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Snakes in Alaska

Legend has it that there are absolutely no snakes in Alaska. If you’re not a fan of snakes or are scared of these slithery beings, you’ll be glad to know that there are no venomous snakes in the entirety of the state.

Alaska is famous for its absence of snakes, but that does not mean there haven’t been any encounters with any ever.

When people think of a place they want to call their permanent home, they might also consider whether or not “pests” will be around. Some people see snakes as pests and truthfully, Alaska is just too cold for snakes.

It is also too cold of a climate for lizards, freshwater turtles, and other reptiles. The only reptiles that have been spotted a few times were sea turtles.

No snake of any species has been documented as native to the state.

However, there have been some who came across snakes before. They aren’t totally estranged from the alienated state.

A single Common Garter Snake was encountered in the Southeastern part of the state near Haines, close to the British Columbian border in 2005.

You can read their findings and notes about its identification here:

Researchers identified and tried to figure out how it got to this snakeless state. In the end, it was predicted that it was either deliberately transported or got here accidentally on a ferry or something of the likes.

This Garter Snake is literally the only wild snake on record in the state of Alaska.

A good thing that comes with a complete absence of snakes is the comfort of not worrying about having to be careful of running into a poisonous snake.

Snakes in Alaska

Here is some more information about Common Garter Snakes in general:

1. Common Garter Snake

Baby Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
Baby Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis
  • Other Names: Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 23 to 30 inches; some can grow to 5 feet
  • Lifespan: 4 to 5 years in the wild; up to 10 years in captivity

Common Garter Snakes are completely harmless to humans.

These guys are usually relatively small and like to remain active during the day. These guys like to soak often, so they will require a bowl in their tank for them to soak in, especially when it comes time to shed.

Garter snakes are great snakes for beginners since they are docile and will not grow to be too large.

Common Garter Snakes can range from dark olive-green to brown or black with a distinctive yellow stripe running throughout the length of their body.

When threatened, they may let off a musk in order to ward off predators. They can be found in many places like marshes, woodlands, meadows, or hillsides.

These snakes feed on leeches, slugs, worms, small fish, amphibians, and even other snakes. They are also immune to toxic frogs that secrete toxins from their skin in order to drive away prey.


Funnily enough, even though there are no snakes documented in the state, it is actually legal to keep them as a pet.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, it is legal to keep any non-venomous snake as a pet in the state.

If you are unsure about the legality or want to learn more, you can e-mail them at [email protected] or call them at (907) 465-4148 to get to the department’s Wildlife Permits Section.

While all non-venomous snakes are legal in the state, you will see most people caring for Cornsnakes, Ball Pythons, or Rubber Boas.

Here is some more information about these popular pet snakes:

2. Corn Snake

Corn Snake
Corn Snake wrapped around branch in enclosure
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Pantherophis guttatus
  • Other Names: Red Rat Snake, Cornsnake
  • Adult Size: 2 to 6 feet
  • Lifespan: 6 to 8 years in the wild; up to 25 years in captivity

Corn Snakes are a type of rat snake, and will sometimes be referred to as red rat snakes. These tiny constrictors can make great first-time snakes since they stay a good size, are docile, non-venomous, and are relatively easy to care for.

Often mistaken for the Copperhead, these snakes have a tan or orange body with red-brown blotches throughout their backs length. Their undersides are cream or white with black spots placed in a way that resembles a checkerboard.

They also have slender heads which are similar to the width of their body.

Corn snakes can be found in forest openings, overgrown fields, and abandoned buildings. They eat whatever small rodents they can find and will also consume amphibians, birds, other snakes, and lizards.

They are constrictors, meaning they strangle their prey, suffocating them before swallowing them whole.

3. Northern Rubber Boa

Northern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae)
Northern Rubber Boa on tree stump (Charina bottae)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Charina bottae
  • Other Names: Coastal Rubber Boa
  • Adult Size: 14 to 33 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 years

These snakes are slow-moving and like sitting around in our warm hands and arms. They are friendly and might actually enjoy being handled.

They get their name from their rubbery skin, which you will notice if you ever hold one. It does feel similar to rubber, but a lot softer.

These snakes come in a tan to grey or brown color tone. Their skin is shiny and their head is quite uniform to the rest of their girth.

They can be found in a range of habitats from coniferous forests to desert lands, but are rarely encountered by humans.

They eat mice and other small mammals, even sometimes feasting on tinier snakes or lizard eggs.

4. Ball Python

Ball Python curled up on white background
Ball Python curled up on white background
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Pythonidae
  • Scientific Name: Python regius
  • Other Names: Python, Royal Python
  • Adult Size: 6 feet
  • Lifespan: 30 years in captivity

The Ball Python is the most popular pet snake to keep in the world. They are shy creatures that can learn to become accustomed to their owners, which makes them suitable for captivity.

They get their name from their defense mechanism of coiling up into a ball when they are feeling threatened.

Ball pythons will either be dark brown with light brown blotches randomly spread throughout their body or cream or tan with yellow splotches in the same pattern. They will typically always have smooth scales.

This species is native to West and Central Africa, so they like shrublands, open forests, and grasslands. They typically like some sort of coverage and will stay close to an open water source in order to cool themselves off in the heat.

They will mostly feed on rats and mice as adults. When they are smaller, they tend to eat crickets and pinkie mice.


If you are a snake lover or enthusiast, Alaska probably is not the best place for you to live as it is too cold for any reptile to live happily.

While there are no wild snakes native to Alaska, people still keep them as pets since it is legal to have non-venomous snakes.

If you live in Alaska and have snakes, let us know more about your experiences in the comment section below.

We’d love to hear more about having a snake in the snakeless Alaska!

Snakes in Other States

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