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Snakes in Colorado

There are 27 types of snakes in Colorado. Among these various species, there are three that are venomous and they are the Western Rattlesnakes, Massasauga, and the Midget Faded Rattlesnake.

While the Midget Faded Rattlesnakes are harder to find since they can only be spotted in the Green River formation 7,000 feet below sea level, they still do exist within the state, which still puts them on our list.

When it comes to keeping snakes in Colorado, there are some native snakes legal to keep as pets in the states. These include Terrestrial Gartersnakes, Plains Gartersnakes, North American Racers, Plains Hognose Snakes, Tiger Whiptails, and Gopher Snakes.

Venomous snakes, however, can only legally be kept under anyone with a commercial wildlife park license.

If a rattlesnake poses a threat to you or the general public, it is legal to kill them. Any other snake would be listed as nongame wildlife, meaning they are protected by the law, making it illegal to kill them.

Illegal possession, whether commercial or non-commercial, is prohibited and regulated by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department.

Now that we know what’s allowed and what’s not when it comes to snakes in Colorado, let’s take a look at what species roam around the area.

Common Snakes in Colorado

Here are some common snakes that roam the state:

1. Yellow-bellied Racer

A juvenile western yellow-bellied (Coluber constrictor mormon) racer hiding in coil
A juvenile western yellow-bellied (Coluber constrictor mormon) racer hiding in coil
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber constrictor mormon
  • Other Names: Western Yellowbelly Racer, Western Racer
  • Adult Size: 20 to 75 inches
  • Lifespan: 7 to 8 years

Yellowbelly Racers usually have large eyes, a broad head with a slender neck, and a long, skinny tail. They are smooth-scaled and are typically blue-gray, brown, or olive green in color.

As you might have guessed by the name, they usually have a yellow or off-white underside.

They like a wide range of habitats like arid or moist environments including sierras, foothills, and plain woodlands.

They feed on insects, amphibians, lizards, other snakes, reptile eggs, birds, and their eggs as well. While they aren’t contractors, they will coil their prey, pinning them down before swallowing them whole.

2. Terrestrial Garter Snake

Wandering Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans)
Wandering Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis elegans vagrans
  • Other Names: Wandering Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 43 inches
  • Lifespan: 6 to 12 years in captivity; 2 years in the wild

Wandering Garter Snakes are typically gray or gray-brown covered in a black checkered pattern and three cream-colored stripes running down the top and sides of their body.

They prefer to inhabit riparian habitats as well as any other areas with moist climates like lakes, ponds, and wet meadows. You can also find them in sagebrush and coniferous forests.

They will hunt for fish, mollusks, tadpoles, and amphibians in water but will also eat insects like grasshoppers, as well as small vertebrates like birds, reptiles, and mice.

3. Plains Garter Snake

Plains Garter snake on dirt curled up (Thamnophis radix)
Plains Garter snake on dirt curled up (Thamnophis radix)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis radix
  • Adult Size: 16 to 28 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 years; sometimes up to 8 years

These non-venomous snakes are friendly by nature, making them a great pet for beginners. They are also relatively small, meaning they aren’t fussy and are easy to care for.

They are black with a distinctive, long yellow or orange stripe running along the whole length of their body. They eat anything they can get their jaws around including amphibians, worms, fish, eggs, and rodents.

They make great garden snakes since they will help you by eating and bugs or other pests.

They enjoy environments that are moist and grassy such as the areas found around streams and lakes.

4. Blackneck Garter Snake

Western Black-Necked Garter Snake (Thamnophis Cyrtopsis)
Western Black-Necked Garter Snake (Thamnophis Cyrtopsis)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis
  • Other Names: Black-necked Gartersnake, Blackneck Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 42 inches; 3.5 feet
  • Lifespan: 10 years in captivity; 4 to 5 in the wild

These diurnal beings are quite active when the sun is out and can live in a wide range of temperatures and habitats. They like to bask on rocks during the winter to get some warmth from the sun. 

