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Racers and Whipsnakes
Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) is the general name for one of the most widespread of all the snakes native to the United States. North Carolina is no exception. They are long, thin snakes with a black body, and as the picture highlights, white chins.
Also look for the Coachwhip snake (Masticophis flagellum).
Eastern Hognose snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) can assume a variety of colors and are the most wide ranging of species.
Southern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon simus)
Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes
The North Carolina Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes rank among the most common kinds of snakes that residents and visitors see on a daily basis.
Like other constrictors, they bite their prey and then proceed to wrap their body around it until it can no longer breath. Humans need not worry, they are otherwise peaceful and nonvenomous snakes.
Eastern Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula) generally have a black body with with a series of thin white bands down the back. The top picture shows a face view of the Eastern Kingsnake.
Eastern Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) are very adaptable snakes, inhabiting multiples areas from fields to forests to farms. Finding Milk Snakes in the east can be as easy as taking a hike and flipping over a few big rocks or logs. The can grow up to on average about three feet in length and the red to orange to dull rust color of the bands makes them easy to spot.
Also look for Yellow-bellied Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis calligaster) and Scarlet Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis elapsoides) in the state.
Many types of snakes commonly live in and around water. North Carolina hosts three of the Water Snakes in the Nerodia genus. The Northern Water Snake, the Southern Water Snake and the Brown Water Snake.
Physically, water snake bodies grow anywhere from three to six feet in length. Their dark, often blotched skin, helps them blend into their environment, and makes for difficult species identification in areas hosting multiple species.
The picture shows a Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota).
Corn Snakes (Pantherophis guttatus) inhabit forested areas in the state. The picture highlights two facts. First the orange to red color explains a common nickname, red rat snake. Second, they, like other rat snakes are very good climbers. They climb trees primarily in search of bird prey. However, they can also fall prey to the large predatory birds such as raptors.
The state also has the Black Rat Snake.
Eleven species of Black-head Snakes have been recorded to date in the United States. They are all regionally based and all but three species have some type of connection with the Southwest. North Carolina has a population of Southeastern Crowned Snakes (Tantilla coronata).
Garter snake identification can be a fun activity because they are not aggressive snakes and taking the time to look at one means little personal harm to the observer. Their body color can range from blue, prominent in Florida blue garter snakes, to the many shades of red visible in West Coast species.
The Common Garter Snake in the picture is a rather bland looking species and easy to identify basically because it’s the primary species in most East Coast states. North Carolina also has the Eastern Ribbon Snakes (Thamnophis sauritus).
Still More Colibrid Snakes
North Carolina Farancia snakes don’t receive the recognition of other snakes, primarily because they inhabit areas most often not inhabited by humans. Two species, the Mud Snake and Rainbow Snake live in the muddy waters of ponds, creeks, swamps and slow moving water areas of the state.
The picture shows the Mud Snake, a striking black and red colored snake. Rainbow Snakes have red lines down the body. Both species can grow to be fairly large and robust, in the five to six foot range. Mud Snakes consume water based amphibians such as sirens and salamanders. Rainbow Snakes, at least the adults, consume eels.
North Carolina hosts two of the three species:
- Red bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
- Dekay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi)
Red-bellied snakes live mostly in wooded areas. Brownsnakes even adapt to city life. Whereas most people on the West Coast consider the Garter Snakes as your basic garden snake, many people in the East, especially residential urban areas, think the Brownsnake as a common garden snake. The picture shows the Northern Red-bellied Snake.
- Rough Greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus)
- Black Swampsnake (Liodytes pygaea)
- Glossy Crayfish Snake (Liodytes rigida)
- Rough Earthsnake (Haldea striatula)
- Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae)
- Eastern Wormsnake (Carphophis amoenus)
- Scarletsnake (Cemophora coccinea)
- Pinesnake (Pituophis melanoleucus)
- Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata)
- Pinewood Snakes
- Ring-necked Snakes
Venomous Snakes in North Carolina
Copperhead sankes are one of the three venomen North Carolina snakes. They grow to an average three feet in length and their light body is covered with darker crossbands. The head shows a characteristic copper color.
Their diet consists primarily of rodents in their territory, and unless directly disturbed, they are not known to be particularly aggressive in the presence of humans.
Populations of Cottonmouth Snakes are limited to water areas of the Southeast and up the Mississippi River to Illinois.
Sixteen Rattlesnake species in the genus Crotalus inhabit most areas of North America. North Carolina hosts two. The Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) Timber Rattlesnakes (pictured) and the Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius).
Because of their venomous bites, their presence in any specific area usually gets well documented.
Cobras and Coral Snakes
Harlequin Coralsnake (Micrurus fulvius)