Skip to Content

Snakes in California

There are 75 different types of snakes in California, three being invasive to the state. Some of the snakes on this list are subspecies, with only minor differences. Subspecies of snakes are always being discovered and often have not been researched as thoroughly.

Rattlesnakes are one of the only snakes in the state that are venomous and can harm humans. A rattle on their tail can alert you of their presence,but camouflage coloring can make them hard to see sometimes. Sea snakes are also venomous but they are more rare.

Most of the snakes in the state are harmless, but have wonderful colors and patterns to see.The variety of habitats in California make it ideal for herping. Deserts, forests and other common habitats give you an opportunity to find a variety of snakes.

On this list you will find all the species of snake found in California, so it can help you identify some you see.

Snakes in California

1. Northern Rubber Boa

Coiled Northern Rubber Boa Snake (Charina bottae)
Coiled Northern Rubber Boa Snake (Charina bottae)
  • Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Charina bottae
  • Other Names: Coastal Rubber Boa
  • Adult Size: 21 to 30 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 to 40 years
  • Average Price Range: $150 to $300

Northern Rubber Boas can be found in the northern mountains and forests of California, often under rocks and logs. Being nocturnal they prefer night and colder temperatures. It’s skin is like rubber and it’s body is stout. Common colors are brown, tan, olive-green, yellow and orange.

2. Southern Rubber Boa

Southern Rubber Boa (Charina umbratica) by Jonathan Hakim
Southern Rubber Boa (Charina umbratica) by Jonathan Hakim
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Charina umbratica
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 19 to 25 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $150 to 300

Southern Rubber Boas are found in parts of Southern California. They are smooth skinned, with no pattern and have uniform color. Their tails are short and blunt, sometimes with scars.

3. Rosy Boa

Coastal Rosy Boad (Lichanura orcutti) by Greg Schechter
Coastal Rosy Boad (Lichanura orcutti) by Greg Schechter
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Lichanura orcutti
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 17 to 34 in
  • Lifespan: 30 years
  • Average Price Range: $24 to $100

Rosy Boas appear in many varying colors, but gets its name from the pink and salmon pink colorization. Three stripes run down the back and sides of the snake in some.They are one of the smallest snakes in the Boidae family, and are popular pets due to their calm nature.

4. Desert Glossy Snake

Juvenile Desert Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans eburnata) by Kerry Matz
Juvenile Desert Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans eburnata) by Kerry Matz
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Arizona elegans eburnata
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 26 to 50 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $50

Desert Glossy snakes live in California deserts. Their skin is brown or yellow, with dark splotches to blend in with the landscape. It’s head is small and pointed, with a long body and white stomach.

5. California Glossy Snake

  • Experience Level: Beginner to intermidiate 
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Arizona elegans occidentalis
  • Other Names: Glossy Snake
  • Adult Size: 26 to 50 inches 
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Price Range:  $50 

The California Glossy Snake lives in hills and grasslands. They are tan with brown blotches, and have circular eyes. In the daytime they hide under rocks and go into their burrows; in the night or early dawn is when they are most active.

6. Mohave Glossy Snake

  • Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Arizona elegans candida
  • Other Names: Glossy Snake
  • Adult Size: 25 to 50 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $50

Mohave Glossy Snakes have tan coloring with brown and black spots. They are common to see in the western deserts and have long slender bodies.

7. Colorado Desert Shovel-nosed Snake

Colorado Desert Shovel-nosed Snake (Chionactis occipitalis annulata) by Greg Schechter
Colorado Desert Shovel-nosed Snake (Chionactis occipitalis annulata) by Greg Schechter
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Chionactis annulata annulata
  • Other Names: Shovel nosed snake
  • Adult Size: 11 to 17 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The Colorado Desert Shovel-nosed snake lives in Imperial County and San Diego deserts, spending most of its time underground. Their bodies are a white creamy color, with orange and black rings going down its back.

8. Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake

Mohave shovel-nosed snake,Chionactis occipitalis occipitalis
Mohave shovel-nosed snake,Chionactis occipitalis occipitalis
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Chionactis occipitalis
  • Other Names: Tucson Shovel-nosed Snake
  • Adult Size: 10 to 17 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The Mohave Shovel-nosed snake is light in color, (white/yellow) with dark bands going down its back. It moves quickly while doing a s shaped motion.

9. San Joaquin Coachwhip

  • Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber flagellum ruddocki
  • Other Names: Coachwhip
  • Adult Size: 36-66 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Average Price Range: $50 to $150

The San Joaquin coachwhip is found in dry open areas, usually during the daytime. When handled or threatened they will strike but they are not venomous. Their camouflage and color looks similar to dirt.

10. Red Racer

Red racer (Coluber flagellum piceus) at Joshua Tree national park
Red racer (Coluber flagellum piceus) at Joshua Tree national park
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber flagellum piceus
  • Other Names: Red Coachwhip
  • Adult Size: 36 to 66 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $50 to $150

The Red Racer is able to withstand high temperatures, and is often found hunting in the middle of the day. The name comes from its light brownish to pink coloring. Dark splotches with white are also sometimes present.

11. Western Yellow-bellied Racer

Western Yellow-bellied Racer (Coluber constrictor mormon) in a bunch on dirt by J Maughn
Western Yellow-bellied Racer (Coluber constrictor mormon) in a bunch on dirt by J Maughn
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber constrictor mormon
  • Other Names: Western Racer
  • Adult Size: 20 to 75 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $40

The Western yellow-bellied racer is a lengthy traveler, and can be found all across California. During the day they hunt in grassy and desert areas. Brown is the base color with a yellow belly.

12. Baja California Coachwhip

Baha California Coachwhip (Coluber fuliginosus)
Baha California Coachwhip (Coluber fuliginosus) by Jesus Gordollomi Butterball RC
  • Experience Level:Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber fuliginosus
  • Other Names: Baja Coachwhip
  • Adult Size: 24 to 52 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 to 20 year
  • Average Price Range: $40

This snake is mostly found in Baja California but can sometimes be found in parts of San Diego. It has two colorizations. Only the dark brown variant can be found in the U.S. They are slender and fast moving, with smooth braided scales.

13. Desert Striped Whipsnake

Desert Striped Whipsnake (Coluber Masticophis taeniatus taeniatus) curled up
Desert Striped Whipsnake (Coluber Masticophis taeniatus taeniatus) curled up
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber taeniatus
  • Other Names: Striped whipsnake
  • Adult Size: 24 to 52 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $40 to $60

Desert striped whip appear in California deserts,  by the Nevada border. They are dark brown with a lighter yellow color on their tail. The white lines going down their body make it easy to identify them. Foliage is where they love to be around.

14. California Striped Racer

California striped racer (Coluber lateralis lateralis) on dried brush
California striped racer (Coluber lateralis lateralis) on dried brush – source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber lateralis lateralis
  • Other Names: California whipsnake
  • Adult Size: 30 to 48 inches
  • Lifespan: 8 years
  • Average Price Range: $50

The California Striped Racer is dark and has thin white lines down its back. Spots occur under the head and neck, unlike other racers. These snakes are fast and really are aggressive when aggravated.

15. Alameda Striped Racer

Almedia Racer (Coluber lateralis euryxanthus) found while hiking in the Sunol Regional Wilderness in Alameda County, California by Philipp Bouchard
Almedia Racer (Coluber lateralis euryxanthus) found while hiking in the Sunol Regional Wilderness in Alameda County, California by Philipp Bouchard
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber lateralis euryxanthus
  • Other Names: Alameda whipsnake
  • Adult Size: 3 to 4 feet long
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The Alameda Striped Racer is endemic to California and is considered a threatened species. They live near the coast and rocky hills, often seen scavenging for food during the day.They ae black, with orange stripes going down their back, and orange spotted bellies.

