Herpetology/Snakes

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This page contains information on snakes on the Herpetology List. For more general information about the event, see Herpetology.

Suborder Serpentes/Ophidia (Snakes)

Serpentes/Ophidia belongs to Order Squamata.

Typhlopidae

NOTE: This family is NOT INCLUDED ON THE 2019 OFFICIAL LIST. Typhlopidae is a family of blind snakes.

Etymology Greek: typhlo=blind-eyed.
Physical Appearance Usually small (although some can get up to 0.9 meters). Smooth and shiny, head, body, tail usually the same diameter. Scales overlap a lot, but most other snake scales do not overlap as much. This overlapping system gives the snake protection. The head of Typhlopidae are short with small eyes that are covered by a clear scale. These are used for sensing light more than actual seeing The mouth opens on the underside of the snake instead of the front of the snake. The snout can be round, plat, pointy, hooked, etc. Some can have a bit of flesh sticking out of the snout, used to feel the way in the dark. A rostros scale hangs over the mouth to make a shovel that the snake uses for digging underground.
Life Cycle Most Typhlopidae lay eggs (oviparous), but some eggs can hatch inside the mother (ovoviviparous).
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Live underground. Eat termites, ants, worms, and other small invertebrates.
Behavior and Locomotion When they are dug out of their burrows, the snakes quickly try to bury themselves again. If they are captured, they will wiggle wildly, ooze a bad-smelling material from the vent area, release their body waste, and/or poke the tail spine into the attacker. Any of these actions can cause the attacker to drop the snake. Occasionally, up to twenty individuals from some species of blind snakes coil up together under a stone.
Conservation Status and Efforts Endangered
Distribution Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia, and other islands.
Miscellaneous Information 10 genera and over 200 species

Ramphotyphlops (Brahminy blind snake)

NOTE: This genus is NOT INCLUDED ON THE 2019 OFFICIAL LIST.

Alternate names Brahminy blind snakes (only species on the list) can be also known as flowerpot snakes, common blind snakes, island blind snakes, and Hawaiian blind snakes.
Etymology Greek, rhamphos=curving beak or bill (possibly referring to the scale on the snout used for digging).
Physical Appearance The adults are usually 2-4 inches (5.1-10.2 cm) long, but they have been found up to 6 inches (15 cm). The head and tail can look similar. Some factors that distinguish it from other snakes are 1) the head scales are similar to body scales, and 2) the eyes are unclear, as they are small dots underneath the clear head scales. This means that the snake cannot form images, but they can sense light. The body has 14 rows of dorsal scales, and the color can be dark and light grey, a light yellow-beige, purple, or sometimes albino. The tail has a pointed spur at the end.
Life Cycle These snakes reproduce through parthenogenesis, which means that the females do not need a male to mate. All specimens collected have been female. They can be oviparous, ovoviviparous, or viviparous. There can be up to 8 offspring per clutch, and they are all female and genetically the same.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet It was introduced to different parts of the world through plants. The snake would hide in a plant pot, which would be taken to a different place, hence the name "Flowerpot snake". The Brahminy blind snake usually live in urban and agricultural areas, where there are ant and termite nests. They can be found under logs, wet leaves, and stones in wet forests, jungles, abandoned buildings, and city gardens. They eat the larvae, eggs, and pupae of ants and termites.
Behavior and Locomotion They can be lethargic or energetic, and they seek cover to avoid light.
Conservation Status and Efforts Yet to be classified. No known threats. Extremely widespread distribution. Extremely tolerant of disturbances.
Distribution It lives in Australia, Oceania, Africa, and the Americas.

Family Leptotyphlopidae (blind snakes)

Alternate names Slender blind snakes, Threadsnakes
Etymology (etymology)
Physical Appearance Most Leptotyphlopidae look like shiny worms. They are usually 15-20 cm long and often weigh less than 0.05 ounces. The eyes are vestigial (hence the name "blind snake") and covered by scales. The upper jaw is not movable, they do not have any teeth, and the mouth opens down instead of forward. However, they have highly flexible dentaries with four or five teeth They have smooth, cycloid, equally sized shiny scales. 14 rows of scales encircling the body. Hyobranchium is Y-shaped and located far behind the head. Left lung and tracheal lung are absent. Some species retain well developed pelvic elements (paired ilia, ischia, pubes, and femurs). Females lack a left oviduct.
Life Cycle These snakes are oviparous, and some have been observed showing parental care by the females coiling around their eggs. In subtropical forms, reproduction is highly seasonal with courtship and mating in spring and oviposition in summer. Clutch size is typically between 2-7 eggs, but some species oviposit only one egg and some produce up to 12 or 13. Eggs are generally 0.6-1 inches in length but 0.08-0.16 inches in width. Incubation times are largely unknown. Hatchling size varies within species, ranging from less than 2.4 in to over 4.3 in.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Habitats: deserts, tropical rainforests, dry woodlands, savannas, plantations, boulder-strewn mountain slopes. In these macrohabitats, they are found within a relatively narrow range of microhabitats. They are mostly found in shallow soil, amidst leaf litter or other surface debris, or beneath stones and logs. Their preference of these microhabitats is probably due to their extremely high surface-to-volume ratios, which make regulating body temperature and minimizing evaporative water loss especially challenging.

Diet: They eat soft-bodied invertebrates, primarily ants and termites. They also secrete fluids that fool termites allow them to infiltrate termite nests and eat eggs and larvae. They eat by mandibular raking, in which the front half of the lower jaw is rapidly flexed in and out of the mouth to rake prey into their throat, and it minimizes feeding time and exposure to defense attacks from prey. They use chemoreception to catch prey; once they enter into a termite or ant colony, they go into a feeding frenzy. Some species consume a relatively wide variety of animals, including beetles, caterpillars, centipedes, cockroaches, crickets, fly larvae, harvestmen, millipedes, and spiders.

Ecological Impacts: Texas blind snake (Leptotyphlops dulci) has been found in screech owl nests, as they are brought to the nest by prey- but nests with these snakes have a lower chick mortality rate because the snakes eat parasitic arthropods. Leptotyphlopidae also benefits humans in some areas by keeping ant and termite populations in check.

Behavior and Locomotion They are fossorial, burrowing snakes, especially in loose soils. They spend most of their lives underground, but they venture aboveground in evening to search for food or mates. When disturbed by potential above ground predators, they attempt to escape into the ground. If this fails, however, they have other defensive strategies: when restrained, they will thrash around violently; if it cannot wiggle free, it will jab its captor with its sharp tail and void the contents of its cloaca; and as a last resort, some species will become rigid and fake death.
Conservation Status and Efforts No species are listed by the IUCN.
Distribution Tropical distribution; Africa, southwest Asia, southern North America, Central America, West Indies, South America
Miscellaneous Information There are about 90 species in two genera (Leptotyphlops and Rhinoleptis). Considered to be the sister to the clade of Typhlopidae and Anomalepididae. The world's smallest (recorded) snake is in this family (L. carlae).

