Wayne.....Snake ID

Evelyn3170(z8 SW GA.)July 31, 2004

Wayne...Snake ID..... I live in SW Georgia.....About three years ago I saw a black snake with an yellowish--orange belly cross my driveway.....since then I have had to get 2 baby snakes like this out of my pool skimmer. They probably got thrown in the pool by the weed eater ... it was right after my grass was cut...I had put down new sod around my pool and watered it like crazy so the roots would grow and the grass was kinda high both times... Do you have any idea what kind of snake this is..... I live in an area of Lee Co. Georgia where the houses were built approx 25 years ago and are all on about an acre of land if that helps ID the snake... I worry about my 20 pound dog being bitten....Thanks, Evelyn

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Not sure what "Wayne" means, but black rat snakes have yellow bellies.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2004 at 2:20PM
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Wayne is our resident snake expert.

He will report for duty soon enough. Wayne rocks on snake ID & education.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2004 at 10:19PM
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Thank you, reporting for duty :-). I think Plainbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erthrogaster), though Glossy Crayfish Snake could also fit that description. Both species are nonvenomous and harmless.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 1:00AM
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Evelyn3170(z8 SW GA.)

Thanks, Evelyn

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 9:38AM
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johnpoole(central sc)

black snakes is the name i have always heard and i have never heard of a bite from one, my grandkids catch them, but grandma want let them in the house.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 12:32PM
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See? I told ya so.

Wayne You Da Man~(snake-wise anyway)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 4:33PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I had no idea we have a snake expert here; I'm impressed with your member page, Wayne. Thanks for your help!

I may need advice some day, I'm in the boonies...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2004 at 7:26PM
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Thanks. Any time you have a snake question I'll be happy to answer.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 12:24PM
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Can you ID this one for me....about 2 1/2 foot long, black with yellow-like rings. Was told it was a chicken snake and a good thing to have in the yard to eat up little critters but sure had me scared when it crawled behind my grandchild. I didn't kill it but unfortunely my son in law did that fall before I could get to him. Was that the right thing to do? Don't want to kill anything if I don't have to but there again, don't want the children bitten.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 7:30PM
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It was an Eastern Kingsnake. They are nonvenomous and eat rodents and other snakes including rattlesnakes and copperheads. They're a good one to have around.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 10:23PM
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As long as it does not have a diamond shaped head it is not poisonous...Black Rat snakes keep poisonous snakes away..You definately have a snake nest somewhere in your yard...The babies probably slithered to the pool because they were scared of the vibration....Snakes like pools..Only problem with the rat snake is it does look somewhat like a cottonmouth which are POISONOUS...If you do not have children or animals..a ring of mothballs around your pool will chase the snakes away...the mothballs interfere with the snakes sense of smell...I used them to chase a nest of copper heads away..Mothballs are poisonous so be careful with them.

You could put them all around your yard which would chase them out of your yard....

    Bookmark   March 5, 2006 at 7:40AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'm afraid that that diamond shaped head can be very misleading. Many snakes will flatten their heads when disturbed and look extremely menacing. This is the primary reason, I believe, that so many false alarms are raised about snakes.

And mothballs should never be used outside, ESPECIALLY if there are children and animals in the yard. They could be deadly.

Here's one example of a commonly misidentified snake:


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 11:53AM
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Those are excellent examples of why the adage about head shape isn't very reliable.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 9:18PM
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Since there is a chance any snake is poisonious I do not go near any of them. Snakes like pools unfortunately.

Rhizo is militant about the use of mothballs..I only used them once to get rid of a nest of Copperheads it DID work. I would rather get rid of them then kill them. I did have a neighbor volunteer to sit and shoot them all also, had someone suggest gasoline and a match....Hummmm I chose the mothballs cuz I just wanted them to move away. I have heard that rock salt will irritate them enough to chase them away too. Not sure if that works.

I do have a BIG black racer on my property..I leave that one just because constrictors keep the poisonous one's away. At least that is what I have been told...

I meant a shovel shaped head verses poisonous snakes. Phylosophy verses snakes...never get close enough to see what shape the head is...((smile))

When you took that picture were you within striking distance?? Be careful..

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 7:56AM
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The snake in the picture is a harmless species even though it looks menacing and appears to have a head shape associated with venomous snakes. But I have to agree that the philosophy of not approaching any snake close enough to see its head shape will work just fine all the same ((smile)).