16. Forest Sharp-tailed Snake

Forest Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia longicauda) by David Jahn
Forest Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia longicauda) by David Jahn
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Contia longicauda
  • Other Names: Oregon worm snake
  • Adult Size: 11 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $100

Forest Sharp-tails prefer wet shaded areas. They are found in red wood forests. The snake may be mistaken for a worm, as their bodies are long and heads are small. Their colors can be brown, red, gray and orange.

17. Common Sharp-tailed Snake

Common Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia longicauda)
Common Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia longicauda)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Contia tenuis
  • Other Names: Pacific Brown snake
  • Adult Size: 11 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $100

Common sharp-tailed snakes are similar to Forest sharp-tails, but have a shorter tail. They spend most of their time underground and come out when it becomes damp. Slugs, slug eggs and salamanders are what they feed off of.

18. Pacific Ring-necked Snake

Pacific Ring necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus amabilis) found in Santa Clara County, California
Pacific Ring necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus amabilis) found in Santa Clara County, California
  • Experience Level:Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus amabilis
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 11 to 16 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $100

Pacific ring-necked snakes range from grey to olive color, with an orange underside. It’s tail coils up when threatened to reveal the red on the tail. This species gets its name from the orange ring around its neck.

19. San Bernardino Ring-necked Snake

San Bernardino Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus modestus) in hand by Honathan Hakim
San Bernardino Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus modestus) in hand by Honathan Hakim
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus modestus
  • Other Names:N/A
  • Adult Size: 11 to 16 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $100

Found in the San Bernardino region; this snake is nocturnal, so you are more likely to see it at night. Has an orange ring around its neck.

20. Northwestern Ring-necked Snake

Northwestern Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus occidentalis)
Northwestern Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus occidentalis) – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus occidentalis
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 11 to 16 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range:$30 to $100

This subspecies of ring-necked snake is found along the coast of California, near open woodlands and mountains. It has an orange ring around its neck with a grey body.

21. Coral-bellied Ring-necked Snake

Coral bellied ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus pulchellus) found in Placer county, California
Coral bellied ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus pulchellus) found in Placer county, California – source
  • Experience Level:Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus pulchellus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size:11 to 16 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range:$30 to $100

A subspecies or ring snake found in the western mountains. The orange ring around its neck and  a yellow belly help identify it. 

22. Regal Ring-necked Snake

Regal Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis)
Regal Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis) by Andrew DuBois
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus regalis
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 11 to 34 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range:$30 to $100

This species of ring-necked snake is longer, and sometimes missing the ring around the neck. They are found in the coastal mountains of California and are active at dawn.

23. San Diego Ring-necked Snake

  • Experience Level:Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus similis
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 11 to 30 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $100

This ring necked snake lives in the San Diego region. It keeps the olive-tone body and orange stomachs like other snakes of this type. They are easily handled and easy pets to keep.

24. Monterey Ring-necked Snake

Monterey Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus vandenburgii) by John Sullivan
Monterey Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus vandenburgii) by John Sullivan
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus vandenburgii
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 11 to 16 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $100

Monterey Ring-necked snakes live underground during the day or when hiding. These snakes are secretive in nature, which makes it hard to study. This species is known for its bright orange colors and ring around the neck.

25. Northern Desert Nightsnake

Desert Night Snake ( Hypsiglena chlorophaea) close up by Charles Peterson
Desert Night Snake ( Hypsiglena chlorophaea) close up by Charles Peterson
  • Experience Level: intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Hypsiglena chlorophaea
  • Other Names: Desert Nightsnake
  • Adult Size: 12 to 26 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Average Price Range: $150

The Northern Desert Nightsnake is found in deserts and mountain meadows.  The color scheme matches the dirt ground. Dark blotches also go down it’s back and smooth scales.

26. San Diego Nightsnake

San Diego Night Snake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha klauberi)
San Diego Night Snake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha klauberi)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha klauberi
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 12 to 26 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Average Price Range: $150

This snake is long and slender with a flat head. The stripe on its head does not connect to its nose compared to other night snakes.