Family Boidae

Etymology The Old Tupi name for such snakes was mbói, which figures in the etymology of names such as jibóia and boitatá (the Brazilian name for the mythical giant anaconda).
Physical Appearance Medium to large snakes- size range is 1.2–25 ft (0.37–7.7 m); 0.2–320+ lb (0.1–145+ kg). Characterized by stout bodies, rigid lower jaw, vestigial pelvic bones with small remnant hind limbs that form spurs on either side of the body, no postfrontal bones or premaxillary teeth, and two lungs of almost equal size (left lung never makes up more than 85% of right lung size). Some species have labial pits (sensory organs that enable the snakes to sense infrared thermal radiation). In most species, the female is larger.
Life Cycle All boine snakes and most erycine snakes are viviparous. The Arabian sand boa (E. jayakari), Sahara sand boa (E. muelleri), and Calabar boa (C. reinhardtii) are oviparous.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Can be found in nearly every habitat of snakes except marine habitats. Many sand-boas are well adapted to very hot and dry habitats. Eryx tataricus is found in a very cold climate in southern Mongolia. The viper boa’s range includes one of the rainiest locations on Earth, New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago. The range of the boa constrictor includes the Sonoran Desert, Amazon rainforest, Argentina’s temperate grasslands.

Diet: Primarily ambush hunters that consume vertebrate prey. Sand boas lie buried in wait for lizards or small mammals, Amazon tree boas perch in trees over watercourses waiting for birds to fly by, Puerto Rican boas sit high in cave entrances to intercept bats. Many small boas consume lizards, and mammals become increasingly prevalent in a boa’s diet as size increases. Green anacondas kill and occasionally consume humans, but this is not a common occurrence.

Ecological Impacts: In the past, many boa species were considered an important natural resource of indigenous peoples. Some larger boas may be hunted for meat or medicine in some areas, but not commonly. There is some commerce in anaconda or boa constrictor skins, but not a lot. However, boa constrictors, rosy boas, and East African sand boas are among the most commonly kept snake species; thousands are bred and born in captivity every year. As of 2002 all but three or four boid species have been reproduced in captivity.

Behavior and Locomotion Typically nocturnal but are seen moving or basking during the day. Larger boas defend themselves with cloacal discharge, hissing, striking, and biting. Sand boas are reluctant to bite and instead roll into a tight ball with their heads in the center. Several blunt-tailed sand boa species will then use their tails to mimic their heads. C. bibroni has been seen to flatten the head and the anterior half of the body, much like a cobra. In some species, males will fight (sometimes wrestling and biting) when competing to breed with a female. Male anacondas do not engage in combat; groups of males are sometimes seen simultaneously courting a female.
Conservation Status and Efforts Rarest boa in the world is Corallus cropanii in southeastern Brazil, probably extinct (last specimen collected 40 years ago). Mona boa (Epicrates monensis) and subspecies is listed as endangered by IUCN. Four species listed as Vulnerable: Jamaican boa (Epicrates subflavus), Dumeril’s boa (Boa dumerili), Madagascar boa (Boa madagascariensis), and the Madagascar tree boa (Boa mandrita).
Distribution South America, Central America, Mexico, southwestern Canada, western United States, and West Indies; southeastern Europe and Asia Minor; sub-Saharan western Africa east to Tanzania, north through Egypt, and Mediterranean coast from Egypt to eastern Morocco; Madagascar and Reunion Island; Arabian Peninsula; southwestern and central Asia; Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka; Sulawesi, Moluccan Islands; New Guinea; Bismarck Archipelago; and Melanesia east to American Samoa.
Miscellaneous Information 20 genera, 2 subfamilies, more than 40 species

Genus Charina (rubber boa and rosy boa)

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology Greek word Charina, meaning graceful. Bottae honors Dr. Paolo E. Botta, an Italian ship's surgeon, explorer, and naturalist.
Physical Appearance Rubber Boa: One of the smaller boas; adults can be 38 to 84 cm, newborns are typically 19 to 23 cm. Common name derived from loose, wrinkly skin covered in small, smooth, and shiny scales. Colors are tan to dark brown with a lighter ventral surface (sometimes olive-green, yellow, or orange). Newborns often are pink and slightly transparent but darken with age. Rubber boas have small eyes with vertically elliptical pupils and short, blunt heads. They also have short, blunt tails that resemble their heads.

Rosy Boa: Small, attaining a total length of 43 to 86 cm and width about the diameter of a golf ball. Coloration is highly varied. Common name derived from rosy or salmon coloration on belly of coastal SoCal and Baja Mexico species. Most rosy boas instead have a series of dark to orange spots on a light-colored background. Almost all specimens have three longitudinal stripes on their back of varied intervals. They can be orange, maroon, rust, brown, or black, and interspace colors can be gray, yellow, or tan. Their tails are short, tapered, and slightly prehensile with a blunt tip. The head shape is elongated and covered dorsally with small scales (vertically elliptical pupils). 216-245 ventral scutes, 38-52 undivided subcaudals, undivided anal plate, no chin shields. In the mouth, each maxilla has 14 to 20 teeth. Males tend to be smaller, with more prominent anal spurs and slightly longer tails in proportion to the body.

Life Cycle Rubber Boa: Viviparous and can have up to 9 young per year. Many will only reproduce every 4 years. Mating occurs shortly after re-emergence from hibernation in the spring. Young are born anywhere from August to November of that year.

Rosy Boa: Viviparous and have about 3 to 8 young per brood. Neonates are 18-36 cm long and basically miniatures of the adults, possibly with more contrasting patterns. In courtship, the male flicks his tongue over the female’s body (she may do the same in return). He then slowly crawls over her and strokes her posterior sides with erected anal spurs. If the female is receptive, she turns her body and elevates her tail; the male inserts his hemipenis. Courtship and mating occur from May through July and gestation requires 103 to 143 days. Females give birth between August and November. Females and males reach sexual maturity at 2 to 3 years and 60 cm or 43-58 cm, respectively. Average captive lifespan ranges from 18 to 22 years.

Ecology, Habitat and Diet Rubber Boa-

Habitat: Diverse habitat types. Grasslands, meadows, chaparrals, deciduous/coniferous forests, high alpine settings. They can be found from sea level to over 10,000 feet. They’re not as tolerant of high temperatures as other snakes but can live in very cold areas. They require habitats with shelter (rocks, logs, leaf litter, burrows) where they spend most of their time.

Diet: Their diet consists mostly of young mammals like shrews, voles, or mice. They try to eat the whole litter if possible and fend off the mother with their tail, which is why individuals will often have extensive tail scarring. They have been known to eat snake eggs, lizard eggs, lizards, young birds, young bats, even other snakes.

Ecological Impacts: Vulnerable to most carnivorous predators due to slow nature and lack of defenses. Threats: other snakes, birds of prey, ravens, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, moles, cats.

Rosy Boa-

Habitat: Dry shrublands, deserts, and near-desert areas. They are found among scattered rocks and boulders or on talus slopes. They prefer south-facing hillsides at elevations from sea level to 2000m, usually near free water (streams).

Diet: A large portion of its diet is made up of pack rats, baby rabbits, deer mice, and kangaroo rats. The rosy boa also eats rodents, nesting birds, lizards, amphibians, and other snakes. They may slowly stalk or ambush their prey, constricting it, killing it, and consuming it.

Ecological Impacts: Potential predators include raccoons, ringtails, weasels, skunks, coyotes, hawks, shrikes, and other snakes. Rosy boas control nesting rodent populations in arid habitats and also serve as hosts for various parasites. They are a keystone species. They are very popular in the pet trade due to their docile nature.

