The 44 Types of SNAKES That Live in Texas! (ID Guide)

There are A LOT of snakes in Texas!

Common Snakes in Texas

 

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 Texas 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 44 types of snakes in Texas!

 

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

 


#1. Eastern Copperhead

  • Agkistrodon contortrix

Types of Snakes found in Texas

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 east Texas 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 Texas.

 

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. Broad-banded Copperhead

  • Agkistrodon laticinctus

Snakes species that live in Texas

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 20 to 36 inches in length.
  • Tan coloration with wide, dark bands.
  • Broad head is distinct from the neck, heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils, and elliptical pupils.

 

The Broad-banded Copperhead is found in woodland habitats that include oak, cedar, and juniper trees. They prefer areas with heavy leaf litter or pine needles and can sometimes be spotted near rotten logs, piles of woody debris, ledges, and rocky bluffs. Their range overlaps with the Eastern Copperhead in Texas.

Broad-banded Copperhead Range Map

copperhead range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

When threatened, these venomous snakes normally lie motionless, relying on camouflage for defense. This adaptation sometimes leads to unaware humans and pets stepping on them. They may also vibrate their tail in the leaf litter and lift it up as a warning. If they continue to be disturbed, they may deliver false strikes or bite.

 

Broad-banded Copperheads have a hemotoxic venom that destroys blood cells and tissue. Luckily, bites to humans are uncommon in Texas, and the venom is not ordinarily deadly to healthy adults but can cause localized swelling, necrosis, and severe pain. If bitten, medical attention should be sought.


#3. Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus atrox

Common Snakes species in Texas

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 Texas!

 

You might spot them in deserts, grassy plains, forested areas, coastal prairies, 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!

 


#4. Timber Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus horridus

Texas Snakes species

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 east Texas. 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 Texas 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.”

 


#5. Prairie Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus viridis

Kinds of Snakes in Texas

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range between 3.3 and 5 feet in length.
  • Coloration is highly variable and can be greenish-gray, olive green, greenish-brown, light brown, or yellow. All variations have dark blotches on the body that turn into rings near the tail.
  • Broad triangular head, elliptical pupils, heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils, and a tail rattle.

 

These venomous snakes can be found in Texas in open prairies, grasslands, semi-desert shrublands, and forested environments. They can even be found at elevations up to 9500 feet!

Prairie Rattlesnake Range Mapprairie rattlesnake range map

The Prairie Rattlesnake hibernates during the winter, often in communal dens. These dens are typically rock crevices, caves, or old mammal burrows. Individual snakes return to the same den each winter and migrate up to seven miles to their hunting grounds in the spring.

 

When they feel threatened, these snakes freeze to use their camouflage to avoid detection. They may also quietly crawl away to cover. If approached, they may coil and rattle their tail as a warning before striking. Their potent venom has both hemotoxic and neurotoxic properties, and although rare, can be fatal to an adult human.

 

Prairie Rattlesnakes are listed on the ICUN Red List as a species of least concern. However, they are considered threatened and declining in parts of their range. In addition, they have faced pressure from habitat fragmentation and hunting.

 


#6. Western Massasauga

  • Sistrurus tergeminus

Types of Snakes that live in Texas

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 14 to 36 inches in length.
  • Coloration is gray to light brown with dark brown blotches on the back.
  • Thick body, large triangular head, heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils, elliptical pupils.
  • Being rattlesnakes, look for the rattle at the end of their tail.

 

The Western Massasauga is a rattlesnake and one of the smallest venomous snakes in the country! They primarily inhabit grassland habitats but can also be found in open sagebrush prairie, rocky hillsides, prairie hillsides, open wetlands, and grassy wetlands.

Western Massasauga Range Map

western massasauga range map

These snakes are secretive and not often seen in Texas.

 

When detected, they often freeze rather than rattle. However, when they do rattle, Western Massasaugas make a distinctive sound. Their rattle is significantly higher pitched than larger rattlesnakes and has earned this small snake the nickname “buzz tail.”

 

Though their venom is highly potent, the small quantity they deliver makes their bites much less likely to be fatal in humans compared to larger venomous snakes. However, you still need to respect them as their venom is hemotoxic and will cause localized swelling, extreme pain, and necrosis. Medical attention should be sought immediately if bitten!