They can live anywhere from forested mountains to arid deserts, but prefer to be near a good water source at all times no matter where they settle.

Blackneck Garter Snakes are typically dark olive or seemingly black in color with a yellow or orange stripe going right down the middle of their back. Some individuals may have a checkered black and white pattern along each of their sides. Their undersides usually are cream or light gray.

These snakes will hunt rivers for amphibians or small fish, but they will also eat other snakes, earthworms, as well as other invertebrates.

5. 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.

6. Western Ribbon Snake

Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus)
Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis proximus
  • Other Names: Ribbon Snake
  • Adult Size: 16 to 35 inches
  • Lifespan: 10+ years in captivity; wild lifespan unknown

Ribbonsnakes are the most common species of Garter Snakes there are. These shy, non-poisonous snakes make popular pets due to their many morph options and the fact that they are not dangerous to keep.

Western Ribbonsnakes are the best tempered out of all the subspecies of Ribbonsnakes and can make good pets for novice snake keepers when bought from a reputable pet store where they are captive-bred, of course.

Ribbonsnakes are usually slender-bodied, tan or dark brown with prominent light-colored stripes throughout their length which is usually a bright or pale yellow.

Western Ribbonsnakes are semi-aquatic creatures and can be found mostly near a water source like the shorelines of rivers or lakes. They will sometimes inhabit water edges near forests or wetlands.

They are carnivorous and feed on small fish, insects, and tadpoles.

7. Lined Snake

Lined Snake (Tropidoclonion)
Lined Snake (Tropidoclonion)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Tropidoclonion
  • Adult Size: 8 to 12 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 10 years

We do not know much about Lined Snakes except that they are closely related to Garter Snakes, which help give us a little more information about these cute little critters.

These nocturnal snakes can often be found in urbanized areas, often discovered in parks, grassy areas, vacant lots, and under debris. They might also inhabit grasslands, abandoned prairies, woodland passages, oak forests, and suburban or residential areas.

They like to hide or find places to take shelter and will emit a musk if they are discovered or captured. They will rarely try to attack or bite someone.

They will often hide under leaf litter, rocks, or might burrow in the soil.

These tiny snakes basically look like mini Garter Snakes with brown or gray-brown bodies and dark stripes that can range from olive-gray to different ranges of grays.

Their undersides are cream-colored with two rows of gray blotches or spots. You may also find half-moons along their midline.

8. Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon)
Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia sipedon
  • Other Names: Watersnake, Northern Watersnake
  • Adult Size: 24 to 55 inches
  • Lifespan: 9 years

Northern Water Snakes are popular pets since they do not require much effort and are relatively safe, even around children. They can also grow fairly large in size.

They are usually dark in color, ranging from brown, tan, to gray, and have keeled scales. They also have square blotches on their backs and sides that may alternate or become bands throughout their length.

Water Snakes typically live in or near aquatic habitats which is why they are called water snakes. They like to bask on rocks by still or slow-moving water such as seasonal pools, lakes, and ponds.

You might see them swimming and hunting the waters as well.

They like to eat fish and amphibians, swallowing them whole and alive. They eat all kinds of fish species such as smallmouth bass, minnows, bullhead catfish, hogsuckers, sunfish, and brook trout.

9. Variable Ground Snake

Western Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata) in Western Texas
Western Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata) in Western Texas
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Sonora semiannulata
  • Other Names: Western Ground Snake, Ground Snake, Common Ground Snake
  • Adult Size: 8 to 19 inches
  • Lifespan: an estimated 15 years

Ground Snakes will vary in color depending on the individual. Some may be brown, red, or orange. They will usually have a black banding with orange or brown blotches that look like stripes.

Their undersides are solid white or gray. They have smooth scales, round pupils, and a smaller head.

They like to inhabit arid environments that have loose, sandy soil or rocky areas like low desert shrubbery, rims of canyons, outcroppings, and slopes.