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 7:35PM
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Do water moccasins(sp) jump? My sons were walking in our pasture near our pond when they came upon a snake they stopped about 4 feet away from it and ofcourse froze when my oldest age 14 and very reliable outdoorsman (who was in front) went to move back and to the side the snake JUMPED at him. He said it went right past his chest about 3 feet up barely missing him. He said it was about 4 feet long solid black and thin in shape. It then raced toward the pond. This is the 2nd time this week we have seen a snake that is solid black and thin. We live in north central Florida but are new here from Alaska and not familar with snakes.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 1:05PM
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The snakes you are encountering are Southern Black Racers. They are harmless and nonvenomous, but very agile, quick, and likely to both zoom at and away from people to escape.

Water moccasins (cottonmouths) are very thick-bodied snakes.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 5:36PM
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Hi Wayne... Glad you are about.. I live in North Central Alabama.. I have just fond a snake, I think it is a Northern Black Racer, but since you are about I thought I might ask..

It is at least 30 inchs long, slender, appears all Black except for under its "throat" and chin which is a yellowish color (but then it moves very very fast so I could be wrong).

It is living next to the house in the backyard (there was a handful of sticks that were left over the winter sitting on a flat piece of tin on the ground, I found the snake when I picked up for the spring and moved the tin) Even though the tin & sticks are gone, the snake appears to be staying....

I have a cat that is allowed in the back yard when I am out.. is it likely that this snake would hurt it, without the cat trying to "catch" it first?

if not I may have to get a small pool for the snake to play in, I know snakes are generally good to have as they keep out pesks

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 11:07AM
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squeaker al,

Yep. Definitely a racer. The snake is harmless to your cat and cannot hurt it. They do sometimes bite when cornered but their bite is of no consequence to pets or humans and its unlikely that the cat will even feel or be phased by a racer bite in the unlikely event that one does strike your cat. Cats will, of course, often kill snakes when given the opportunity but the racer will probably be able to avoid that fate because they are more alert and quicker than your average snake.

So no worries. The cat will have no problems with a racer around.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 9:27AM
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I was reading about the snakes Master Wayne has identified for everyone else in different (aka southern) states. But I am in a suburb of a suburb of St. Louis, MO, and today I found a mangled little snake next to my patio. I couldn't really see if it had a stripe around its neck, but the topside was a dark green/brown and its belly was the constuction worker's safety orange. Other than that, I can't tell how long it is because it looked, well, mangled. I didn't see any teeth marks on the sections that were intact, so I suspect my husband must have unknowingly run over it with the lawn mower this morning.

In addition to that, my husband claimed that a much larger dark colored snake was in the yard when he was mowing a couple weeks ago, and it supposedly went down a hole as he was mowing over that section. Now I have two little girls and a pint-sized golden retriever who play in the grass frequently. I don't want them to get bitten (I think my dog already has been b/c I discovered an infected lump on her leg above the paw). I bought something called Snake Away from a local hardware store but I need to know what kind snake it is and what is going to keep them away from our yard.

Not only am I concerned whether this odd looking serpent has a mass of brothers and sisters hanging around, my neighbor had baby copperheads in their back yard last year. I will admit to having a snake-phobia, but I don't even kill the bugs or spiders that sneak into my house. (I use a special bug vacuum and then release them outside.) I don't want these snakes killed, but like the other people who have posted, I just want them to stay away. Poisonous or not, I don't want any kind of bite when I'm running through the grass barefoot. Thank you for your time.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 11:47PM
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The one with the bright orange belly is most likely a Northern Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata). They are non-venomous and harmless. The large black snake is a Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) They are non-venomous and harmless.

The odds that either kind of snake will bite you is very low unless you pick up and handle a black rat snake in which case then it might.

It's difficult to keep snakes away. The only real thing that works but is not 100% foolproof is to keep tall grass and excessive vegetation and cover like flat rocks and woodpiles away from the house and yard. Snake-a-way might work some but I'm skeptical of its effectiveness.

In the end these snakes aren't really a problem and the black rat snake may eventually move on on its own, especially if your yard does not have the habitat I described.

Sorry I can't be more helpful in proposing solutions, but the honest answer is that snakes pretty much go where the habitat and prey is and there isn't much that deters a snake from a place that has what it wants (shelter and food).

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 3:35PM
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Thank you so much for your info. I feel a little better knowing they are not poisonous, but I will definitely wear shoes when I take the dog out at night.

And as far as providing their habitat, I am seriously rethinking putting any shrubs or plants in the front landscaping this year. I think I'll just have a dirt garden. ((grin))

The Snake Away chemical, by the way, smells absolutely horrible. I think it works by making people go inside to escape the pungent odor.