 


#7. Plain-bellied Watersnake

  • Nerodia erythrogaster

Common Texas Snakes


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 Texas. 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.

 


#8. Northern Cottonmouth

  • Agkistrodon piscivorus

venomous snake species that are common

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 Texas.

 

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.

 


#9. 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 Texas 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.

 


#10. 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 Texas 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.

 


#11. 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 Texas.

 

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.

 


#12. 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.
  • Also commonly called the Gulf Swampsnake.

 

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 snakes in Texas. But their dependence on aquatic habitats and crayfish may subject them to decline due to habitat loss and degradation.

 


#13. 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 only found in southeast Texas!

 

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 southeast Texas 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.

 


#14. Red-sided Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis proximus parietalis

red sided garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Normally dark green to black, but color varies.
  • Three yellow stripes; one down the back and one down each side.
  • As the name suggests, red or orange bars run along their sides between the yellow stripes.
  • Subspecies of the Common Garter Snake.

 

Like other garter snakes, they are habitat generalists. Look for them in a small area of northeast Texas everywhere, including forests, shrublands, wetlands, fields, and rocky areas. Their favorite foods include frogs, earthworms, and leeches! YUM! 🙂

red-sided garter snake range map

 

In some areas, after emerging from hibernation, there are not enough females for all the males. In these cases, “mating frenzies” occur, and dozens and dozens of these snakes can be found together.

 

To survive colder months, Red-sided Garter Snakes have to hibernate BELOW the frost line. Depending on the area they are located in, it can be hard to find suitable locations. So the few adequate hibernation dens can shelter hundreds, even thousands, of snakes! To see an example, watch the video below:

 


#15. 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 Texas 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.

 


#16. Plains Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis radix

plains garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults average 36 inches in length.
  • Coloration is gray-green with a distinctive orange stripe down the back and a greenish-yellow stripe down each side.
  • Distinct light yellow spots on the very top of the head!

 

Plains Garter Snakes are only found in the very top of Texas in prairies and grasslands near freshwater sources. They have a fairly large population and adapt well to human-modified landscapes. You may spot them near abandoned buildings, trash heaps, or vacant lots.

plains garter snake range map

 

This species is considered one of the most cold-tolerant of all snakes! In fact, they will even come out of hibernation on warmer winter days.

 

Plains Garter Snakes feed primarily on earthworms, slugs, and small amphibians. However, they have also been observed preying on small mammals and birds, including the Eastern Meadowlark and Bank Swallow.

 


#17. Black-necked Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis cyrtopsis

black necked garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Western Black-necked Garter Snakes are dark olive with an orange-yellow stripe down the back and a yellow to white stripe down each side. It can be up to 42 inches long.
  • Eastern Black-necked Garter Snakes are smaller and only grow up to 20 inches in length. They have a checkered pattern of black and yellow on their body, between their three stripes.
  • Both subspecies have a gray head, contrasting strongly with the body. In addition, there is a dark blotch on each side of the neck.

 

This species is found in many habitats, including desert scrub, plains, arid grasslands, and pine-oak woodlands. They’re almost always associated with water sources such as streams, ciénegas, and cattle tanks.

black necked garter snake range map

There are two subspecies of this snake: the Western AND Eastern. They look different (see photo above), but they also behave uniquely. The Western subspecies (Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis) are water snakes and most often found in the water. The Eastern (Thamnophis cyrtopsis ocellatus) subspecies prefers to live on DRY LAND very close to water.

 

The Black-necked Garter Snake’s preferred prey is frogs, toads, and tadpoles, including poisonous species like the Sonoran Desert Toad. However, they have been known to feed on a wide range of other prey, including earthworms, skinks, salamanders, crustaceans, and birds.

 


#18. 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 eastern Texas 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.

 


#19. 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 Texas!

 

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.

 


#20. 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 Texas 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!

 


#21. 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 Texas 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.

 


#22. Western Ratsnake

  • Pantherophis obsoletus

texas rat snake

Identifying Characteristics:

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

 

Western Ratsnakes occupy various habitats in Texas, 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.

 


#23. 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 only found in small parts of Texas 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.

 


#24. 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 Texas!

 

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.

 


#25. Bullsnake

  • Pituophis catenifer sayi

bull snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are large and typically range from 4 to 6 feet in length.
  • Coloration is yellow, beige, or light brown with large brown, black, or reddish blotching on the back and three sets of small blotches on the sides.
  • Blotches may appear like bands near the end of the tail, and the underside is yellowish with black spots.