It is hard to run into these snakes since they are always hiding in debris, but they will usually come out when the sun is about to set. They have been spotted on desert roads before.

Ground Snakes eat invertebrates like spiders, centipedes, crickets, scorpions, and larvae.

10. Smooth Green Snake

Juvenile Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis)
Juvenile Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Opheodrys vernalis
  • Other Names: Green Snake
  • Adult Size: 14 to 20 inches
  • Lifespan: 6 years

While you can find these snakes out in the wilderness, they are rarely encountered due to their timid nature.

Smooth Green snakes can make great pets for any owner that is a little squeamish about feeding them dead rodents. These guys will mostly eat insects like spiders, moths, ants, snails, slugs, worms, and spineless caterpillars.

However, it is said that they do not make great pets since they are way too timid for human interaction. However, they are harmless and some enjoy being handled.

They can be found in open woods, stream edges, marshes, and meadows. They thrive in moist, grassy areas.

As you can already tell by their name, these snakes will be a bright green, which can range in shade. They stay relatively small and may have a pale yellow underside with beady eyes.

These are not the easiest snakes to keep captive since they are very anxious and easily stressed out.

11. Glossy Snake

Common Glossy Snake flicking tongue (Arizona elegans)
Common Glossy Snake flicking tongue (Arizona elegans)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Arizona elegans
  • Other Names: Faded Snake
  • Adult Size: 30 to 50 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 18 years

These slow-slithering, nocturnal beings look very similar to gopher snakes with pointed, narrow heads and similar coloration.

They have tan to light brown bodies with a faded look, hence their names, and brown blotches all throughout their length. Their undersides are typically cream or pale yellow in color and they have shiny-looking scales, giving them an almost glossy finish.

They are fairly large in size and are pretty easy-going, making them good pets as well.

They like to inhabit dry areas such as grasslands, deserts, sagebrush, chaparral, and pine-juniper.

They mainly feed on vertebrates such as lizards, rodents, smaller snakes, smaller birds, and sometimes insects. They consume their prey by constricting them with their tight grip, suffocating them, then eating them whole.

12. Texas Blind Snake

Texas Blind Snake (Leptotyphlops dulcis)
Texas Blind Snake (Leptotyphlops dulcis)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Leptotyphlopidae
  • Scientific Name: Leptotyphlops dulcis, Rena dulcis
  • Other Names: Texas Slender Blind Snake, Texas Threadsnake
  • Adult Size: between 3 to 13 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 18 years

While you can keep these as pets, they are a very secretive species with specific care requirements. They are nocturnal beings that prefer to live underground and do not like coming out into the light, which is why we don’t know much about them.

They basically look like your typical earthworm. They might be pink, tan, light or dark brown, black, and even gray in color.

Texas Blind Snakes will often frequent ant burrows and termite hills where they will eat these insects as well as their eggs, pupae, and larvae.

13. Great Plains Rat Snake

Great Plains Ratsnake (Pantherophis emoryi)
Great Plains Ratsnake (Pantherophis emoryi)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Pantherophis emoryi
  • Adult Size: 5 feet
  • Lifespan: 21 years

The Great Plains Ratsnake is typically a tan or lighter gray in color with brown, dark gray, or greenish-gray blotches down its back and a light tan stripe on each side of its head that meet between its eyes.

They don’t have very large teeth and are non-venomous, but do tend to be bitey. Most of the time they are not aggressive, though.

They live in a wide variety of areas such as brushes, hill prairies, fields, canyons, barnyards, woodlands, riparian areas, and will even make homes out of abandoned houses. They like any place that they can hide under logs, rocks, boards, and even existing abandoned animal burrows.

As their name suggests, rodents will be a huge part of their diet but they also eat lizards, frogs, and birds. They will sit and wait until they see prey before they strike, constrict, and swallow their prey.