Behavior and Locomotion Rubber Boa: One of the most docile of the boas, often used to help people overcome fear of snakes. They will never strike or bite a human but they will release a potent musk from their vent if threatened. They are primarily nocturnal and likely crepuscular. During the winter, they hibernate in underground dens. When threatened, they will curl into a ball, bury their head inside, and expose their tail to mimic their head. They are fossorial or semi-fossorial and use existing rodent tunnels or rock fractures. During spring and fall they may be found under surface objects thermoregulating. They are not often found on the surface during summer. (Locomotion: Good climber, burrower, swimmer. Maintains a relatively small home range but may occasionally migrate. Quite slow.)

Rosy Boa: Fossorial or semi-fossorial, spending most of its life concealed under rocks and in crevices. Its activity season follows local weather patterns, but it’s generally dormant in winter. Its activity rate is highest in spring; because of breeding season, they are seeking mates above ground. During hot weather, the rosy boa is mostly nocturnal but becomes crepuscular in late spring and summer. Extremely docile, rolls into a ball when disturbed or releases a potent musk. (Locomotion: Also very slow. Uses rectilinear (caterpillar-like) motion. Good climber.)

Conservation Status and Efforts Rubber Boa: Listed as Least Concern on IUCN Red List.

Rosy Boa: Listed as Least Concern on IUCN Red List. Bureau of Land Management in California has the species listed as sensitive.

Distribution Rubber Boa: Most northerly of boa species. Distribution covers a large portion of western US (Pacific Coast east to western Utah and Montana, as far south as San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains east of LA, as far north as southern British Columbia).

Rosy Boa: Found in southwestern US in California and Arizona, and northwest Mexico in Baja California and Sonora.

Miscellaneous Information Two species: Charina bottae (rubber boa) and Charina trivirgata (rosy boa). Rosy boa was originally under the genus Lichanura. There is a lot of disagreement over whether the southern rubber boa is a species or subspecies.

Family Colubridae (typically harmless snakes)

This family contains 249 genera and about 1,760 species and is the largest snake family.

Alternate names Colubrids
Etymology (etymology)
Physical Appearance Snakes in this family have a reduced left lung, only a few scales on the head, and large scales on the body. The size of these snakes ranges from 6 inches to 12 feet. Teeth: Some snakes in this family have elongated, grooved teeth at the back of their upper jaws. This is different from vipers and elapids who have fangs but no elongated teeth at the back of their jaws. Colubrid teeth are thought to have come before fangs. The rest of their teeth are solid and conical.
Life Cycle Most Colubrids lay eggs, but those living in the water are viviparous. When burying eggs, females will lay them in holes or under rotting leaves. Smaller snakes have less young than larger snakes. Parental care after hatching depends on the species.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Where a Colubrid lives depends on the species. They can be terrestrial, fossorial, arboreal, or aquatic. Snakes in colder climates will hibernate, often using other animals' burrows or hiding under logs, tree stumps, or rocks.
Behavior and Locomotion When threatened, Colubrids will attempt to make themselves look larger in a number of ways. Some will spread out their necks, while others may open their mouths wide. Some snakes also give off smelly substances to scare away potential predators. Others have patterns that are similar to the patterns of venomous snakes to confuse threats into thinking that they too are venomous. During mating season, males will wrestle one other by twisting their bodies around each other.
Conservation Status and Efforts 1 extinct species, 6 critically endangered species, 7 endangered species, 8 vulnerable species, 4 lower risk species, and 10 data deficient species.
Distribution Colubrids can be found everywhere except Antarctica, near the north pole, and central/western Australia.
Miscellaneous Information Most snakes in this family are not venomous, but some can be harmful to humans. Three types of snakes in this family have caused human fatalities. Symptoms of venom from Colubrids include paralysis. To be harmful, the snake must chew on the victim in order to inject venom. The venom has not been researched very much, but it is considered a hemotoxic venom, similar to viper venom.

Genus Nerodia (water snakes and salt marsh snakes)

This genus contains 9 species.

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology (etymology)
Physical Appearance Nerodia snakes have flattened heads, small eyes with round pupils, and keeled dorsal scales. Size: Nerodia snakes are medium-sized to large and can grow up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) or longer. Males are usually smaller than females. Color: Coloring and marking varies between species but most have a brown or olive green background with brown, black, yellow, or cream-colored markings. Common markings include bands/stripes, blotching, or diamond shapes.
Life Cycle Water snakes are viviparous. Mating season is during the spring and eggs are laid in later summer/early fall.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Water snakes live near or in permanent sources of freshwater such as rivers, streams, sloughs, lakes, ponds, bogs, marshes, and impoundments. They will bask on tree branches that overhang streams or ponds. Diet: These snakes primarily eat fish, crayfish, insects, leeches, other snakes, turtles, birds, small mammals, and amphibians, as well as small reptiles and rodents.
Behavior and Locomotion When threatened, water snakes will flee into a body of water or, if unable to do so, will bite or strike and excrete a smelly musk. If they do dive under the water, they will attach themselves to vegetation or logs and come above water after about 5 minutes. However, they can stay under water for 1.5 hours. They are diurnal but can be found moving around during the evenings. They are usually solitary but can bask in groups. Communication occurs through touch and smell.
Conservation Status and Efforts Water snakes are caught for pets less than other snakes because of their dull coloring and poor disposition. However, they are relatively easy to take care of. Some species that are found in specific areas are protected by state laws but most Nerodia snakes do not have a specific conservation status. They are killed quite often because they look like cottonmouths, which are venomous.
Distribution Nerodia snakes are all native to North America. They can be found throughout the southeast United States, southern Canada, northern Mexico, and Cuba.
Miscellaneous Information (miscellaneous)

Genus Storeria (brown snakes and redbelly snakes)

This genus contains four brown snake species and one redbelly snake species.