 

Bullsnakes are often seen in Texas in areas with high rodent populations.

 

So they’re common in places like prairie dog towns. But you can also find them in fields, grasslands, forest edges, savannas, and brushlands with sandy soils.

bullsnake range map

Bullsnakes are fast and can actively pursue prey in loose soil. They even use their prominent rostral (nose scale) to dig! Once they’ve captured their prey, they use their strong body to coil around and constrict their prey.

 

Despite being nonvenomous, these snakes act aggressively toward any threats. They often lift the front half of their body, hiss, and lunge at their attacker until they feel they can retreat.

 

Interestingly, their hissing can sound like a rattle! (see below!)

 

To accomplish this, the snake forces air through an extension of the windpipe, which has a piece of cartilage called an epiglottis that flaps back and forth, sounding very similar to a rattlesnake.

 


#26. 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 east Texas 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.

 


#27. Plains Hog-nosed Snake

  • Heterodon nasicus

plains hog nosed snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 15 to 39 inches in length.
  • Coloration is varying shades of brown with darker brown blotches on the back, two alternating rows of smaller dark spots down the sides, and large longitudinal blotches on the sides of the neck.
  • Enlarged rostral (nose) scale.

 

The Plains Hog-nosed Snake strongly prefers open sandy or gravelly habitats. They’re excellent burrowers and also use old animal burrows for hibernation and protection from hot temperatures.

plains hog nosed snake range map

These snakes are best-known for their impressive displays when disturbed!

 

When initially confronted, Plains Hog-nosed Snakes typically remain motionless or hide their head under their coils. They may also try to bury themselves or escape into a burrow.

 

However, if they’re further disturbed, they’ll spread their jaws and neck like a cobra and puff up their bodies. They may also hiss loudly and deliver false strikes with a closed mouth.

 

If these intimidating displays fail, the Plains Hog-nosed Snake will then twist as though they’re in pain, roll over on their back and play dead. They’ll be limp, open mouthed, and will remain this way even if picked up. They may also bleed from the mouth and cloaca, expel musk and fecal matter, and regurgitate recently eaten food.

 

If I saw one of these snakes do this display, I’d definitely leave it alone! But, unfortunately, they’re sometimes killed by people who are frightened by their cobra-like posture.

 


#28. 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 Texas 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. 🙂

 


#29. 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.

 


#30. 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 Texas.

 

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.

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.

 


#31. Rock Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus lepidus

rock rattlesnake - species of venomous snakes in Arizona

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults rarely exceed 32 inches in length.
  • Robust snake with a tail rattle, elliptical pupils, and a heat-sensing pit between the eyes and nostrils.
  • Coloration reflects the local environment and is typically gray to green with dark brown or black banding. There may be dark speckles between the bands.

 

These small venomous snakes inhabit arid habitats in southwestern Texas, including grasslands and mountainous areas up to 9,600 feet of elevation. They’re often spotted in rocky outcrops and rocky man-made roads. They will shelter in animal burrows, under rocks, and in or under rotting stumps and logs.

Rock Rattlesnake Range Maprock rattlesnake range map

Rock Rattlesnakes are a diurnal species, which means you’re most likely to see them out during daylight hours. However, they’re somewhat secretive and hard to spot due to their excellent camouflage.

 

Rock Rattlesnakes primarily feed on lizards but will also consume centipedes, small mammals, birds, and other snakes when available. Like other rattlesnakes, they use their venom to subdue their prey before consuming it. The venom can cause swelling, bleeding, extreme pain, and local necrosis in humans.

 

Unfortunately, these venomous snakes are often seen in the exotic animal trade for their beauty and relatively docile nature. Rock Rattlesnakes are known to be declining and are considered threatened in some parts of their range. Additionally, they are listed as a species of least concern on the ICUN Red List.

 


#32. Black-tailed Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus molossus

black-tailed rattlesnake - common venomous snakes in Arizona

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 32 to 40 inches in length.
  • Coloration is mixtures of yellow, olive green, brown, or black with darker blotches, diamonds, or bands with light edges.
  • Elliptical pupils, heat-sensing pits between eye and nostril, and distinctive uniform black or dark gray tail with a rattle.