14. Ringneck

Northern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii)
Northern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus
  • Other Names: Ring-necked Snake
  • Adult Size: 10 to 15 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years in the wild; 6 years in captivity

Ringneck Snakes have slender bodies and smooth scales, ranging from black, bluish-black, greenish-gray, to olive in color. Their undersides will usually be yellow, orange, or red with a ring around their neck of the same color.

You can find these snakes in wide varieties of habitats as long as there is a lot of places for them to hide and take cover. They like making dens under woody debris.

They mainly feed on terrestrial worms, mollusks, and amphibians.

15. Plains Black-headed Snake

Plain black headed snake (Tantilla nigriceps)
Plains Black-headed Snake (Tantilla nigriceps)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Tantilla nigriceps
  • Other Names: Plains Blackhead Snake
  • Adult Size: 7 to 15 inches
  • Lifespan: Unknown

Plains Black-headed Snake has a uniform tan to grayish-brown body with a pink-orange underside. Some may have lavender colorations on their neck and chin.

At the top of their head, they have a large black or dark blue that seemingly covers the entirety of their head, which is where they get their name.

You might find them in grassy, rocky prairies, or in hillsides with moist soil. People have even spotted them in their basements.

They mostly eat spiders and beetle larvae, but will also eat centipedes and sometimes scorpions.

16. Southwestern Blackhead Snake

Smith's Black-headed Snake (Tantilla hobartsmithi)
Smith’s Black-headed Snake (Tantilla hobartsmithi)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Tantilla hobartsmithi
  • Other Names: Smith’s Black-headed Snake
  • Adult Size: 8 inches
  • Lifespan: Unknown

This slender snake has a light brown or tan body with a black head, as their name suggests. Their undersides are typically almost lavender in color with a red line through the middle.

They can be found in desert scrub areas, semi-desert grasslands, plains, oak woodlands, and pine-oak woodlands.

They consume caterpillars, centipedes, and beetle larvae.

17. Kingsnake

Common kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula)
Common kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis getula
  • Other Names: Eastern Kingsnake, Common Kingsnake, Chain Kingsnake
  • Adult Size: 60 inches
  • Lifespan: 25 years in captivity; 5.5 years in the wild

Kingsnakes come in many different patterns, varying from black to dark browns, with pale yellow or white spots, rings, bars, bands, or stripes. They have smooth scales to show off their vibrant colorations and chain-link pattern.

They can inhabit various types of habitats but are mostly spotted in grasslands, forests, rocky fields, and deserts. They might also be found near swamps or riverbanks now and again.

Kingsnakes mainly feed on rodents, lizards, birds, and their eggs. In wetter climates, they might consume amphibians and turtle eggs as well.

18. Central Plains Milksnake

Eastern Milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum)
Eastern Milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis triangulum
  • Other Names: Milk Snake, Eastern Milksnake
  • Adult Size: About 4 feet
  • Lifespan: 22 years

Milk Snakes are a species of Kingsnake that are non-venomous, friendly, docile, and beautiful to look at.

Milksnakes are tan or brown with black-brown bands and blotches that loop around the length of their body. Their skin can sometimes be a pale yellow with almost a red striped pattern, similar to the Western Milk Snake and the venomous Coral snake or a Rattlesnake, depending on the Milk Snake.

They have cat-like pupils that can look intimidating but lack the rattle at the end of their tails.

They can be found in meadows, pastures, under any artificial cover, by the edges of watercourses, by mountain cliffs, and woodlands. These carnivorous snakes feed on lizards, reptile eggs, birds and their eggs, mice, and sometimes insects.

19. Great Basin Gopher Snake

Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola)
Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Pituophis catenifer deserticola
  • Other Names: Bullsnake, Bull Snake
  • Adult Size: up to 7 feet
  • Lifespan: up to 30 years in captivity; 12 years in the wild

Bullsnakes are a subspecies of the Gophersnake. They can make good pets once accustomed to handling and captivity, which is why you want to look for captive-bred species.

They are large constrictor snakes, though, meaning that they strangle their prey. This species will sometimes do this to more than one animal at a time. You also shouldn’t be too surprised if they try to bite.