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology The genus is named after David Humphreys Storer, an American physician and naturalist.
Physical Appearance Color: Snakes in this genus are usually light to dark brown, with some being almost black or brick red. They can have a lighter stripe down the back with small black blotches down the body and behind the head. The underside is a light brown, yellow, or red (for redbelly snakes). Scales: Storeria snakes have keeled dorsal scales, no loreal scale on the head, and their postnasal scales touch the preocular scales. Redbelly snakes are 8-16 inches in length when adults. They can be brown to reddish brown with some being gray and black. Markings include 4 stripes down the back, 1 stripe down the back, or 5 stripes down the back. The stomach can be red, faint yellow, pink, and sometimes gray or black. The head is brown or reddish brown like the body with a white throat and chin. Males usually have longer tails. Brown snakes are usually under 15 inches in body length. They have large eyes and keeled scales. Their body is grayish brown with a lighter colored stripe down their back with black dots on either side. The stomach area is pinkish white. Similar to redbelly snakes, males have longer tails.
Life Cycle Brown and redbelly snakes are viviparous. Redbelly snakes have a mating season in spring and early summer. They give birth around late July to early September. Average litter size is 7-8 babies. They live for about 4 years in captivity. Brown snakes give birth to 12-20 young between late July to early August. There is no parental care given after the babies are born. Breeding begins with a male following a pheromone trail of a female. They live for about 7 years in captivity.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat:Redbelly snakes are found in deciduous and mixed woodlands, usually in damp, moist, and cool environments. They will hide under bark, logs, rocks, and leaf litter. They can also be found in vacant lots, around trash, and other debris. Brown snakes hide under loose stones or flat rocks in the wild and in large cities. They live primarily underground but will come out after rain when the ground is moist. They will also move around above ground during October-November and March-April after or before hibernation. Diet: These snakes eat earthworms, snails, slugs, and other invertebrates. Redbelly snakes eat gastropods. Some studies have shown that at times, redbelly snakes only eat slugs. They also will eat earthworms, snails, insect larvae, pill bugs, and young salamanders. Their body has adapted to this diet; their teeth are curved so that they are able to catch slippery slugs. Brown snakes eat earthworms, snails, slugs, salamanders, grubs, and beetles. Their teeth and jaws are formed in such a way that allows them to pull snails from their shells easily.
Behavior and Locomotion Redbelly snakes are diurnal but can be active during the evenings during hot or dry weather. They are also active after rain because this is when food is also active. Redbelly snakes only hibernate in the north between November to early spring. Hibernation occurs in anthills, building foundations, abandoned burrows, and other holes with other snakes (both of their own species and different species). When redbelly snakes are eating or being threatened, they will flick their tongues and curl their lips to show their maxillary teeth. This is believed to help catch prey and scare away predators. When captured, redbelly snakes will try to rub their teeth on the capturing organism and release musk. They may 'play dead' as well. Brown snakes hibernate, and like redbelly snakes, they are known to share their hibernation spots with other snakes like garter snakes, redbelly snakes, and green snakes. When threatened, brown snakes will flatten their bodies to appear larger and will release a musk. Communication occurs through touch and smell. Prey is found through smell.
Conservation Status and Efforts Redbelly snakes are of least concern. They can be killed while trying to migrate across roads. Brown snakes are of least concern, but can be victims of habitat loss and pollution.
Distribution Redbelly snakes are found from eastern North Dakota north to Nova Scotia, south to Florida, and west to Texas. Brown snakes are found in southern Canada, west of the Rocky Mountains in the US, and in northern Mexico.
Miscellaneous Information Redbelly snakes are preyed on by crows, milk snakes, hawks, shrews, squirrels, raccoons, and cats. Brown snakes are preyed on by large frogs and toads, larger snakes, crows, hawks, shrews, weasels, birds and cats/dogs.

Genus Thamnophis (garter, ribbon, lined snakes)

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology (etymology)
Physical Appearance Garter snakes can look very different depending on the species. Some have one or more light stripes down their back with a background color of black, brown, gray, or olive. Others have the same background color with a checkerboard-like pattern of darker spots down the back. The head of the snake is wider than the neck and is a darker color than the rest of the body. Their tongues are red with some black, and they have keeled scales. The stomach area can be white, yellow, green, blue, or brown. Garter snakes grow to 46-137 cm in total body length. Males are smaller than females and have longer tails. The preferred body temperature is between 28-30 degrees Celsius. Ribbon snakes usually have one to three white, yellow, or green stripes down their backs on a background of black, dark brown, or dark green. Like the garter snake, ribbon snakes have a head that is larger than the neck. They have large eyes that have a light bar in front. Their belly is white, yellow, or green without markings. They have keeled scales. Size ranges from 46-88 cm, and females are slightly larger than males. Lined snakes have a smaller head than garter snakes and ribbon snakes. Size ranges from 22 to 38 cm (8.7 to 15 inches). They can have a background color of olive to gray-brown. There is one light stripe down the back that can be white to orange in color and two more stripes along the sides. The stomach area is white with two black stripes down the center.
Life Cycle Garter snakes grow quickly and become mature when they are about 55 cm in length, when they are 2 or 3 years old. Mating begins as soon as the snakes come out of hibernation. Males mate with multiple females in a year. Females can store males' sperm so if she does not find a good mate in one particular year she can still give birth using sperm from the year before. Garter snakes are ovoviviparous and gestation takes two to three months. Parental care is not involved after birth. Litter size ranges from 10-40, and larger females give birth to more young. Garter snakes live for about 2 years in the wild. Ribbon snakes are viviparous. Their mating season starts after hibernation ends in the spring. They can also mate in the fall. Young are born in late summer, and litter size ranges from 4-27 young (avg. 12). After ribbon snakes are born, they receive no parental care. Many ribbon snakes are mature after two years. Average lifespan in captivity is 10.6 years. Lined snakes are viviparous. After mating with a male, females become unattractive to other males for at least 48 hours to prevent multiple inseminations. Pheromones are used by females to attract males. Age of sexual maturity is around 2 years for females. Mating season is during the fall, fertilization occurs in the spring, and young are birthed during August. There is no parental care after birth. The number of offspring ranges from 2 to 12. The average lifespan is between 3 to 10 years.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Garter snakes are very adaptable and can survive harsh conditions. They live in meadows, marshes, woodlands, and hillsides, but they prefer moist, grassy habitats. They can be found near water, such as ponds, lakes, ditches, and streams. They like to hide under debris, boards, vegetation, logs, and/or rocks. Ribbon snakes live in wet meadows and fields, as well as near lakes, ponds, streams, and marshes. They like to be in open, sunny areas. Lined snakes live in open prairies, edges of woodlands, wooded areas, vacant lots, and residential areas. Hibernation takes place in rocky outcroppings, sometimes 6 to 8 inches underground. Diet: Garter snakes eat earthworms, amphibians, leeches, slugs, snails, insects, crayfish, fish, small mammals, lizards, birds, and other smaller snakes. They are immune to toxic toads. Prey is found through vision and smell. They may be using venom in their saliva that is toxic to some prey to catch them easily. Ribbon snakes eat frogs, salamanders, larvae, and fish. Unlike other snakes in the genus, they do not eat earthworms. Prey is captured by stalking or chasing. Lined snakes eat earthworms, sowbugs, slugs, snails, and soft-bodied insects.
Behavior and Locomotion Garter snakes are diurnal and can be active through a wide range of temperatures. Hibernation occurs from October to March or April in naturally formed holes, burrows abandoned by rodents and crayfish, or under rock piles. Some groups of garter snakes must travel long distances to get from the hibernation location to their feeding areas and back. They hibernate with other snakes to prevent heat loss. Communication occurs through smelling and touching, especially pheromones. They primarily use camouflage to hide from threats and will flee into water if spotted. If caught, they will move around, release musk, and urinate on the threat. Ribbon snakes are diurnal and hibernate from October to April. Hibernation occurs in abandoned animal burrows or anthills. They share these areas with other snakes during this time. Communication occurs through touch and smell, especially pheromones. When threatened, ribbon snakes will flee into water or dense vegetation. They will bite if caught and expel a smelly secretion. Lined snakes are primarily nocturnal (but will bask outside during the day if it is not too hot) and are active from March to November. They usually live outside during spring and fall and spend more time in burrows during summer. When threatened, lined snakes will move around violently and release a musk. There has been one recorded case of cannibalism from a captive individual. Communication occurs through sight, ground vibrations, taste, and smell.
Conservation Status and Efforts Garter snakes are of least concern. However, they can be killed by scared humans and their habitats can be destroyed. They are also captured because they are popular pets. Water pollution is declining their food sources. Ribbon snakes are of least concern, but their habitats can be threatened by development, contamination, and pollution. Lined snakes are of least concern, but they are often killed on roads by vehicles and habitat loss is relatively common for them.
Distribution Garter snakes are found throughout eastern North America from Florida to Quebec, west to British Columbia, and south into California. There are some groups that live on mountain ranges in New Mexico and northern Mexico. Ribbon snakes are found on the eastern side of the Mississippi River in the US. They can be found from southern Maine, southern Ontario, Michigan, south to eastern Louisiana, and throughout the Gulf states (including Florida). There are some populations of ribbon snakes in Kentucky and Wisconsin. Lined snakes can be found in the Great Plains, from southeastern South Dakota and Texas. There are isolated populations in New Mexico, eastern Colorado, southeast Iowa, and central Illinois.
Miscellaneous Information Garter snakes are preyed on by large fish, bullfrogs, snapping turtles, milk snakes, crows, hawks, herons, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, and shrews. Ribbon snakes are preyed on by herons, hawks, minks, raccoons, fish, and frogs. Lined snakes are preyed on by carnivorous mammals and birds.