Thanks again for your response. I'll be sure to tell my other snake-o-phobic neighbors that the little ones with orange bellies are not poisonous.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 11:05PM
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robsol1980(8a Atlanta GA)

I live in a suburb just north of Atlanta and just bought a house with a yard this last year. I am from Montana where we only have rattlesnakes and garter snakes. So far this spring as I am doing my yard work I have come across quite a few small (4-6 inch) brown and black snakes. They dont seem to be aggressive. I usually pick them up on a shovel and move them out of the yard. Are there common garden snakes in this area? or what is it that I have.

Thanks for the ID


    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 7:24PM
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They sound like Dekay's Brown Snakes (Storeria dekayi). They are a small harmless snake common in gardens and yards. The adults are only around 7 to 12 inches long so the ones you're seeing could be juveniles or small adults.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 10:06PM
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robsol1980(8a Atlanta GA)

Thanks so much for the help. I wont have to worry about the little guys now.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 11:10PM
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Maryl zone 7a

This has been a fascinating thread. I only pop in here from time to time, but it's so wonderful to be introduced to our snake expert. Tell me Wayne if you would, are there any harmful snakes that stay around in an established well maintained neighborhood? I would think that there wouldn't be many (if any) after reading what they like as habitat. I'm trying to comfort myself of course thinking that mostly people who live in the country encounter the poisonous ones. How far will the average deadly snake travel in search of a meal or a date?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 10:07PM
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Nell Jean

It's so hard to get them to pose! This one raised his head and pretended to be a cobra and hissed like air escaping from a tire when I first approached him. By the time I got the camera, he didn't want to repeat that trick, but he did puff out a bit and hiss again. He wasn't three feet long.

Showing off for the Camera.

Adios, Adder, as he slithered off under the boxwoods.

Wayne can tell you his real name -- we used to call them 'spreading adders.'


    Bookmark   May 26, 2006 at 7:36PM
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Wayne, when you get a chance, since you seem to be the expert, can you tell me what kind of snakes we might expect to find in the Santee area of SC? We may be moving there from Connecticut. Here I've only come across harmless little snakes, in our gardens or sunning themselves on the road (we often rescue the little guys so they don't get hit by cars).

    Bookmark   May 29, 2006 at 5:46PM
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In places where subdivisions on the outskirts of cities and suburbs are expanding into good snake habitat (most notably in western states like California and Arizona, but also in Florida) there can be quite a few human-venomous snake meetings, but in long-term established developed neighborhoods it is hard pressed to find the venomous snakes though some non-venomous species like garter snakes, brown snakes and rat snakes can do alright. Of the venomous snakes coral snakes and copperheads tend to do better in urban areas than the rest. Coral snakes are fossorial (spending most of their time underground) and thus can live in fairly urban areas with less trouble than the surface active snakes. Copperheads spend most of their time under rocks and logs and thus can also squeak out an existence near people if their prey items (mice and rats) are present.


They're field guide name is Eastern Hognose Snake. Local names people use are spreading adder and hissing adder. They are really neat snakes and come in both patterned and solid color phases. They're nicknames are a bit misleading since they're non-venomous to humans though technically they have a saliva that is toxic to toads that eases in digestion.


In the Santee area you will have all four of the four venomous snake types in the United States (Copperheads, Cottonmouths, Rattlesnakes, and Coral Snakes). Of the rattlesnakes there will be two kinds..the pygmy rattlesnake and the timber rattlesnake. No Eastern Diamondbacks in Santee but farther east in South Carolina you can find them as well.

None of these snakes should be cause for great fear, but it will be a change of pace from Connecticut. Connecticut also has copperheads and timber rattlesnakes but they are very restricted in their habitats and locations in Connecticut and very rare there. In South Carolina venomous snakes are somewhat more common. Copperheads are the most likely venomous snake you will encounter. You will still likely see many more non-venomous snakes than venomous ones, of course.

Thanks all for the fun questions.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2006 at 9:53PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Thank you Wayne. I'm so impressed that you know so much about a subject that can affect so many of us. Hey, it's more important and interesting to me then who won American Idol -LOL - but really!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 11:00PM
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Hi, Wayne. I lost a bet with my husband tonight, and I thought I'd check with you to try to vindicate myself! I grew up in Missouri myself, and was always told that coral snakes do not live in Missouri (although people get them mixed up with milk snakes, which look similar and do live in Missouri). Well, the reason I lost my bet was that, according to the online Encyclopedia Brittanica, coral snakes ARE found in Missouri. What's with that?!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 11:55PM
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my yard has become snake central. We are calling it Rose Heyell and Snake Heaven!! Thus far have seen many (or the same active one!) black snakes, a huge-mongous garter snake; a king snake, a little ole' grass snake, and a pygmy rattler. the rattler was the one that gave me the worst heart attack - scared the bejeebers out of me! In all my years in SC, have never encountered one before - guess that isn't too bad oodds!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 8:22AM
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You win the bet. There are no coral snakes in Missouri. Can you link me where Encyclopedia Brittanaca gives the faulty information? I couldn't find it when I looked under their coral snake entry.

