Forty Mississippi snakes puts the state at the high end of the state snake diversity category. You name it and they often host all of the most common types of snakes found in the East. Kingsnakes, Milk Snakes, Racers, Whipsnakes, Garter Snakes and Watersnakes. Situated on the Gulf Coast only expands Mississippi snake diversity. In many instances they host multiple species from the common snake categories.
A one page summary of the snake population is of course, less than an adequate presentation. Please press the snakes button for additional pictures and information covering the state’s snake population.
No doubt the venemous snakes of Mississippi garner the most attention from residents and tourists alike. The presentation begins with this group.
Pit Vipers, the largest group of venomous snakes, consist of three general kinds of snakes: rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths. Mississippi has six venomous snakes Five of those belong to the Pit Vipers family. The remaining venomous snake is the Coralsnake (Micrurus fulvius).
Copperhead snakes, pctured at the top of the page, are fairly common throughout the state. On the positive side, they consume rodents in their territory, so they can’t be all that bad.
Copperheads grow to an average three feet in length and their light body is covered with darker crossbands. The head shows a characteristic copper color.
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.
Populations of Cottonmouth Snakes live in most of Mississippi’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 avoil 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.
Mississippi three Rattlesnakes, the Timber Rattlesnake, the Eastern Diamond-backed and the Pygmy Rattlesnake, cover territory across the state. The presence of a rattle is sufficient to know that any of the species is nearby.
Coralsnakes (Micrurus fulvius) live in the sandy southern soils of Mississippi. Their colorful bodies can easily be confused with the colorful milksnakes. The front of the coralsnake face is black. The body has black against yellow bands.
Racers and Whipsnakes
Racers and Whipsnakes share both physical and behavioral characteristics. Most if not all species tend to be comparatively long, thin and very quick moving snakes. When seen in the wild, their first instinct is to flee.
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.
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 Mississippi has a light color.
Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes
Mississippi is also rich in Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes, with five different species:
- Milk Snake
- Yellow-bellied Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster)
- Scarlet Kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides)
- Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra)
The picture shows the Eastern Milksnake.
Compare the coralsnake, milksnake and the scarletsnake. As the next picture shows, it’s easy to confuse the three snakes. 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.
Nine watersnake species (genus Nerodia) have been recorded in the United States. Mississippi hosts six of them:
Physically, water snake bodies grow anywhere from three to six feet in length. Their dark, often blotched skin, helps them blend into their environment.
In Mississippi, the venomous Water Moccasin shares a similar habitat and slightly resembles a few water snake species. The shorter and thicker body of the Water Moccasin can normally be used as field identification clues to distinguish between them.
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.
More Mississippi Colubrid Snakes
Indigo snakes (genus Drymarchon) often get ranked as the largest colubrids. They can grow up to nine feet in length, with most averaging in the five to six foot category.
The picture highlights the snake’s blue hue, making snake identification in this instance also easy.
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 Mississippi 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.
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.
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.
Eastern Wormsnake (Carphophis amoenus) is a very small and thin snake that inhabits forested areas in most parts of the Eastern United States.
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.
Here is a quick list of additional Mississippi 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)