the Texas Ratsnake!

 

Western Ratsnakes occupy various habitats in Louisiana, including agricultural areas, dense woodlands, forested river valleys, and rocky hillsides. They’re excellent climbers and are found often in trees and will frequently use cavities in trees for shelter.

western rat snake range map

Western Ratsnakes are active hunters and constrictors preying on small mammals, nestling birds, bird eggs, tree frogs, and lizards. They suffocate larger prey with their coils but often swallow smaller prey without constriction.

 

When disturbed, these snakes often freeze to avoid detection. If harassed, they’ll raise their heads and vibrate their tails to mimic a rattlesnake. And if they continue to be provoked or grabbed, they’ll strike their attacker as a last defense.

 


#21. Scarletsnake

  • Cemophora coccinea

scarlet snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 14 to 26 inches in length.
  • Coloration is red with light gray, yellowish, or white bands with black borders.
  • Small, pointed red head with a light-colored band behind the eyes and light gray or white underside.

 

These beautiful snakes are commonly found in Louisiana in pine flat woods, dry prairies, hardwood hammocks, sandhills, and open woodlands. They are burrowers and prefer areas with loose, sandy soil, leaf litter, logs, and other material they can easily hide beneath.

scarlet snake range map

There are THREE subspecies of Scarletsnake, and they all look similar. You would need to be a trained herpetologist to tell the difference!

 

The Scarletsnake is non-venomous, but it’s sometimes confused with venomous coral snakes. An easy way to tell the difference between the two species is to remember the rhyme, “Red touches yellow, kill a fellow; red touches black, a friend of Jack.”

 

Incredibly docile, these snakes rarely bite even when picked up by humans. But even though they’re common throughout their range, it’s rare to actually see one. Scarletsnakes are very secretive and spend most of their time hidden.

 


#22. Rough Greensnake

  • Opheodrys aestivus

rough green snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 22 to 36 inches in length.
  • Coloration is bright green with a yellow or whitish underside.
  • SLENDER bodies and large eyes.
  • Also commonly called a Grass Snake.

 

This species is hard to mistake for any other snake in Louisiana!

 

Their bright green color makes for excellent camouflage against the foliage. They’re highly arboreal and spend much of their time climbing in low vegetation. Look for them coiled and sleeping in shrubs, tangles of vines, or other thick vegetation, especially if it’s near water.

rough green snake range map

When disturbed, Rough Greensnakes typically freeze and rely on their camouflage. They’re nonvenomous and generally very docile, seldom striking even if grabbed.

 

The Rough Greensnake is fairly common, but they do face several threats. They’re one of the most exploited pet snake species in North America. They’re also often killed on roads and face habitat loss, especially when small waterways are cleared of vegetation in developing areas.

 


#23. Southeastern Crowned Snake

  • Tantilla coronata

Southeastern Crown Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically 8 to 10 inches in length.
  • Coloration is solid grayish-brown or light brown. A black pointed head followed by a whitish or cream band and then a black collar.
  • Slender snake with a solid pink, yellow, or white underside.

 

These tiny snakes occupy damp or dry woodland habitats in eastern Louisiana.

 

They prefer areas with sandy, loose soils and plentiful organic matter and are skilled borrowers. In fact, they are rarely seen because they spend most of the day beneath the soil, rocks, logs, or organic debris! However, you may see them traveling on the surface at night.

crowned snake range map

Southeastern Crowned Snakes feed on small prey, including termites, worms, centipedes, spiders, and earth-dwelling insect larvae.

 

Interestingly, these snakes have small, chiseled fangs in the back of their jaw, which they use to inject venom into their prey. Luckily, the amount of venom is so small they are considered non-venomous when it comes to humans! And even when they are picked up, they generally don’t bite.

 


#24. Red-bellied Mudsnake

  • Farancia abacura

red bellied mud snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 40 to 54 inches in length.
  • Coloration is smooth, glossy black with a red and black checkered underside with the red extending up the sides, creating a triangle pattern.
  • The chin is heavily marked with black and usually yellow, creating a “zipper-like” appearance.

 

These semi-aquatic snakes are usually found in Louisiana near stagnant muddy waters of shallow streams, rivers, drainage ditches, canals, lakes, marshes, and swamps. They’re often spotted under water-soaked logs or other wet, organic debris and prefer habitats with dense vegetation and muddy bottoms and banks.

 

red bellied mudsnake range map

Red-bellied Mudsnakes are specialized hunters! Adult snakes feed almost exclusively on fully aquatic salamanders. They prey primarily on only two species, the Three-toed Amphiuma and the Lesser Siren.

 

These docile snakes don’t strike when disturbed or captured. Instead, if grabbed, they may press their harmless, blunt tail tip against their attacker, a behavior which has earned them the nicknames “horn snakes” and “stinging snakes” If continually handled, Red-bellied Mudsnakes may release a foul-smelling musk and go limp or play dead.

 

This species is incredibly secretive, and its status is poorly known in many areas.

 


#25. Rainbow Snake

  • Farancia erytrogramma

rainbow snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 27 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is smooth, glossy, iridescent bluish-black with three red stripes and yellow or pink lower sides.
  • A short tail that ends in a pointed, horny scale.