27. California Nightsnake

California Nightsnake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha nuchulatta) in attack position by J Maughn
California Nightsnake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha nuchulatta) in attack position by J Maughn
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha nuchulatta
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 12 to 26 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Average Price Range: $150

The California night snake is a nocturnal snake, often hiding under things during the day. They live in deserts and valleys. Places with good cover. They are rear fanged and their saliva is slightly venemous.

28. California Mountain Kingsnake

California Mountain King snake (Lampropeltis zonata) on rock
California Mountain King snake (Lampropeltis zonata) on rock
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis
  • Other Names:
  • Adult Size: 20 to 50 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $80 to $ 200

California Mountain Kingsnakes are medium-sized snakes with a red, black and white pattern of rings on its body.

29. Coast Mountain Kingsnake

Coast Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata multifasciata) found in Santa Cruz County
Coast Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata multifasciata) found in Santa Cruz County by J Maughn
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis multifasciata
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 20 to 50 inches
  • Lifespan:  20 years
  • Average Price Range:$80 to $200

Kingsnakes spend most of their time underground, but can sometimes be spotted during the day. A pattern of red band and black bands cover its body.

30. Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake

Spotted leaf nosed snake (Phyllorhynchus decurtatus)
Spotted leaf nosed snake (Phyllorhynchus decurtatus)
  • Experience Level: intermediate to an advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Phyllorhynchus decurtatus
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size:1 to 2 feet
  • Lifespan:12 years
  • Average Price Range: $50

Spotted leaf nosed snakes are active at night. They can be identified by their blunt stouts, covered by a large scale. It’s skin is grey or tan, with a white underside.

31. California Kingsnake

California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae) on white background
California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae) on white background
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis getula californiae
  • Other Names: Kingsnake
  • Adult Size: 3 to 4 feet
  • Lifespan: 10 to 16 years
  • Average Price Range: $50 to $150

The California Kingsnake is one of the most popular pets because of how easy it is to care for. Kingsnakes live in a wide variety of habitats, such as woodlands or deserts. It is common for this species to have a two color ring pattern.

32. Sonoran Gopher Snake

Sonoran Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis) on gravel
Sonoran Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis) on gravel
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Pituophis catenifer affinis
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 2 to 9 feet long
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range:

Sonoran Gophersnakes live in desert and forest habitats, and are often mistaken for rattlesnakes. The mouth shape of the snake makes its hiss louder and when threatened they will shake their tails.

33. San Diego Gopher Snake

San Diego Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer annectens) on dirt path
San Diego Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer annectens) on dirt path by Chris Morris
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Pituophis catenifer annectens
  • Other Names: Henry snake
  • Adult Size: 2.5 to 9 feet long
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range: $150

Gopher snakes have narrow heads and long bodies. This sub species lives near Southern California. It’s underside is yellow and it’s body is tan, usually with blotches going down it’s back.

34. Pacific Gopher Snake

Pacific Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer)
Pacific Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Pituophis catenifer catenifer
  • Other Names: Coast Gophersnake
  • Adult Size:  3 to 7 feet
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range: $150

Pacific gopher snakes have no venom, but rattle their tails as if they were a rattlesnake.This subspecies  has big spots on its side and less pattern on its back. It keeps the same tan to reddish color to match its various environments.

35. Great Basin Gopher Snake

Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola)
Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Pituophis catenifer deserticola
  • Other Names:  Bull snake
  • Adult Size: 4.5 feet
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range: $250

Great Basin gopher snakes are yellow to pale brown, with dark reddish blotches on their back. They venture out during the day, except in hotter weather.

36. Santa Cruz Island Gophersnake

Santa Cruz Island Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer pumilis)
Santa Cruz Island Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer pumilis) – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Pituophis catenifer pumilus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 2.5 feet
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 year
  • Average Price Range: $150 to $200

The Santa Cruz Island gopher snake is the dwarf subspecies of gopher snake found in California. It’s head is more narrow and this species rarely is longer than 3 feet.