 

Black-tailed Rattlesnakes inhabit deserts, grasslands, and rocky mountainous areas. They prefer warm and rocky areas like the sides of canyons and caves where they can easily find shelter. They hibernate in animal burrows or rock crevices during the winter.

Black-tailed Rattlesnake Range Mapblack tailed rattlesnake range map

In the spring and fall in Texas, these venomous snakes are more likely to be seen during the day. As the weather gets hotter in summer, they become more nocturnal to avoid the heat.

 

They are generally considered docile venomous snakes, and bites to humans are very rare. They’re believed to be less toxic than other species like the Western Diamondback. However, a bite should still be treated at a hospital!

 


#33. Mojave Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus scutulatus

mojave rattlesnake - types of venomous snakes in Arizona

  • Adults range from 2 to 4 feet in length.
  • Coloration is green, gray, brown, tan, or yellow with darker diamond or diamond-like markings down the back.
  • Heavy-bodied, triangular head, elliptical pupils, heat-sensing pits between the nostrils and eyes, and a black and white banded rattle at the end of the tail.

 

Sometimes called the Mojave Green, these venomous snakes are generally found in arid habitats. They prefer desert flatland with sparse vegetation, high desert, mountain slopes, grassy plains, Joshua tree woodlands, and scrub brush areas.

Mojave Rattlesnake Range Map

The Mojave Rattlesnake is one of the most venomous snakes in Texas!

 

Their venom contains both neurotoxins that attack the nervous system and hemotoxins that attack the blood. These snakes are ambush predators and use their camouflage to wait unseen for unsuspecting lizards, rodents, toads, and snakes. Their potent venom means that you should give them distance and respect. If someone is bitten, chances of survival are good so long as medical attention is sought immediately.

 

Interestingly they are sometimes confronted by California Ground Squirrels. These ground squirrels are resistant to snake venom and adept at dodging strikes. They will defend their pups from the Mojave Rattlesnake with vigor!

 


#34. 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 Texas!

 

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 Texas 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.

 


#35. Texas Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis sirtalis annectens

texas gartersnakeIdentifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 15 to 28 inches in length.
  • Coloration is greenish-black.
  • Dark orange or red stripe down the back and a yellowish stripe down each side.
  • Subspecies of the Common Garter Snake.

 

Texas Garter Snakes are hard to find in Texas!

 

Even in their range, they are relatively uncommon, and you will seldom find them in large numbers. When Texas Garter Snakes are located, it’s typically near fresh water in damp sand or dense vegetation. They look incredibly similar to Eastern and Red-sided Garter Snakes, except for the distinctive red stripe that runs down their back!

texas garter snake range map

They’ll use various places for cover, including logs, stones, plants, underground burrows, and human garbage like old metal and boards. They use these spots for protection from predators and to help them thermoregulate.

 

Texas Garter Snakes are harmless and less aggressive than other garter snake species. They rarely bite, except for young snakes, when they feel threatened. Adults most likely will just defecate and release foul-smelling musk from their anal glands onto your hands!

 


#36. Checkered Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis marcianus
checkered garter snake

Attribution © Greg Lasley (iNaturalist.org)

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically 18 to 24 inches in length.
  • Coloration is typically greenish. They have three yellow or orange stripes; one down the center of the back and one down each side.
  • Look for a distinctive black checkerboard pattern on its back.
  • Cream or yellow crescent marks on each side of the head are followed by a dark blotch on the neck.

 

The Checkered Gartersnake is most commonly found in western Texas in desert and grassland habitats. Look for them near water sources, such as rivers, lakes, wetlands, cattle tanks, canals, and ditches. Living in arid conditions, these garter snakes are incredibly good at finding water sources.

checkered garter snake range map

Checkered Gartersnakes are opportunistic predators who feed on a wide variety of prey. They typically consume frogs, salamanders, toads, earthworms, small fish, lizards, snakes, slugs, and crayfish. However, they’ve also been reported to eat mice, raw horse meat, and other snakes of their own species in captivity!

 

Their populations are not currently threatened. Luckily, they tolerate human development relatively well, although draining wetlands and other water sources harm their population. These garter snakes are also able to co-exist with introduced species like the American Bullfrog.

 


#37. Desert Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis splendida

desert kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 36 to 48 inches.
  • Coloration is glossy black or very dark brown.
  • Off-white or yellow speckles form dimly defined narrow cross bands with rectangles of black in between.