 

These beautiful snakes are highly aquatic and spend most of their lives in water. These powerful swimmers are commonly found in cypress swamps, marshes, blackwater creeks, lakes, slow-moving streams, tidal mudflats, and sandy coastal plains.

rainbow snake range map

Rainbow Snakes are nocturnal and primarily prey on eels, earning them the nickname “Eel Moccasin.” However, they may also eat frogs, tadpoles, and salamanders, and juveniles in particular feed on earthworms and tadpoles. Prey is eaten alive, typically swallowed headfirst.

 

If disturbed, these docile snakes may freeze or attempt to crawl away slowly. If grabbed, they don’t bite but may press the tip of their tail into the attacker and release foul-smelling musk from a pair of glands near the base of their tail.

 

The Rainbow Snake is considered a species of least concern. However, their secretive nature can make their populations hard to count. Degradation of aquatic habitats and any decline of eel populations could negatively impact them.

 


#26. Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

  • Heterodon platirhinos

eastern hog nosed snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 20 to 30 inches in length.
  • Coloration can be yellow, gray, brown, black, olive, or orange, often with darker blotches or spots down its side and back, though solid gray and black individuals are fairly common.
  • Thick-bodied, broad, triangle-shaped heads, and an upturned snout.

 

Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes prefer areas in Louisiana with sandy soil.

 

Here’s why:

 

Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes primarily prey on toads and use their upturned snout to dig for them in their burrows. They also have enlarged teeth at the rear of the upper jaw that they use to puncture and deflate toads that puff up when threatened. These snakes also have large adrenal glands, which secrete large amounts of hormones to counteract the toad’s potent skin poison!

eastern hog nosed snake range map

When disturbed, Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes lift their head off the ground and flatten their neck like a cobra! They may also hiss and false strike with a closed mouth.

 

If this display fails to scare off a predator, then the snake will play dead. They’ll roll onto their back, let their tongue hang out, and emit musk from glands near the base of their tail. Interestingly, when the threat has left, the snake will right itself and continue as normal. 🙂

 


#27. Dekay’s Brownsnake

  • Storeria dekayi

dekays brownsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 6 to 13 inches in length.
  • Coloration is light brown or gray to dark brown or black with two rows of dark spots down the back, which are sometimes linked.
  • A dark streak down the head and may have a light stripe down the center of the back.

 

Dekay’s Brownsnakes occupy various terrestrial habitats as long as there’s plenty of cover available such as rocks, logs, boards, and all sorts of trash and organic debris. They’re often found in backyards and gardens under objects.

 

dekays brownsnake range map

These secretive, nocturnal snakes hunt during the evening and night, feeding primarily on slugs and earthworms. However, they’ve also been known to consume snails, insects, insect larvae, small tree frogs, tadpoles, frog eggs, spiders, and fish. Prey is typically grabbed and quickly swallowed alive.

 

These docile snakes usually don’t bite in defense. Instead, if captured, they often squirm vigorously or flatten their bodies and may release foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tail.

 

This species is considered common in most of its range and is not a major conservation concern. It adapts well to human development and has a reputation as a “city snake.” However, pesticide usage and clean-up of cover objects may reduce their populations in urban areas by reducing their habitat and food source.

 


#28. Eastern Coral Snake

  • Micrurus fulvius

common venomous snakes in alabama

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Generally less than 30 inches in length.
  • Slender body with wide red and black bands separated by narrow yellow stripes.
  • Black head. Look for black specks in the red bands.

 

Sometimes called the Common Coral Snake, Coral Adder, or the American Cobra, this species is a highly venomous snake found in southeast Louisiana. They primarily feed on frogs, lizards, and other smaller snakes. A potent neurotoxin, their venom causes rapid paralysis and respiratory failure for their prey.

Rarely seen by humans, these snakes spend most of their time underground. Because of this fact, Eastern Coral Snakes rarely bite humans. When they do bite, the venom is seldom deadly when medical treatment is immediately sought.

 

coral snake vs scarlet snake - species of venomous snakes in alabama

Eastern Coral Snakes are sometimes confused with Scarlet Snakes and Scarlet King Snakes, both of which are entirely harmless. To help distinguish these species, you may use the following rhyme, Red next to black, safe from attack; red next to yellow, you’re a dead fellow.

 


#29. Texas Coral Snake

  • Micrurus tener

venomous snake species in Arkansas

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 20-30 inches in length.
  • Red and black banding with narrower bands of yellow in between.
  • Smooth scales and black-colored specks within red bands.

 

The Texas Coral Snake was once considered to be a subspecies of the Eastern Coral Snake. Although it looks similar and shares the same coloration, it is slightly longer and thicker than its eastern cousin.

These venomous snakes are rarely seen in Louisiana.

 

They are nocturnal and spend most of their time hiding underground or beneath leaf litter or rotting logs. Your best chance to see a Texas Coral Snake is on a warm rainy night when the temperature remains above 78°F.