Genus Heterodon (hog-nosed snakes)

Alternate names Hognose snakes, North American hog-nosed snakes, puff adders
Physical Appearance Hog-nosed snakes have relatively thick bodies, wide heads, and their signature upturned snout. Size ranges from 45-105 cm, and females are larger than males. When they are young, these snakes are pinkish with dark brown/black blotches arranged in a checkerboard pattern down their backs. When adults, these snakes can be light brown, light gray, red, tan, grayish green, yellowish, dark gray, or black. Snakes with lighter colors usually have the dark brown/black blotches seen on younger ones. The blotches are usually larger on the back and smaller on the sides. The ventral side is white to light gray and lighter than the back. The color under the tail is the lightest part of the snake. Hog-nosed snakes have 23-25 dorsal scale rows. Males have an average of 126 ventral scales and 51 subcaudal scales; females have an average of 138 ventral scales and 39 subcaudal scales.
Life Cycle Both male and female hog-nosed snakes have multiple mates within one mating period. When mating, males follow the scent of a female. The mating period is in the spring to early summer. If a male and female mate again in September/October, the female will store the male's sperm until the next breeding season. Males travel further to find mates than females who like to stay near optimal egg-laying locations. Nests are between 23-26 degrees Celsius and are located beneath rocks. The gestation period is between 40-50 days and 10-30 eggs are laid from early June to late July. The larger the female, the more eggs. Eggs are buried 10-15 cm below ground in sandy soils. Hatching occurs in August/September. At the peak of their growing period, snakes can grow up to 2 cm per month. Males take 18-24 months to reach maturity at an SVL of 40 cm and females take 21 months to reach maturity at 45 cm. Incubation takes 39-65 days (avg. 65 days) with the female wrapped around the eggs in the nest. Length of incubation period depends on both the nest temperature and ambient temperature. The higher the temperature, the shorter the incubation period. Some snakes may guard their eggs.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Hog-nosed snakes live in places with dry, sandy, or mixed sandy soils such as grassy fields, fields with crops, and woodlands (usually thin pine and/or hardwood). They can sometimes be found near small bodies of water or buildings like greenhouses and barns. Maximum elevation is 830 m, and average elevation is 330 m. Diet: Hog-nosed snakes eat toads, frogs, reptiles, birds, mammals, fish, salamanders, worms, and insects. Prey is swallowed whole and sometimes while alive. Though many toads have toxic skin, hog-nosed snakes are not affected because their digestive system can neutralize them. Hog-nosed snakes have enlarged teeth to allow them to eat inflated toads.
Behavior and Locomotion Hog-nosed snakes are diurnal. They swim to move between habitats or to find food. They are most active between early April to October or November, at which point they start to hibernate. Whenever the temperature drops to 19 degrees Celsius, hog-nosed snakes will start hibernation. When active, their body temperature is between 23-24 degrees Celsius. They hibernate alone in abandoned animal burrows or in burrows made themselves. To make said burrows, they push their heads into the soil and move right and left to force their bodies into the ground. Their nose is helpful for this. Communication occurs primarily through smell. They do not seem to use their eyes to locate prey. Instead, they use their vomeronasal organ to pick up chemicals from the environment. When threatened, hog-nosed snakes will lunge at and bite the threat. When attacking doesn't work, the snakes will flatten their heads/necks to make them look bigger, hiss loudly, inflate their bodies, roll on their back, open their mouth, and push out the tongue to look like they are dead.
Conservation Status and Efforts Hog-nosed snakes are considered 'least concern'. However, they do face habitat loss and decline of toad populations. They can be killed because of their similarity to the venomous pygmy rattlesnake.
Distribution Hog-nosed snakes can be found along the east coast (from New Hampshire to Florida) and into the central US (Minnesota to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota), as well as southern Ontario.

ETY=(etymology)

Miscellaneous Information Hog-nosed snakes are preyed on by raccoons, opossums, foxes, hawks, birds, snakes, tarantulas, and humans. Hog-nosed snakes can be venomous to humans. Symptoms include swelling, bruising, and pain around the bite area.

Genus Diadophis (ringneck snakes)

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology Their common name comes from the white-yellow ring pattern on their necks.
Physical Appearance The background color of ringneck snakes is blue-gray to light brown to greenish-gray. There are no markings except for a golden ring around the neck, hence the name 'ringneck snake'. In some subspecies, the ring may be cut off in some places or completely absent. The ventral side is orange-yellow, but some snakes can show a gradual change to orange-red towards the tail. Some may have black spots on the abdomen. The number of scale rows varies between 15 and 17. The scales are smooth and the anal plate is divided. Ringneck snakes grow to 25-46 cm. For a couple of years after birth males are larger than females, but as adults, females are larger than males.
Life Cycle During mating season, pheromones are released from female snakes' skin which males use to find a mate. When mating, males rub their mouths on the female's body. Then, they bite the female at the ring on her neck. Mating season is during the spring or fall (delayed fertilization when mating in the fall), and egg-laying season is in June or early July. Females lay 3 to 10 eggs in moist nests. Communal nests are not uncommon, especially in areas with large populations of snakes. Eggs are white with yellow ends. Sexual maturity is reached after 3 years. Eggs are not guarded/cared for, and there is no parental care involved after the eggs hatch. The longest lifespan in captivity is 6 years and 2 months. In the wild, they can live longer (up to 20 years).
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Ringneck snakes inhabit areas with lots of hiding places and places that are gently moist. The best locations are between 27-29 degrees Celsius. Popular habitats include under stones, under loose bark, open woodlands, near rocky hillsides, swamps, damp forests, and riparian woodlands. Diet: Ringneck snakes eat small salamanders, lizards, frogs, earthworms, and young snakes. To catch and eat their prey, ringneck snakes use partial constriction. Fun fact: eastern ringneck snakes in Michigan eat only red-backed salamanders.
Behavior and Locomotion Ringneck snakes can be seen basking during the day but they are mostly active at night. Even though they are secretive, ringneck snake populations can grow to over 100 snakes. Communication occurs through touching, rubbing, head nuzzling, and pheromones. When threatened, and if they have the orange-red back of the tail, ringneck snakes will coil their tails and raise them towards the threat. If not, snakes will play dead and/or release a musk.
Conservation Status and Efforts The San Diego ringneck snake, the San Bernardino ringneck snake, and the key ringneck snake are candidates for the federal endangered/threatened species lists. Key ringneck snakes are threatened in Florida. Ringneck snakes are threatened by habitat loss and the pet trade, as they are colorful and non-aggressive.
Distribution Ringneck snakes are found throughout eastern and central North America, from Nova Scotia, southern Quebec, and Ontario to south/central Mexico. They are not found along the gulf coasts of south Texas, northeast Mexico, and drier areas in the western United States.
Miscellaneous Information Ringneck snakes are preyed on by coral snakes, kingsnakes, racers, hogs, opossums, shrews, armadillos, skunks, screech owls, bullfrogs, large spiders, and centipedes (the last two eat young ringneck snakes).