 

Despite their name, Desert Kingsnakes are almost always found in Texas near WATER. Look for them in riparian corridors and near stock tanks in arid areas.

Desert Kingsnake Range Map

desert kingsnake range map

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

Like other kingsnakes, this species is a powerful constrictor. They’ll feed on rodents, lizards, and other snakes, including rattlesnakes. In addition, their incredible sense of smell enables them to locate and consume reptile eggs below the surface.

 

This snake is non-venomous and generally very docile. Interestingly, If confronted, they frequently flip over and play dead!

 


#38. Gray-banded Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis alterna

gray banded kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Most adults range from 24 to 36 inches in length.
  • Coloration is typically gray with narrow orange/red banding (Alterna morph) or wide orange/red banding (Blairi morph). However, some individuals lack banding entirely.
  • Both morphs feature a relatively large head and large eyes with round pupils.

 

Gray-banded Kingsnakes inhabit desert hillsides and mountain slopes. They’ve been found at elevations from 1500 to 7000 feet above sea level.

 

This beautiful snake is secretive and hard to find in Texas.

 

gray banded kingsnake range map

Your best chance of spotting one is crossing a road after dark. Much of their population is located in hard-to-reach mountainous areas, and they are primarily nocturnal.

 

Gray-banded Kingsnakes are commonly kept as pets due to their small size, interesting color patterns, and calm nature. In addition, they are non-venomous and rarely bite.

 

Interestingly, they’re immune to rattlesnake venom!

 


#39. Tamaulipan / Mexican Milksnake

  • Lampropeltis triangulum annulata

mexican milksnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 24 to 30 inches in length.
  • Coloration is a distinct red, black, and cream or yellow banding.
  • The head is black.

 

The Tamaulipan Milksnake can be found in semi-arid brushlands with sandy soils.

 

A simple rhyme, “if red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow; if red touches black, you’re all right, Jack,” can help you distinguish these harmless snakes from venomous look-alikes such as the Texas Coral Snake.

Tamaulipan Milksnake Range Map

mexican milksnake range map

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

Primarily nocturnal, this snake is active in the mornings and evenings during the spring and fall in Texas. They generally hide when temperatures are hottest though they may come out to bask for brief periods during the day.

 

This species is generally very docile and often kept as a pet. These snakes can bite and expel musk but rarely do so.

 


#40. Baird’s Ratsnake

  • Pantherophis bairdi

bairds rat snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 25 to 44 inches in length.
  • Coloration is orange, bright yellow, or dark salmon with four stripes from the neck to the tail.
  • The underside is gray to yellow, darkening near the tail.

 

Baird’s Ratsnakes ONLY live in southwest Texas!

 

In general, they are tough to find in the wild. You can try looking in semi-arid rocky habitats, including desert scrub, pine forest, wooded canyons, grass uplands, road-cut bluffs, and desert lowlands. Habitats with plenty of rocky cover, rock crevices, caves, and sheer canyon walls are preferred. They’re occasionally found sheltering in crevices and eaves of ranch outbuildings.

 

They’re considered to be a non-aggressive and docile species. While they are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List, they are protected in Big Bend National Park.

 


#41. Trans-Pecos Rat Snake

  • Bogertophis subocularis

trans pecos rat snakes

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 36 to 54 inches in length.
  • Coloration is yellow or tan with black or dark-brown H-shaped markings down the back.
  • Large, light-colored round eyes with black pupils and pink tongue.

 

This highly nocturnal snake is rarely spotted during the day in western Texas. They occupy desert flats, brushy slopes, and rocky outcrops and prefer areas with deep rock crevices to shelter and hibernate.

trans pecos rat snake range map

Trans-Pecos Ratsnakes primarily feed on rodents but will also consume birds and lizards. In addition, individuals have been reported to eat bats occasionally.

 

These snakes are incredibly docile, non-aggressive, and easy to handle. Because of these features, they’re often raised in captivity.

 


#42. 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 eastern Texas 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.

 


#43. Gulf Saltmarsh Watersnake

  • Nerodia clarkii clarkii

Common Water Snakes species in Texas

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 Texas 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.

 


#44. 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 Texas 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 Texas?

 

Try this field guide!

 


Which of these SNAKES have you seen before in Texas?

 

Leave a comment below!

 

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