 

This interesting snake feeds almost exclusively on other snakes, with Thread snakes being their most favorite victims, though skinks may also be consumed. Like other coral snakes, this species is venomous and has a potent neurotoxin that is used to immobilize and kill prey.

 


#30. Western Pygmy Rattlesnake

  • Sistrurus miliarius streckeri

western pigmy rattlesnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are small and range from 1 to 1.5 feet in length.
  • Pale gray or brown. Dark spots that are irregular in shape.
  • Thick body, dark bands that run from the corners of the eyes to the jaw, a small rattle prone to breaking, and elliptical pupils.
  • Western Pygmy Rattlesnakes are subspecies of the Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius).

 

This species is the smallest venomous snake found in Louisiana!

 

Western Pygmy Rattlesnakes occupy a wide variety of habitats. Naturally, they can be found in pine forests, dry upland forests, floodplains, sandhills, and near lakes, rivers, and marshes. They are often encountered in urban areas and may be seen in gardens and brush piles.

Pygmy Rattlesnake Range Mappygmy rattlesnake range map

These venomous snakes are rarely seen in Louisiana because they are so small and well camouflaged. When they are found, they typically remain silent and motionless and rely on blending into their environment.

 

It’s rare to hear them rattle. When they do, it sounds more like a faint insect and can be hard to hear unless you’re within a few feet of one.

 

Due to their small size, a bite typically isn’t fatal to healthy adults and is considered less severe than the bite of most other venomous snakes. But make no mistake, these snakes’ cytotoxic venom can cause pain and necrosis for a few days.

 


#31. Slowinski’s Corn Snake

  • Pantherophis slowinskii

slowinskis corn snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults may grow up to 72 inches.
  • Coloration is grayish-brown with large, alternating chocolate-brown blotches, which are often bordered in black.
  • Spear-shaped marking on the head, dark bar through the eye and down the jawline onto the neck.

 

Slowinski’s Corn Snake wasn’t recognized as a species until 2002!

 

They were long believed to be a hybrid of the Red Cornsnake and the Great Plains Ratsnake. The species was named for American herpetologist Joseph Bruno Slowinski.

slowinskis cornsnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

Slowinski’s Corn Snakes are hard to find in western Louisiana since they are nocturnal, highly secretive, and spend a lot of time in trees. Because of these facts, relatively little is known about their behavior, habitat, and population trends. So if you ever see one, consider yourself lucky!

 

These rat snakes are believed to do most of their hunting in trees and feed primarily on small mammals and birds. They’re constrictors like other ratsnake species, and they use a combination of ambush hunting and active foraging.

 


#32. Gulf Saltmarsh Watersnake

  • Nerodia clarkii clarkii

gulf saltmarsh watersnake

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range in length from 15 to 36 inches.
  • They typically have four longitudinal stripes down the body, including two lighter stripes and two darker stripes.
  • Subspecies of the Saltmarsh Watersnake.

 

You can find these snakes in Louisiana in coastal salt marshes, brackish estuaries, and tidal mudflats. As their name suggests, they aren’t typically found near freshwater. To hydrate, they usually rely on their prey for their water intake. However, they may also get freshwater from puddles when available.

Saltmarsh Watersnake Range Map

saltmarsh watersnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

Salt Marsh Snakes primarily feed on small fish, shrimp, crabs, and other aquatic invertebrates. They are opportunistic and often hunt creatures that are trapped in small puddles created by the outgoing tide. The best time to see one is at night, which is when they are primarily active to avoid predators such as egrets and herons. During the day, you could look for them in dense vegetation.

 

These docile water snakes are declining and at high risk in parts of their range. Habitat degradation with the development of coastal salt marshes has played a significant role in their decline. Unfortunately, they are also often killed because people confuse them with the venomous cottonmouth.

 


#33. Mississippi Green Watersnake

  • Nerodia cyclopion

mississippi green watersnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults have a thick body and range from 30 to 55 inches in length.
  • Coloration is dark-green, olive, or brown with a yellowish belly.
  • Some individuals have narrow, dark markings alternating down the back and sides.
  • Also called Green Watersnake.

 

The Mississippi Green Watersnake is found in Louisiana in or near calm, slow-moving bodies of water. Habitats include cypress swamps, sloughs, streams, lakes, ponds, and flooded woodlands. Look for them on branches above the water, where they’re often spotted basking in the sun.

Mississippi Green Watersnake Range Map

mississippi green watersnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

These water snakes are primarily nocturnal, and they spend their nights hunting along the banks or shore. They feed on fish, crayfish, frogs, and other freshwater amphibians. They overpower their prey by grabbing it in their jaws and quickly swallowing it alive.

 

If disturbed, Mississippi Green Watersnakes will typically attempt to flee by entering the water. Though they’re non-venomous, they’re quick to defend themselves. If you capture or grab one, you can expect them to deliver a few quick, repeated bites. Your hands may also get covered in a foul-smelling musk from a pair of glands near the base of the tail.

 


Do you need additional help identifying snakes in Louisiana?

 

Try this field guide!

 


Which of these SNAKES have you seen before in Louisiana?

 

Leave a comment below!

 

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