37. Long-nosed Snake

Longnose Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei) in West Texas
Longnose Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei) in West Texas
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Rhinocheilus lecontei
  • Other Names: Texas long-nosed snake
  • Adult Size: 30 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: 70$

Long-nose snakes can be found in deserts and grasslands, identifiable by their uptilited nose. They are tricolored , usually red, black and white. They do not make good pets as they have a tendency to escape.

38. Desert Patched-nosed Snake

Desert Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis deserticola) by JN Stuart
Desert Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis deserticola) by JN Stuart
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Salvadora hexalepis hexalepis
  • Other Names:  Western patch nosed snake
  • Adult Size: 10 to 46 inches
  • Lifespan: 14 years
  • Average Price Range: $60

The desert patch snake is a slender desert dwelling snake that can be found in Southern California. The snake’s body colors are pale grey with yellow stripes going down his body. They are active all day, even when the temperature is high.

39. Mohave Patch-nosed Snake

Mohave Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis) by Jacob Kirkland
Mohave Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis) by Jacob Kirkland
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis
  • Other Names: Western patch nosed snake
  • Adult Size: 26 to 36 inches
  • Lifespan: 14 years
  • Average Price Range: $60

The Mohave patched-nose snake is found in Southern California deserts. It’s Skin is gray, with yellow and black stripes to help it camouflage into the desert terrain. During the day is when they are active.

40. Coast Patch-nosed Snake

  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Salvadora hexalepis virgultea
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 10 to 46 inches
  • Lifespan: 14 years
  • Average Price Range: $60

The large scale on its nose is why it’s called a patch-nosed snake. When provoked it may strike more times than not.

41. Smith’s Black-headed Snake

Smith's Black-headed Snake (Tantilla hobartsmithi)
Smith’s Black-headed Snake (Tantilla hobartsmithi)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Tantilla hobartsmithi
  • Other Names: Black-headed snake
  • Adult Size: 4.5 to 15 inches long
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Smiths’ Black-headed snakes are small, with tan bodies and brown heads. These snakes prefer more moist and arid environments.

42. Western Black-headed Snake

Western Black-headed Snake, (Tantilla planiceps) in Santa Clara Co. CA
Western Black-headed Snake, (Tantilla planiceps) in Santa Clara Co. CA by J Maughn
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Tantilla planiceps
  • Other Names: Black-headed snake
  • Adult Size: 3.5 to 15 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Western Black-headed snakes are slender and long. A ring pattern is often around the snake’s neck, and their heads are all black. They live on the coast Of Southern California, in grasslands and deserts.

43. Variable Ground Snake

Variable Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata)
Variable Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family:Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Sonora semiannulata semiannulata
  • Other Names: Miter snake
  • Adult Size: 8-19 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Average Price Range:

Variable ground snakes are small snakes with smooth glossy scales. This species comes in many colors and patterns. Near lakes or creeks is where this snake can commonly be found.

44. Santa Cruz Garter Snake

Santa Cruz Gartersnake - Thamnophis atratus atratus on forest floor in defensive position
Santa Cruz Gartersnake – Thamnophis atratus atratus on forest floor in defensive position
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis atratus atratus
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 18 to 40 inches
  • Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
  • Average Price Range: 150$

Santa Cruz garter snakes are grey or black, with a yellowish stripe down the back. They like to be in water and can be found in rocky west coast areas.

45. Oregon Gartersnake

Oregon Garter Snake (Thamnophis atratus hydrophilus) by Natalie Mcnear
Oregon Garter Snake (Thamnophis atratus hydrophilus) by Natalie Mcnear
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis atratus hydrophilus
  • Other Names: Aquatic Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 40 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100

Oregon garter snakes are found near grasslands and woodlands,in rocky lakes, ponds and streams. Dark colored dorsal stripes run down its body.

46. Diablo Range Gartersnake

Diablo-Range-Garter-Snake-Garter-snake-Thamnophis-atratus-zaxanthus
Diablo Range Garter Snake (Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 18 to 40 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range:$25 to 100

Diablo Range garter snakes are grey or black, with a blue underside.  A yellow stripe runs  down it’s back and sides.

