Alabama Snakes: Pictures and Identification Help

picture of a Copperhead snake, part of the Alabama snakes series

Forty Alabama snakes puts the state at the high end of the state snake diversity category. You name the snake, Alabama has it. In fact, most common types of snakes found on the East Coast such as Kingsnakes, Milk Snakes, Racers, Whipsnakes, Garter Snakes and Watersnakes inhabit Alabama.

Situated on the Gulf Coast only expands Alabama snake diversity. In many instances they host multiple species from the common snake categories.

The six venomous snake species often receive top billing from both tourists and residents. Most people from the East Coast are familiar with their names, copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes and coral snakes.

Copperhead snakes, pictured at the top of the page, are the most common venomous snake in Alabama. One reason for their wide range is that they are habitat adaptable. Generally they live in forested areas, but they can also be found in fields and along stream banks. Their light body is covered with darker crossbands. The head shows a characteristic copper color.

Populations of Cottonmouth Snakes live in most of Alabama’s waterways, swamps and creeks. They are also medium sized snakes, stocky by nature.

At issue is that their blotchy skin also makes them look very similar to the watersnakes. Approaching any areas with snakes in the water with caution is always advised. In water area, remember to keep boasts away from low hanging branches to avoid having them drop off a branch and into the boat for a visit. Cottonmouths do have a habit of opening their mouths in a threatening manner when approached. The mouth looks white, explaining the snake’s nickname.

The bad news is when they a few species such as watersnakes resemble them making identification difficult. When they are disturbed, they bite and they are categorized as venomous snakes. Being attentive to surrounding during outdoor activities in the state is the most practical way to avoid them. As long as hikers don’t step on them or sit on them, they are not usually aggressive when people walk by in their territory.

Of the three Alabama rattlesnakes, only the Timber Rattlesnake poses a potential threat. Their habitat extends throughout the state. Populations for both the Eastern Diamond-backed and the Pygmy Rattlesnake are low and continue to decline.

Coralsnakes (Micrurus fulvius) live in the sandy southern soils of Alabama. Their colorful bodies can easily be confused with the colorful milksnakes. The front of the coral snake face is black. The body has red against yellow bands. Populations and sightings are also on the decline. On those rare occasions when a snake bite incident does occur, it makes news throughout the state.

A red face and red blotches surrounded by black bands are good field identification clues.

picture of an Eastern Milksnake
Alabama is also rich in Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes, with five different species:

  • Speckled-Kingsnakes
  • Milk Snake
  • Yellow-bellied Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster)
  • Scarlet Kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides)
  • Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra)

It’s important to note that three very common nonvenomous Alabama snakes, the scarlet snake, the scarlet kingsnake, and the red milk snake, look somewhat similar to the coral snake. The picture shows the Eastern Milksnake.

picture of a Scarletsnake (Cemophora coccinea)
Scarlet snakes (Cemophora coccinea) belong to a separate genera. They are also fairly common in the Southeast.

A red face and red blotches surrounded by black bands are good field identification clues.

More Alabama Colubrid Snakes

picture of a Black Racer snake, credit Bobistraveling Flickr
Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) is the general name for one of the most widespread of all the racer snakes. In fact eleven different subspecies inhabit almost every state in the lower 48 states.

Color is a common name applied to many of the species as well as the Black Racer. Blue Racers, for example are common around the Great Lakes region. The snakes called Black racer is common in states along the entire East Coast states. They are long, thin snakes with a black body, and as the picture highlights, white chins.

picture of an Eastern Coachwhip snake (Masticophis flagellum)
Whipsnakes (Masticophis flagellum) rank as the most common species with the Whipsnake name. Subspecies can be fround from Florida, west to California.

Often they are called Red Racers, but as the picture shows, the Eastern Coachwhip Snake of Alabama has a light color.

picture of a Diamondback Water Snake
Nine watersnake species (genus Nerodia) have been recorded in the United States. Alabama hosts six of them:

  • Diamondback Waternake
  • Northern Watersnake
  • Saltmarsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii)
  • Alabama Green Watersnake (Nerodia cyclopion)
  • Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster)
  • Southern Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata)

  • Physically, water snake bodies grow anywhere from three to six feet in length. Their dark, often blotched skin, helps them blend into their environment.

    While Water Snake species are not venomous, many species are known to be ill tempered, and quick to bite when startled. Wildlife officials often recommend that boaters avoid drifting under low hanging branches (their favorite basking places) in order to decrease the possibility that the snakes drop in for a ride.

    picture of a Mud Snake, credit Ashley Tubbs Flickr
    Snakes in the genus Farancia, don’t get much copy or recognition, 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 Southeast streams, and the range also extends a bit up the Alabama River Valley.

    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.

    picture of a Crayfish Snake
    Snakes in the genus Regina (Queen Snakes and Gray Crayfish Snakes) are another of the common species in the Eastern United States that are less well known to the larger public. They inhabit most water areas of the East that host their primary food source, crayfish.

    The picture shows a Crayfish snake. Both species are an nondescript, dull brown color, and both species grow to a fairly small size, under two feet in length.

    picture of a Pinewood snake
    Pine Woods Snake (Rhadinaea flavilata) are small and as the picture shows, usually with brown bodies. The coloration helps them blend into their habitat, the sandy soils of the Southeast coastal regions.

    picture of an Eastern Worm Snake
    Eastern Wormsnake (Carphophis amoenus) is a very small and thin snake that inhabits forested areas in most parts of the Eastern United States.

    picture of a Smooth Earth Snake, Stephen Horvath, Flickr
    Smooth Earthsnakes (Virginia valeriae) are the only representative of the Virginia genera. They are fairly common in the East and easily recognized by their smooth brown body.

    picture of Corn Snake
    Corn snakes can grow fairly large, and as many Alabama residents learn, they don’t mind hanging out in the back yard.

    Here is a quick list of additional Alabama snakes not addressed in the section.

    • Red bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
    • Dekay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi)
    • Florida Brownsnake (Storeria victa)
    • Southeastern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata)
    • Pinesnake (Pituophis melanoleucus)
    • Rough Greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus)
    • Glossy Crayfish Snake (Liodytes rigida)
    • Rough Earthsnake (Haldea striatula)
    • Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata)
    • Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus)
    • Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus)
    • Eastern Ribbon Snakes (Thamnophis sauritus)
    • Common Garter Snake
    • Eastern Hognose snakes (Heterodon platirhinos)

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