The 26 Types of SNAKES That Live in Arkansas! (ID Guide)

There are A LOT of snakes in Arkansas!

Common Snakes in Arkansas

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 Arkansas 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 26 types of snakes in Arkansas!


#1. Eastern Copperhead

  • Agkistrodon contortrix

Types of Snakes found in Arkansas

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 Arkansas 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 Arkansas.

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. Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus atrox

Snakes species that live in Arkansas

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically grow to about 4 feet in length.
  • Coloration ranges from brown, gray, brick red, pinkish, and chalky white. Look for the darker diamond-shaped blotches down its back, outlined by white scales.
  • Broad, spade-shaped head with a black mask over the eyes. Elliptical pupils and pits between eyes and nostrils.
  • A rattle on the tail alternates between black and white-colored bands.

This famous VENOMOUS snake has a wide range of habitats in western Arkansas!

You might spot them in grassy plains, forested areas, rocky hillsides, and river bottoms. But your best chance to see one might be on a rural road in the evening because of the heat the pavement retains.

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake Range Map

western diamondback rattlesnake

The Western Diamond-backed feeds on small mammals such as squirrels, chipmunks, gophers, prairie dogs, rabbits, mice, and rats. They also consume birds that fly within reach. Like other pit vipers, they ambush their prey and track them while the venom takes effect.

When threatened, these snakes typically stand their ground. They rattle and coil, lifting themselves off the ground to prepare to strike.

If you hear their characteristic rattle, make sure to leave the area slowly! Due to their specialized fangs and large venom glands, these snakes can deliver a lot of venom in a single bite! Untreated bites have a 10 – 20% mortality rate, so make sure to get to the hospital quickly if struck!


#3. Timber Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus horridus

Common Snakes species in Arkansas

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 Arkansas. 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 Arkansas 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 Watersnake

  • Nerodia sipedon pleuralis

Arkansas 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 species is one of the most common water snakes in Arkansas!

Midland Watersnakes 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 Watersnake Range Map (Midland Watersnakes 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 Watersnake populations are considered to be stable in Arkansas. 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 Arkansas


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 Arkansas. 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. Queen Snake

  • Regina septemvittata

Types of Snakes that live in Arkansas

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are generally around 24 inches in length though individuals up to 36 inches have been reported.
  • Coloration is drab brown or olive green with two lighter stripes down the sides.
  • The underside is yellow or tan, with four dark stripes that run the length of their belly. No other similar species has this feature!

Queen Snakes prefer moving water and are generally found near streams and rivers with rocky bottoms. They have highly permeable skin, making them susceptible to evaporative water loss. As you can imagine, they are rarely spotted far from water.

Queen Snake Range Map

queensnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

Queen Snakes are considered less secretive than many other snakes in Arkansas.

They are primarily diurnal and can be spotted basking on rocks, overhanging branches, or vegetation near the water’s edge. They often take refuge under rocks along the edges of streams. If you’re lucky, you may see them swimming.

Queen Snakes are specialist predators that primarily feed on crayfish. They almost exclusively prey on newly molted crayfish, which have soft bodies and can’t use their pinchers yet. They hunt by probing under rocks and other submerged objects for crayfish.


#7. Northern Cottonmouth

  • Agkistrodon piscivorus

Common Arkansas Snakes

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 Arkansas.

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 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.


#8. Southern Watersnake

  • Nerodia fasciata

broad-banded watersnake

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 Arkansas 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.


#9. 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 Arkansas 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.


#10. 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 Arkansas.

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.


#11. Gulf Swampsnake

  • Liodytes rigida sinicola

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. There are sometimes two dark or black stripes running down the back.
  • The underside is yellow with two rows of black half-moons or dots.
  • Subspecies of the Glossy Swampsnake.

Gulf 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 a heavy rain.

Gulf 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, Gulf 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 Arkansas. But their dependence on aquatic habitats and crayfish may subject them to decline due to habitat loss and degradation.


#12. 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 Arkansas!

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 Arkansas 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.


#13. 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 Arkansas 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.


#14. 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 Arkansas, 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!


#15. 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 Arkansas 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.


#16. 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 southwest Arkansas 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!


#17. Great Plains Ratsnake

  • Pantherophis emoryi

great plains rat snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 36 to 60 inches long.
  • Coloration is light gray or tan with dark gray, brown, or green-gray blotching down its back.
  • A spear-shaped mark on the head and stripes on the sides of the head that meet to form a point between the eyes.
  • Also sometimes called Emory’s Ratsnake, Brown Ratsnake, or Chicken Snake.

Great Plains Ratsnakes are found in ArkansasΒ in open woodlands, rocky, wooded hillsides, semi-arid regions, and agricultural areas. Being nocturnal, they are hard to find and spend most of their days in old mammal burrows or under rocks, logs, boards, and other cover objects.

great plains rat snake range map

This species prefers to prey on rodents but may also consume small birds, lizards, and frogs. They are also known to eat bats and are sometimes found near caves hunting them! Like other rat snakes, they’re constrictors and use their strong coils to suffocate prey before eating it.

When disturbed, the Great Plains Ratsnake curls up and vibrate its tail which sounds remarkably like a rattlesnake when done in dry leaf litter. Though they’re considered non-aggressive and docile, they may strike if grabbed.


#18. 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 Arkansas, 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.


#19. 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 found in Arkansas 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.


#20. 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 Arkansas!

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.


#21. 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 Arkansas 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.


#22. 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 Arkansas 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. πŸ™‚


#23. 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.


#24. 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 Arkansas.

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 78Β°F.

coral snake vs scarlet snake

Texas 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.

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.


#25. 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 Arkansas!

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 Arkansas 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 in Arkansas 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.


#26. 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 Arkansas 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 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 Arkansas?

Try this field guide!


Which of these SNAKES have you seen before in Arkansas?

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

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