47. Sierra Garter Snake

Sierra garter snake handled (Thamnophis couchii)
Sierra garter snake handled (Thamnophis couchii)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis couchii
  • Other Names: Couch Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 24 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $200

This species is native to California and Oregon. It has dark patchy scales with yellow on its stomach.

48. Mountain Gartersnake

Mountain Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans elegans) by David Hofmann in Sonoma County California
Mountain Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans elegans) by David Hofmann in Sonoma County California
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis elegans elegans
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 18 to 43 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100

Found near Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California, this snake is active during daytime and lives near meadows and grasslands. It’s color is black with 3 stripes running down it’s back.

49. Coast Garter Snake

Coast Garter Snake (Thamnophis Elegans Terrestris)
Coast Garter Snake (Thamnophis Elegans Terrestris)
  • Experience Level:  Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis elegans terrestris
  • Other Names:
  • Adult Size: 18 to 43 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100 dollars

Coast garter snakes are all black, sometimes with red markings on it. To escape they go underground or in water.

50. Wandering Garter Snake

Wandering Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans) on rock
Wandering Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans) on rock
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis elegans vagrans
  • Other Names: Western terrestrial garter snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 43 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100

This subspecies of Gartersnake is found east of the Sierra mountains. They are a grey color, with light dorsal stripes on it.

51. Giant Garter Snake

Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas) in the Natomas Basin, CA. Photo by Margaret Mantor
Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas) in the Natomas Basin, CA. Photo by Margaret Mantor
  • Experience Level:
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis gigas
  • Other Names:
  • Adult Size: 36 to 65 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100

This subspecies is the largest of any Gartersnake. They have ground like colors such as olive or grey, with two dorsal stripes. This species is semi aquatic and likes grassy wet areas.

52. Two-striped Garter Snake

two-striped garter snake (Thamnophis hammondii) from Santa Barbara County, California
two-striped garter snake (Thamnophis hammondii) from Santa Barbara County, California – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis hammondii
  • Other Names:
  • Adult Size: 18 to 30 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100 dollars

Two-striped garter snakes are dark in color and have striped or spotted skin. This species, when threatened, makes its head in a triangle shape to look more intimidating.

53. Marcy’s Checkered Garter Snake

Marcy's Checkered Gartersnake (Thamnophis marcianus marcianus) by Andrew DuBois
Marcy’s Checkered Gartersnake (Thamnophis marcianus marcianus) by Andrew DuBois
  • Experience Level: Beggimer
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis marcianus marcianus
  • Other Names: Checkered garter snake
  • Adult Size: 13 to 42 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100

This species of garter snake  is usually yellow or tan colored, with dark spots making a checked pattern on its back. They are active during the day near streams and lakes.

54. Northwestern Garter Snake

Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides) being held
Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides) being held
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis ordinoides
  • Other Names:
  • Adult Size: 13 to 38 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range:  $25 to $100

Northwestern garter snakes are dark olive or black, sometimes with a reddish tint. Stripes run down its body, usually  red, yellow or white color. It’s head is small compared to other garter snakes.

55. Valley Garter Snake

Valley Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi) by GregTheBusker
Valley Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi) by Greg TheBusker
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis fitch
  • Other Names: Common garter snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 55 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 25 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100

This garter snake is usually dark brown or black with yellow stripes on it. Garter snakes aren’t venomous but produce toxins in their saliva to kill prey.

56. California Red-sided Garter Snake

California Red-sided Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis) at Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve, Novato, Marin County, California by David Hofman
California Red-sided Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis) at Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve, Novato, Marin County, California by David Hofman
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis
  • Other Names:
  • Adult Size: 18 to 55 inches long
  • Lifespan: 10 to 25 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100

This snake’s most common pattern is blue stripes on a black and red background. It is more slender and has bigger eyes than other garter snakes.