I've linked a range map of the coral snake so you can stake your rightful claim to winning the bet.

Here is a link that might be useful: coral snake range map

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 12:15PM
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boisenoise(5/6 West)

Here's the link my son found:

It says, "The eastern coral snake, or harlequin snake (Micrurus fulvius), ranges from North Carolina and Missouri in the U.S. to northeastern Mexico . . . ."

I also found a few other sites giving this information; you could tell by the wording that they had copied it from the Britannica.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 1:49AM
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boisenoise(5/6 West)

Hi, Wayne,
I emailed the Britannica to complain, and today I received an apology from them. They said they corrected their main article in 2005, but overlooked correcting the "concise" version. They promised to correct it shortly. So . . . I win, for sure!!! And thanks for taking the time to pass along your information, too! :)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 2:59PM
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Cool! I'm glad you informed Brittanica of their continuing the mistake in the concise version.

It's kind of fun when you can correct mistakes in reputable and authoritative sources. Winning bets is fun too. Congrats :-).

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 5:07PM
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Need Help. Last week one of our dogs was bite by a baby rattle snake. The dog thus far is fine, he is looking for work currently to pay his vet bill... question, will guinea hens help reduce the snake population? Last summer we had 2 water mocs. I have kids and pets to worry over, the snakes are freaking me out. We live in a rural area so they are around.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:13AM
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I don't know how I found this thread, I was Googling something else and stumbled upon this one. Wayne was very helpful to me about 3-4 years ago in identifying a snake that was in my kitchen at 6 in the morning. It was an earth snake, and it was the only one we ever encountered. We saw a few black racers, but nothing more than that. I think when we adopted our Jack Russell Terrorist, he scared the snakes away!

We are on 3 acres of land in Mathews County, VA. Not too far from the Chesapeake Bay, and lots of rivers and creeks. The closest we are to a creek is about 200 yards, and the back part of our property is woods, and we have a vacant field next to use. I have yet to se a snake here yet! I think that they're fascinating creatures and love to see them. I've learned so much from Wayne's posts on the Reptiles and Amphibians forum.

I'm jealous of everyone else's sightings! Maybe Wayne should come visit us in VA and see if he can find any snakes here!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 5:17PM
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Hi Wayne-
I came upon this thread because I was trying to find information on getting rid of snakes. Just last night I came face to face with an Eastern King Snake. I know, harmless and useful to have around. I know, they will keep the rodent population in the barn down. And yes, I know, they will kill the other poisonous snakes in the barn, (I am North of Charlotte, NC).

The problem you ask? Extreme phobia of all snakes, dead or alive, pictures in books and magazines, captured or wild. I have always been timid around them, but having been bit 3 times (once by a domestic twice in the wild) by black snakes, it has turned into a full blown phobia. I would love to be able to keep the King Snake, but at 4 1/2 feet, Im not handling this very well, and just cannot get myself into the barn without a full anxiety attack and hyperventilating. Is there any national organization that you can recommend to help one get rid of phobias? I dont think I could handle desezitation by exposure. If I dont get a handle of this soon (Even on anxiety meds), the king snake will have to go....

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 3:21PM
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I'm in NC, and I like this site for snake and lizard ID.


It has helped us ID worm snakes (tiny and adorable with rose-colored bellies), and distinguish a black racer from a black rat snake. A black rat snake is living under my house. He is supposed to be controlling the moles, but he would rather go up the trees when baby birds are available. Grr. (So I fed the moles Juicy Fruit gum and I think that controlled them).

I have Siberian huskies, and they hate to bark, but one of them was barking an alert in the back yard one day, so I went out to see. She had cornered a snake which she was trying to tell us might be a copperhead, but in fact it was a subadult rat snake. We only knew because of this ID site.

But I one time alerted a boy at church in Wisconsin that the baby snake he was holding was one I would not hold. I pointed out the ugly head shape. I pointed out the eye, nostrils, and then the extra hole in the side of the face. I said it appeared to be some sort of pit viper, even though WI supposedly only had rattlesnakes for poisonous ones. He put the snake back in the coffee can he was keeping it in and his dad had it ID'd.