Genus Coluber (racers)

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology (etymology)
Physical Appearance Racers have 17 scale rows near the middle of the body and 15 scale rows near the tail. The background color can be black, bluish, grey, or olive brown. Though young racers have gray, brown, and red patterns, most adult snakes have no markings. They have a smaller head that is wider than the neck. The chin and throat areas as well as the ventral side can be white, yellowish, black, dark gray, light blue, or cream. Size is 90-190 cm. Males have a longer tail with a wider base than females'.
Life Cycle Mating season is from late April to early June. Eggs are laid in June or early July. Females lay 3-32 white eggs in a covered nest. Locations include rotted stumps, logs, abandoned burrows, leaf litter, and sand. Eggs hatch in August or early September. Males take 1 to 2 years to mature and females take 2 to 3 years. Communal nests are common, with one nest having almost 300 eggs. Racers can live over 10 years in the wild.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Racers live in dry, sunny areas with places to hide, such as fields, woodland, hedgerows, thickets, wood edges, bogs, marshes, and lake edges. Diet: Racers eat insects, spiders, small frogs, small reptiles, rodents, shrews, birds, eggs, squirrels, rabbits, turtles, and snakes. To catch prey, racers put themselves on top of it.
Behavior and Locomotion Racers can only move at a maximum of 6.5 kph (4 mph). When threatened, they will run away into a burrow, thick vegetation, or rock crevice. They may also begin to move wildly and then switch to a graceful motion for about 30 meters. If they cannot flee, racers will coil and strike while vibrating its tail. A racer bite is not venomous but it can cause bleeding.
Conservation Status and Efforts Racers are of least concern. Pesticides can contribute to the deaths of juveniles because they eat lots of insects. Habitat loss is also a problem for racer populations.
Distribution Racers are found from southern Canada to Guatemala. Ranges where individual subspecies are found include: southern Maine and New York to Georgia and Alabama; Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois; southern Indiana and Illinois to southeastern North Carolina, central Florida, and southern Arkansas; southern Florida; Chipola and Appalachicola River valleys; southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi; and more. Basically, they are found in many areas of the US.
Miscellaneous Information Racers are preyed on by birds, dogs, cats, and coyotes.

Genus Masticophis (coachwhips and whipsnakes)

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology (etymology)
Physical Appearance Coachwhips are distinguished by their smooth scales. Usually, these snakes have a dark coloring on their backs with a red/pink underside. The colors are helpful for camouflage. Size is from 91.4 to 259 cm SVL. Specific coloring and marking depends on the subspecies. Eastern coachwhips have a very dark back. Sonoran coachwhips in the northern part of the range have black bands and smaller red bands as markings. Those in the south have no markings. Western coachwhips have some pink on their underside with three color patterns. Baja California coachwhips can be yellow, red, light grey, black, or dark gray. Whipsnakes grow to 36-72 inches. The back is dark brown to gray/blue, and markings consist of grey to white stripes.
Life Cycle Coachwhips have a gestation period of about 77.5 days. As hatchlings, they are 27.9 to 35.6 cm long. They also have different markings than the adults - the color is usually tan or brown, and the markings are white spots on their noses. The mating season is from June to Augus. When mating, males will participate in aggressive tongue-flicking to assert dominance. This behavior can last from 4-90 minutes, while the actual mating part takes 15-130 minutes. Females breed with multiple males within one breeding period. Males seem to not like this and some males will defend a female from other males. Eggs are laid in animal burrows. Maturity is reached after 1 year for males and 3 years for females. Females lay between 2-24 eggs per clutch (avg. 11). There is no parental care after eggs hatch. The average lifespan for theses snakes is about 13 years in the wild. Whipsnakes lay 3-12 eggs in spring or summer. The incubation period is two to three months, and the young are around 14 inches longs.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Coachwhip snakes live in dry, open areas, including deserts, prairies, scrublands, juniper-grass-lands, woodlands, thorn-forests, farmlands, creek valleys, chaparral, and sometimes swamps. They use crops on farms, foliage, and rocks for coverage. Whipsnakes live in open woodlands near mountains, as well as deserts, grassland, near ponds, and river edges. Diet: Coachwhips eat lizards, other snakes, insects, birds, eggs, and amphibians. Foraging for food occurs during midday. They are not venomous and instead rely on their speed to catch prey. Whipsnakes eat amphibians, snakes, lizards, birds, eggs, and rodents. Younger ones eat insects, crickets, locusts, and cicadas. Prey is caught through vision and scent.
Behavior and Locomotion Coachwhip snakes are diurnal and are most actuvei during 8:00 am to 11:30 am as well as 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. They are still active when their body temperatures reach 36 degrees Celsius. Hibernation occurs during the winter. Coachwhips can climb trees and swim to avoid threats. Males are only territorial/aggressive during mating season. Communication occurs through sight, touch, and smell. Like many other snakes/lizards/other reptiles, coachwhips use their vomeronasal organ to pick up chemicals in the environment. When threatened, they will coil and vibrate or climb a tree. They are very fast and can outrun many potential predators. Their camouflage also helps them hide. Whipsnakes, like coachwhips are very fast so when threatened they will usually run away. If they cannot run, they will strike and try to bite the threat.
Conservation Status and Efforts Coachwhips are of least concern. Some threats to their well-being include habitat loss and vehicles. They are often killed on highways by getting hit by cars and trucks.
Distribution Coachwhips can be found in the US and Mexico. Their range extends from San Francisco to North Carolina, as far north as Kansas and Kentucky, and as far south as Durango, Mexico. They are not found on either side of the Mississippi River. Different subspecies can be found in specific locations throughout the US and Mexico. Whipsnakes can be found from central Texas and Mexico to Arizona, Utah, Nevada, northern California, Oregon, and Washington.
Miscellaneous Information Coachwhips are the fastest snakes in North America with a maximum speed of 5.8 kph. Some predators include coyotes and owls.

Genus Opheodrys (green snakes)

This genus consists of two species (smooth green snake and rough green snake).