57. San Francisco Gartersnake

San Francisco Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) on wood trunk
San Francisco Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) on wood trunk
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia
  • Other Names:
  • Adult Size: 18 to 55 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 to $100

The Sanfrancisco Gartersnake is considered one of the most beautiful snakes in North America. The stripes on its body are a mix of the colors blue, green, black, and red. They prefer to live in densely vegetated waterways.

58. Sonoran Lyre Snake

Sonoran lyre snake (Trimorphodon lambda)
Sonoran lyre snake (Trimorphodon lambda)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Trimorphodon lambda
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 18 to 47 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: 50$

Found in southeast California, it is named lyresnake because of the v-shaped pattern on its head. It is a light whitish grey color with dark saddles.

59. California Lyresnake

California Lyresnake (Trimorphodon lyrophanes) by Greg Schechter
California Lyresnake (Trimorphodon lyrophanes) by Greg Schechter
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Trimorphodon lyrophanes
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 24 to 38 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $50

The lyre snake produces mild venom but is not dangerous to humans. They are known for their v pattern on their head. They are light tan with dark splotches to help blend in with rocky desert areas.

60. Yellow-bellied Sea Snake

Yellow-bellied Sea Snake (Hydrophis platurus) on beach in sand
Yellow-bellied Sea Snake (Hydrophis platurus) on beach in sand – source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Elapidae
  • Scientific Name: Hydrophis platurus
  • Other Names: Pelagic sea snake
  • Adult Size: 10 to 45 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

Sea snakes are rarely seen in California but sometimes wash up on the far northern coast. Most commonly they have black backs with a bright yellow stomach. They are highly venomous and can kill humans.

61. Southwestern Threadsnake

Southwestern Threadsnake, Rena humilis humilis
Southwestern Threadsnake, Rena humilis humilis
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family: Leptotyphlopidae
  • Scientific Name: Rena humilis humilis
  • Other Names:  Western Blind snake
  • Adult Size: 7 to 16 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $15 to $30

Southwestern threadsnakes are small and darkly colored, similar in appearance to earthworms . It’s skull is thick so it can go underground, which is where it spends most of its time.

62. Desert Threadsnake

Desert Blind Snake (Leptotyphlops humilis cahuilae) by Jonathan Hakim
Desert Blind Snake (Leptotyphlops humilis cahuilae) by Jonathan Hakim
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family: Typhlopidae
  • Scientific Name: Leptotyphlops humilis
  • Other Names: Desert Blind snake
  • Adult Size: 17 to 16 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $15 to $30

 The Threadsnakes skin is smooth and silky, and looks as if it’s wet. They are found in Southern California going towards Mexico, in rocky soils and mountains.

63. Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) coiled to strike
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) coiled to strike
  • Experience Level:Advance
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus atrox
  • Other Names: Texas Diamondback
  • Adult Size: 30 to 90 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $150

Western diamond-backed rattlesnakes have autumn brown or tan bodies with dark splotches going down it’s back. The tip of their tails are black and white striped with a rattle.

64. Mohave Desert Sidewinder

Mojave Desert Sidewinder(Crotalus cerastes)
Mojave Desert Sidewinder(Crotalus cerastes)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus cerastes cerastes
  • Other Names: Horned viper
  • Adult Size: 17 to 33 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

Sidewinders move using the winding motion. Tan camouflaged skin helps them blend into the desert environment. Hooded eyelids help the sidewinder keep sun out of their eyes, and make it look like they got horns.

65. Colorado Desert Sidewinder

Colorado Desert Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes laterorepens) on sand
Colorado Desert Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes laterorepens) on sand
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus cerastes laterorepens
  • Other Names: Horned rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 17 to 33 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Price Range:

Colorado desert sidewinders are a rattlesnake species that live in the Sonoran desert. They are tan with black spots and the base of their rattle is all black.

66. Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake

Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii)
Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii pyrrhus) coiled up
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus mitchellii pyrrhus
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 23 to 52 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 25 years
  • Average Price Range: $150

Southwestern speckled rattlesnakes are grey, tan or pinkish, with long dark rings going down its body. This large snake lives in the rocky deserts of Southern California.

67. Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri) flicking tongue
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri) flicking tongue
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus oreganus helleri
  • Other Names: Black diamond rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 30 to 44
  • Lifespan: 10 to 25 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

Southern Pacific rattlesnakes live in parts of Southern California. Their bodies are thick and their heads are large and triangular in shape.

68. Great Basin Rattlesnake

Great Basin Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus lutosus)
Great Basin Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus lutosus)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus oreganus lutosus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 15 to 65 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Great Basin Rattlesnakes live in dry hilly regions. They are greyish, sometimes brown; and have a large head. Their tails are barred, and lack the white rings of other rattlesnakes.

69. Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus)
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus oreganus
  • Other Names: Pacific Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 39 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 25 years
  • Average Price Range: $300

Northern Pacific rattlesnakes are a less aggressive species of rattlesnake. They are tannish brown with dark splotches to match sand on the ground. Its belly is pale yellow and the base of its rattle is all black.

70. Red Diamond Rattlesnake

Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) in desert in southwestern California
Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) in desert in southwestern California
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus ruber
  • Other Names:  N/A
  • Adult Size:30 to 65 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 25 years
  • Average Price Range: $300

Red Diamond Rattlesnakes are found in southwestern deserts, and are most likely to be seen at night. At birth they are greyish but as they mature they begin to grow more red. Their tails are equipped with a rattle and the base is painted with black and white stripes.

71. Northern Mohave Rattlesnake

Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus)
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus
  • Other Names: Mojave Green Snakes
  • Adult Size: 24 to 41 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 25 years
  • Average Price Range: $300

This rattlesnake is known for being overly aggressive and venomous.They are found in deserts, often near low lying vegetation. Its colors can range from light brown to green, and it is medium in size.

72. Panamint Rattlesnake

Panamint rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii stephensi) in california desert
Panamint rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii stephensi) in california desert
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus stephensi
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 23 to 52 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 25 years
  • Average Price Range: $ 200 to $ 350

The Panamint Rattlesnake lives around hilly mountainous areas in southern California and Nevada. It has a triangle head and rattle on its tail. Its brownish tan skin helps it blend in with the environment.

73. Florida Watersnake

Florida Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata pictiventris)
Florida Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata pictiventris)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia fasciata pictiventris
  • Other Names: Southern watersnake
  • Adult Size: 22 to 40 inches
  • Lifespan: 9 years
  • Average Price Range: $20 to $ 50

Florida Water Snakes are invasive species. They are thick dark snakes with long bodies; found in freshwater rivers and lakes.

74. Common Watersnake

Common water snake
Common water snake (Nerodia sipedon)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia sipedon
  • Other Names: Watersnake
  • Adult Size: 12 to 42 inches
  • Lifespan: 9 years
  • Average Price Range: $90

Found on the east coast of the U.S, it is not known how the Common Watersnake found its way to California. They live near rivers and lakes, feeding off the fish and wildlife to survive. Dark brown or black is the color of their with a yellow underside.

75. Brahminy Blindsnake

Tiny Brahminy Blindsnake (Indotyphlops braminus) coiled around a penny
Tiny Brahminy Blindsnake (Indotyphlops braminus) coiled around a penny
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family: Typhlopidae
  • Scientific Name: Indotyphlops braminus
  • Other Names: Flower pot snake
  • Adult Size: 4.4 to 6.6 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: $30

.The Brahminy Blindsnake is not a native species, but has been introduced to the southern coast of California due to trade and travel. This snake is small and black, similar in appearance to an earthworm.

Wrapping Up

All across California you can find a variety of snakes. Deserts and forests house many species, along with grasslands and rocky mountains. These areas you will have the best luck finding snakes. Many species can be seen at different times of day and seasons, depending on the kind.

Different subspecies can be hard to tell apart since most differences are small. They can often breed with one another, and live in similar regions. If you are looking to get a snake as a pet it is best to see which kind would be best for you. Some snakes are not great in captivity and are harder to care for.

Snakes in other states

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 1 Average: 5]

Table of Contents

Sharing is caring!