It was a cottonmouth! I was about 13 at the time, and the boy was about 11.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 4:11PM
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Ok... just to tell you all how bad my phobia is... I have to go feed at the barn in an hour. I am sitting at work having an anxiety attack and crying. Like I said... any help to get over the phobia would be welcome... (PS- please dont tell me to read up. I have tried in the past to the point that I could probably ID most of the snakes in the MD and NC area if I could ever get close enough to take a good look)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 4:16PM
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I don't know if this thread is still active but thought I'd give it a try. I live in West Columbia, SC and found this snake in the mimosa tree in my back yard. He seemed quite adept at climbing. Black on top, about 6 feet long, kind of skinny, whitish on bottom near head with some black patching on edges where dark meets light. My guess after some internet research is Black Rat Snake - just wanted to see if people here agree. Some pictures of him are here:


also there are some pics of bluebirds who have been visiting our yard. The snake was actually hanging out in one of the bluebirds favorite perches and he hovered nearby at first, and seemed quite taken aback. A chickadee and a titmouse also scolded the snake for awhile. Thanks for any input.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 11:59PM
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Yes, your guess is right on the money. It is indeed a Black Rat Snake. Nice pictures.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:58AM
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I live in Mobile Alabama, it is located in the very southern part of Alabama near the Gulf of Mexico. I just came across this snake and I think it "might" be a water moccasin due to its color and thickness. It had a pinkish-red belly, and on top it was a redish-brown color. It was roughly 16" long. My coworker stepped about 2ft from it and made a 6" strike at him.

What do you think it is?

Here is a link that might be useful: snake

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 5:26PM
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We live in south central Tennessee and have an old cabin back behind our house. We have encountered a thin black snake with a light brown diamond outline on its back. Never had seen one like this before. We have had chicken snakes in the cabin before, but I have no clue as to what this one is. Could it be a cross between a racer and a chicken snake? I mainly am concerned as to if it is poisonous or not, otherwise if it gets to live or not. The chicken snake that was there in the past (which we fondly named "Herman" lol) did a good job of keeping the mice out. If this one is not harmful, then he will get to be the new mouser!!


    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 10:29AM
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One possibility is an Eastern Garter Snake. The adults are black with a checkerboard pattern and typically have two parallel yellow or white stripes down the back. They also come in a non-striped morph.

Another possibility is a subadult Rat Snake or an adult rat snake with an aberrant subadult pattern (the rat snake is the same snake that is sometimes referred to as a chicken snake). The juveniles and subadults have a different appearance than the adult and some adults even maintain remnants of the juvenile pattern well into adulthood.

The snake is definitely not one of Tennessee's venomous snakes.

Whether it is a garter snake or a rat snake it looks like you have a new mouser! Rat Snakes are especially good mousers..the name indicating their dietary preference for rats, mice etc.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 1:06PM
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what kind of snake is reddish brown on the top side and a bright orange color on the underbelly side of the snake. i have never seen this kind of snake around here before...it was near our goldfish and koi tank that we use for spawning them in. the snake got its head hung up in the netting we keep on the tank to keep preditors out, we cant tell what shape the head is, but we want to get it moved before it has a chance to bite one of us or the dogs...if it is not poisonous we want to let it go...

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 10:51AM
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Nancy, Its a Redbelly Water Snake. They are harmless and nonvenomous.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 10:03AM
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Hi Wayne, I also love snakes and do my best to relocate them, but a few years ago we came across a very pretty snake that was after a toad in my yard. I live in deep south Texas, 7 miles from the Mexican border just to give you the territory of where the snake was found. This snake was about 2 feet at most and was a light tan color with extreme pronouced brown diamonds. It was the end of February and a cool morning (low 70s) so it was moving very slow. My kids were looking at the toad and I noticed what I thought was a stick next to the toad and grabbed it to move it out of the way when I suddenly realized what it was. I dropped it right away but it moved very slow due to the cool morning. we put it in a container and took it out to a shrubby area just outside of town. Somehow I have always wondered what that snake was as I have never seen one like that before. My thought is that it may have been a copperhead snake since they range from really light to reddish copper to really dark almost black colors depending what part of the valley they are found. Still those diamonds were very pronounced on a short and thick snake. We have quite a few species down here but few poisonous ones. Any thoughts? Josie

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 4:13AM
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Hi I live on the outskirts of dothan,Alabama I was wondering what kind of snakes might be in my area I found a baby overhead about a year ago but now I found a black snake about 2 or 3 feet long. What type if snake might that be

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:54PM
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