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology (etymology)
Physical Appearance The rough green snake has keeled scales, while the smooth green snake has smooth scales. Both species usually have a solid green back with a cream to yellow colored ventral side. The size has an average of 947 mm for females and 892 mm for males. There is no difference in color/markings for females and males. The average weight for females is 26.7 g and the average weight for males is 16.3 g. The young look like lighter versions of the adults. The snakes' peritoneum (which apparently is "the serous membrane lining the cavity of the abdomen and covering the abdominal organs" (from Google)) is black and dense to keep the snakes from becoming too hot.
Life Cycle The embryos of these snakes are relatively well-developed when they are laid, so the incubation period is short. This is helpful for survival because predators have a smaller window during which they can attack and eat the eggs. The size of eggs ranges from 21.4 to 33.6 mm long, 9.3 to 11.1 mm wide, and 1.2 to 2.4 g in weight. Green snakes grow the most in their first year of aliveness. Males employ crawling, chin rubbing, tail waving, and head jerking. The actual mating part is pretty fast. Maturity is reached at 21 months for males and 21-33 months for females. The mating season is during the spring but some snakes mate in the fall. The gestation period is 5-12 weeks depending on the temperature. Eggs are laid during June/July in trees, decaying logs, under rocks, or under boards in sandy soil. . Each clutch contains 3-12 eggs. There is no parental care after eggs are laid. Average life expectancy is 5 years.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Green snakes live in dense, low-lying vegetation near water such as ponds or lakes. They are arboreal but they spend time near the water source during the day and climb trees at night. Common habitats include deciduous trees, shrubs, hedgerows, and fields. Diet: Green snakes eat crickets, grasshoppers, other insects, and spiders. They have great vision (much better than me *looks at my glasses*) that allows them to quickly find prey. Even a small movement will be seen by green snakes. When a target is identified, a green snake will first approach using fast and irregular movements. When they are closer, they will move using their body as a spring, propelling their head towards the prey.
Behavior and Locomotion Green snakes are arboreal and diurnal. However, during the day, they are more likely found on the ground. They only climb trees during the night. When threatened, they will not bite and will instead flee into vegetation and use their camouflage to survive. They are not active during the winter (usually from December to February) and they hibernate during this time. Communication occurs through chemicals and sight.
Conservation Status and Efforts Green snakes are of least concern. Even though they are popular in the pet trade, there are no adverse effects of it on the wild green snake population.
Distribution Green snakes are found in the US from New Jersey along the East Coast to Florida and from Oklahoma and Texas, southern Canada, and northern Mexico.
Miscellaneous Information Green snakes are preyed on by larger snakes, birds, cats, and some spiders.

Genus Elaphe (rat snakes)

If I counted correctly, this genus contains 16 species.

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology (etymology)
Physical Appearance Rat snakes are on the easier side to identify if you can see their heads because the heads are really square and blocky. They can grow up to 108 inches. Rat snakes have lots of vertebrae, ribs, and ventral scales, but not as many dorsal scales. Dorsal scales are slightly keeled. Their bellies are flat, making the cross-section of the snake look like a loaf of bread. Some snakes' bellies even curve upward. This helps them climb trees easier. Elaphe snakes have a modified salivary and digestive gland called the Duvernoy's gland. Its true function is still unknown. It may be a primitive version of the venom flands in vipers or elapids. The teeth are smooth, small, and slightly curved.
Life Cycle The lifespan of rat snakes is around 15 years, and males typically live longer than females. Maturity is reached after 18-24 months. The mating season for these snakes is in the spring, right after hibernation. Pheromones are used by males to attract females. The gestation period is 1.5 months. Each clutch contains up to 30 eggs. Eggs are laid in a rotten log or in sandy soil under a rock. Rat snakes choose areas that are moist and not too hot. The incubation period is 9 weeks. Most females will leave the nest after laying the eggs but some females will stay with the eggs during the incubation period.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Rat snakes live in sand/loose soil, in wooded areas, on rocky hillsides, on flat farmlands, and near rivers/other sources of water. The specific habitat depends on the species. They are considered terrestrial or semiarboreal. Diet: Rat snakes eat rodents, bird eggs, young birds, small lizards, and small frogs. Some species of rat snakes only eat once every couple of days. Rat snakes wait for the prey comes close to attack. Because they are constrictors, they coil around the prey until it dies. There is no biting or chewing involved.
Behavior and Locomotion Rat snakes can see and hear better than many other snakes. Most species are diurnal but some are nocturnal/crepuscular. Hibernation occurs from October to April in rock crevices, rock faults, burrows, rotting logs, roots of trees, and hollow spaces in trees. Some species may hibernate with other snakes such as rattlesnakes, racers, and bull snakes. When threatened, they may freeze. Others will coil their bodies and vibrate their tails. They may also release a musk or bite. Rat snakes move using a serpentine movement. Because they use their scales to grab onto rough surfaces to move, the smoother the surface the harder it is for them to move.
Conservation Status and Efforts (conservation status/efforts)
Distribution Rat snakes can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, as well as South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Northern Australia.
Miscellaneous Information (miscellaneous)

Genus Pituophis (pine, bull and gopher snakes)

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology The subspecies name of bull snakes is in honor of the American naturalist Thomas Say.
Physical Appearance Pine snakes are large, from 91 to 254 cm in length and up to 5 cm in diameter. Hatchlings are from 30-58 cm in length. They are the second-largest snakes in northeastern North America. Pine snakes have a cartilaginous keel in front of the glottis which helps amplify hissing sounds to make them sound more like rattlesnakes. They have a pointed snout and the head looks like a turtle's. The scales are keeled in 27-37 rows. They have 4 prefrontal scales instead of 2. Colors can vary between species, including a white, cream, gray, brown, or rusty-brown background with black, brown, or reddish-brown spots/blotches. Younger pine snakes are of a duller color than adults and their colors begin to get more bright after they shed once. Bull snakes range from 4-6 ft (1.2 to 1.8 m), with a maximum recorded length of 8 ft 4 inches. They can weight up to 4.5 kg (avg. 1-1.5 kg). The colors of this snake include yellow, brown, white, or black with reddish blotching. They have black bands on the tail with large blotches on the back and smaller spots on the side. The color and markings of this snake may confuse people into thinking that it is a rattlesnake. They are not. Gopher snakes range from 180-275 cm. Their eyes are large compared to other snakes of the same body size. The background color is light tan to gray with brown or black blotches. Some can be striped or albino. Most markings depend on the surrounding environment to camouflage better. The ventral side is white to yellow, occasionally with darker spots. On their face they have a dark line in front of the eyes and from behind the eyes to the jaw. Their scales are keeled and are arranged in 27037 rows at their midbody. They can be confused for rattlesnakes but they are not rattlesnakes.
Life Cycle Pine snakes are oviparous. The incubation period is from 51-100 days. Males mate with multiple females. These snakes breed every year in the spring. Gestation lasts 28-39 days. Eggs are laid from May to July in underground burrows or under rocks and logs. Some pine snakes share nests, but some do not. Each clutch contains 3-24 eggs. Eggs hatch in August or September. Maturity is reached after 3 years. Parental care is not involved after the eggs are laid. Bull snakes breed in March or April. Eggs are laid from April to June. Each clutch contains 5-12 eggs (avg. 12). The eggs are up to 7- mm long and hatch in August or September. Juveniles are 20-46 cm. Gopher snakes are oviparous. The incubation period is from 65-75 days. The young are 30-35 cm in length when hatched. During the mating season (from June to August), females release pheromones that males detect. Males will mate with as many females as possible within one mating season. Each clutch contains 2-24 eggs, and females can lay up to 2 clutches every year. Maturity is reached in 4 years for females and in 1.5 years for males. Nests can be communal. After eggs are laid, there is no parental care.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: Pine snakes live in pine barrens, mixed scrub pine/oak woods, dry rocky mountains, sand hills, old fields, and disturbed areas. Males live near logs and bark while females live under oak leaves. They can be found from 0 to 152.4 m in elevation. Gopher snakes live in woodlands, deserts, fields, prairies, chaparral, shrublands, marshes, moist woodlands, grassland, and forest edges. They are often found in moist habitats. Diet: Pine snakes eat birds, mammals, such as mice, rats, squirrels, and gophers, reptiles, and eggs. Bull snakes eat mice, moles, rats, gophers, squirrels, rabbits, birds, eggs, frogs, and lizards. They are good climbers and will climb trees to eat bird eggs. Unlike me, these snakes can eat 5 birds in 15 minutes. Gopher snakes eat small mammals (such as gophers *cough cough wink wink*, voles, mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits), birds, lizards (ex. side-blotched lizards), small snakes (ex. rattlesnakes), insects, bats, and eggs. They use constriction to catch and eat their prey.
Behavior and Locomotion Pine snakes are mainly diurnal. They are active from late March or April to late October/November. Hibernation occurs in underground burrows. Aestivation can occur during the summer. Pine snakes' pointy snout allows them to quickly burrow into the soil or sand to hide from predators, escape the heat, find food, and build nests. Pine snakes can climb. During breeding season, males are known to fight each other. When threatened, pine snakes will hiss, making themselves sound like rattlesnakes, or attack the threat. Bull snakes will first freeze when they feel they are threatened, which is often because they think that anything moving is a threat if it seems inedible. If they cannot run fast enough to run away from the threat, they will rear up and try to look as big as possible while hissing. This hissing sound can sound like a rattlesnake's because of a piece of cartilage that hands near the glottis. To really look like a rattlesnake, they will strike a nice rattlesnake-like pose and vibrate its tail in some leaves. Gopher snakes are diurnal and live alone in dens or other areas with shelter. They can spend up to 90% of their time underground. These snakes also swim and climb. There is minimal communication between different gopher snakes. One exception is during the breeding season when females release pheromones. The vomeronasal organ is used to sense the surrounding environment. When threatened, they will mimic rattlesnakes by shaking their tails. However, this can get them killed by dumb humans who believe that the gopher snake is a rattlesnake even though they have no rattle. Their main line of defense is camouflage.
Conservation Status and Efforts Pine snakes are of least concern, but some subspecies, such as the black pine snake, the common pine snake, and the Florida pine snake, are protected by state laws. Habitat destruction is the leading cause of decline in pine snake population. Gopher snakes are of least concern.
Distribution Pine snakes can be found in southern New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New York, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Canada, and Mexico. Bull snakes are found throughout the US, central and northern Mexico, and in southern Canada. Gopher snakes are found from British Columbia and Alberta through central and western US and south to Baja California, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, and Tamaulipas in Mexico. In the US, gopher snakes are found from the West coast to Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and western Texas.
Miscellaneous Information Pine snakes are preyed on by shrews, raccoons, skunks, foxes, dogs, cats, and snakes. Gopher snakes contain 11 subspecies. They are preyed on by foxes, hawks, coyotes, and king snakes.

