Common Snakes in the South: Identification, Threats & Snake Control Tips

 

Eastern Kingsnakes

king snake
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, usually 3-4 feet long
  • Shiny black color with white or yellow bands
  • Short, blunt snout and rectangular looking head
  • Small beady eyes

Where do you find them?

  • Protected areas such as woods, overgrown vegetation, cluttered areas, etc.
  • Prevalent throughout the southeast U.S.
  • Most active during summer months in the morning hours

How dangerous are they?

  • Strong constrictors
  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – other snakes, lizards, rodents, and birds
  • Limit clutter and stored wood near your home
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Rat Snakes

rat snake
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, 3-6+ feet long
  • Black, yellow with stripes, or gray with darker patches

Where do you find them?

  • Semi-protected areas such as woods, over grown vegetation, swamps, abandoned or vacant buildings, etc.
  • Prevalent throughout the southeast U.S.

How dangerous are they?

  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened
  • May climb for food

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – rats, mice, squirrels, birds, and bird eggs
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Garter Snakes

garter snake
What do they look like?

  • Small to medium sized snakes, 1.5-4 feet long
  • Three yellow stripes running vertically down a dark colored body

Where do you find them?

  • Protected areas such as woods and marshes, but are also very common in grassy areas and around water
  • Suburban areas where areas of cover/shelter are available
  • Active day or night and often found under boards or debris
  • Common throughout the southeast and most of the U.S.

How dangerous are they?

  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – worms, slugs, frogs, toads, salamanders, fish and tadpoles
  • Limit items that can be used as cover/shelter around the home like scraps pieces of wood and debris
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Black Racer Snakes

black racer snake
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, 5+ feet long
  • Slender, solid black color and may have a white chin
  • Often confused for other large, black snakes
  • Juveniles look very different from adults; they are grayish colored with darker blotches

Where do you find them?

  • Thrive in nearly any habitat, but are more abundant near forest edges, old fields, or wetland edges
  • Common throughout the eastern U.S.
  • Active during warmer months in the daytime hours

How dangerous are they?

  • Usually flee from threats
  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – insects, lizards, snakes, birds, rodents, and amphibians
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Brown Snakes

brown snake
What do they look like?

  • Small snakes, 6-13 inches long
  • Most are brown but may be yellowish, reddish, or grayish-brown with rows of darker spots on the back

Where do you find them?

  • Wooded areas, near wetlands, and urban areas
  • Not found in areas of high elevation
  • Under wood, leaves and debris in residential areas and any other area with adequate groundcover
  • Most common snake in urban environments
  • Most active during evening or night hours, occasionally seen crossing roads

How dangerous are they?

  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – slugs, earthworms or other soft-bodied invertebrates
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Copperhead Snakes

copperhead snake
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, 2-4 feet long with a heavy body
  • Head is distinctly triangular shaped
  • Tan to brown with hourglass shaped darker bands running across the body
  • Juvenile copperheads have a distinct yellow tail tip

Where do you find them?

  • Semi-protected areas such as woods and swamps
  • May be found in suburban areas
  • Throughout central and eastern U.S. except some southern portions of Georgia and all of Florida

How dangerous are they?

  • Venomous
  • Do not handle or approach, may bite if threatened
  • Use caution when outdoors at night in the summer

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – mice, small birds, lizards, small snakes, amphibians and insects
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed wildlife control company

Water Moccasins (Cottonmouth Snakes)

water moccasin
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, 2-4 feet in length with a very heavy body
  • Color varies from solid brown or brown or yellow with dark crossbands
  • Juveniles have a yellow tail tip
  • Head is distinctly triangular (due to venom glands)
  • Characteristic threat display with the head in the middle of the coiled body with the mouth wide open (mouth is white on the inside, hence the cottonmouth nickname)

Where do you find them?

  • Freshwater habitats, cypress swamps, river floodplains, and heavily vegetated wetlands
  • Throughout the southeast U.S. but are slightly more common in coastal regions
  • Active day or night but most often seen foraging at night for food in warmer months

How dangerous are they?

  • Venomous
  • Do not handle or approach, may bite if threatened
  • Use caution when around fresh water habitats

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home (bodies of water) – amphibians, lizards, snakes (including smaller cottonmouths), small turtles, baby alligators, mammals, birds, and fish
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them

Coral Snakes

coral snake
What do they look like?

  • Medium sized snakes, 1.5-2.5 feet long
  • Brightly colored, red, yellow, and black
  • When threatened the tail is lifted up and the tip is curled over

Where do you find them?

  • Pine and scrub sandhill habitats
  • Hardwood forests and pine flatwoods that flood
  • Suburban areas
  • Throughout much of the southern coastal plain (most common in Florida)
  • Rarely seen, they spend the majority of their time underground
  • Most sightings occur in the Spring or Fall

How dangerous are they?

  • Venomous
  • Do not handle or approach, may bite if threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – other snakes and lizards
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them