Genus Lampropeltis (king and milk snakes)

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology The name "Lampropeltis" comes from the Greek words "lampro" meaning "shiny" and "pelte" meaning "shield". The name was given because of the snakes' smooth, shiny dorsal scales. The common name king snake comes from the fact that they eat other snakes.
Physical Appearance King snakes can be different colors and have different markings depending on the species. The most common ones are brightly colored with red, yellow/white, and black stripes. However, some can have brown or black and white stripes, speckles, or blotches. Some species, such as the scarlet king snake, have coloring and markings that resemble the venomous coral snake. Size ranges from 40-50 cm (16-20 in), but some can grow to 6 ft.
Life Cycle King snakes are oviparous. The mating season depends on the habitat of the snakes; those in warmer areas breed faster, usually in early spring, than those in colder climates (they usually wait until late spring/early summer). Females can lay more than one clutch per year. Each clutch contains 3-24 eggs which are laid in debris, rotting logs, or other sheltered places. Mates are found through pheromones. Parental care is not included in the 'live as a king snake' package. Maturity is reached between 2-4 years and they can live for 20-30 years in captivity.
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Habitat: King snakes live in forests, grasslands, deserts, urban areas, under wood/lumber, trash piles, barns, stone walls, railroads, stumps, swamps, marshes, dikes, or sunny clearings. The habitat varies among species/subspecies. Diet: King snakes eat other snakes (the behavior of eating other snakes is called "ophiophagy"), lizards, rodents, birds, and eggs. They are constrictors and some species can exert enormous amounts of force relative to body size. Scientists believe that the large amount of force may be because the food that they eat (snakes) can live for longer with less oxygen than mammals. The common king snake is immune to rattlesnake venom.
Behavior and Locomotion King snakes are mostly nocturnal, but can be diurnal in places with moderate climates. When threatened, king snakes will release a musk and shake their tails. They also use camouflage and mimicry to avoid being killed. King snakes may bite but they are not venomous.
Conservation Status and Efforts King snakes are generally not endangered, but some species are due to their small ranges. Populations may be declining because of fire ants eating eggs or young.
Distribution King snakes are found from southeastern Canada to southern Ecuador. Common king snakes (Lampropeltis getula) are the only king snakes found in North America. This species contains 7 subspecies.
Miscellaneous Information Because these snakes look so much like the venomous coral snakes, there are some mnemonics to help people identify between the two easily, including "Red on black, friend of Jack; red on yellow, kill a fellow" and "Red on yellow kill a fellow. Red on black venom lack". Both of these reference the fact that milk/king snakes will have their red stripes touching black stripes, while coral snakes will have their red stripes touching yellow stripes. The type of mimicry they use is called Batesian mimicry. King snakes are preyed on by birds and tarantulas.

Genus Tantilla (crowned and blackhead snakes)

Alternate names (alternate names)
Etymology (etymology)
Physical Appearance Crowned snakes are normally tan to brown with a black band 3-5 scales wide on the neck. The scales of the Crowned snake are smooth with 15 dorsal scale rows at mid body. It has a round pupil and divided anal. They are small and slender 5.2-9.6 inches (13.3-24.5 cm) in length. Juvenile snakes exhibit the same morphology as adults. WHen they hatch, they are around 3 inch (7.6 cm) Blackhead snakes are uniformly brown in color except for its blackhead and a cream-colored/white collar. A brown reddish stripe is located on the belly, running down to the center of the ventral scales. The blackhead snake grows to a maximum of 15 inches (38 cm).
Life Cycle Blackhead snakes tend to live from 20-30 years, in captivity and in the wild. They are oviparous and lay a clutch up to 3 eggs in late spring or early summer. Hatchlings tend to emerge in late summer. Crowned snakes lay 1-3 egggs from May- August in decaying pine logs which hatch from August - September. Upon hatching, the hatchlings largely resemble the adults with a length of about 3.5 inches. Crowned snakes are also oviparous
Ecology, Habitat and Diet Crowned snakes are found throughout the costal plain from Florida. However, they are not found in southern Gerogia. Outside the Costal Plain, they are not found very often. Crowned snakes are found in a variety of habitats but usually under rocks, logs, leaf litter and other ground debris. Commonly, they are found in sandhills and pine forests. Diet: Crowned snakes are insectivores, feeding on insect larvae snails spider, and mostly centipede. Blackhead snakes are commonly found in southeastern Arizona at higher altitudes of 3,200' to 6,000. Crowned snakes tend to inhabit desertscrub, semidesert grassland, and lower evergreen woodland communities. They are usually found on sloping bajdas and low valley bottoms. Diet: Blackhead snakes eat soft bodied insects and centipedes being an insectivore
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Family Elapidae (coral snakes)

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Family Hydrophiidae (sea snakes)

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Family Viperidae (subfamily viperinae) (pit vipers)

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Genus Agkistrodon (copperheads and cottonmouths)

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Genus Sistrurus (massasaugas and pigmy rattlesnakes)

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Genus Crotalus (rattlesnakes)

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