Bullsnakes are often mistaken for rattlesnakes due to their similar behaviors. However, they are not as large, have round pupils, narrower heads, don’t have pits over their nostrils, and don’t have rattles on their tails.

These non-venomous snakes are hefty and large with a cream-colored or pale yellow body with brown, black, or copper blotching all throughout. Their heads and necks are almost the same in width as well.

They can be found in open country environments like old fields, native or bluff prairies, pastures, oak savannas, and steep hillsides. They roam sandy-soiled areas where rodents burrow and may also take shelter in agricultural fields, open forests, brush, and any sandy area.

These powerful constrictors live off gophers as well as other small mammals like mice and squirrels. They will also consume amphibians, birds, and their eggs.

20. Long-nosed Snake

Longnose Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei) in West Texas
Longnose Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei) in West Texas
  • Experience Level: Expert
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Rhinocheilus lecontei
  • Other Names: Long-nosed Snake
  • Adult Size: 30 to 40 inches
  • Lifespan: less than 20 years

Long-nosed Snakes are not commonly found in the pet trade because they are difficult to keep since they are notorious escape artists.

They get their name from their slightly upturned, long snout somewhat resembling a shark nose.

They look very similar to a Coral Snake or Milk Snakes with their black and red-orange stripe-like pattern except Long-nosed snakes will have somewhat faded-looking sides which are almost a checkered pattern of the same colors as their body. They also have a light yellow or cream-colored body, which looks like a background under other colors.

These nocturnal beings like arid environments such as deserts and dry prairies where they burrow during the day and crawl on cool roads at night.

These snakes feed primarily on amphibians and lizards but will sometimes be caught eating other smaller snakes and the occasional rodent.

21. Night Snake

Texas Night Snake (Hypsiglena torquata jani)
Texas Night Snake (Hypsiglena torquata jani)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Hypsiglena torquata
  • Other Names: Nightsnake
  • Adult Size: 26 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 years in captivity; Wild unknown

You can identify these snakes with their tan or light gray color and dark brown or gray blotches. They have smooth dorsal scales and their undersides are unmarked.

They have copper eyes with a vertically elliptical pupil.

They are known to be slightly venomous; just enough to subdue their tiny prey, but are mostly harmless to humans and take well to handling.

You can find them in semi-arid areas with rocky dirt or soil since that is their preference. They like to hide under rocks until it comes time for them to come out at night.

In this habitat, they eat mostly smaller snakes and soft insects without an exoskeleton. They will also eat amphibians or smaller lizards and snakes.

22. Western Hognose Snake

Western Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus)
Western Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Heterodon nasicus
  • Other Names: Plains Hognose Snake, Hognose snake
  • Adult Size: 15 to 25 inches
  • Lifespan: about 10 to 15 years

The Hognose snake is known to be one of the best pet snakes for enthusiasts since they are not fussy and are comfortable with human interaction.

They also stay relatively small and have a cute, lovable face with their tiny snout, as their name suggests.

These worm-like snakes have a small snout and a pug-like face. They are usually a light yellow or tan color with a brown spotted pattern throughout their bodies.

They are known to be pretty easy to care for in terrariums and come from dry environments with low vegetation, abundant in rocks or stones. They enjoy digging and prefer sandy areas with space to burrow.

Hog-nosed snakes like to eat frogs and toads, even poisonous ones. However, they will also feed on lizards, small mammals like birds, insects, and salamanders.

23. Striped Whipsnake

Striped white snake (Coluber Masticophis taeniatus taeniatus)
Striped white snake (Coluber Masticophis taeniatus taeniatus)
  • Experience Level: Expert
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber Masticophis taeniatus taeniatus
  • Other Names: DesertStriped Whipsnake
  • Adult Size: 24 to 67 inches
  • Lifespan: anywhere from 10 to 20 years

Desert Striped Whipsnakes are typically black, dark brown, or gray in color with a blue or olive tint to their skin. They have two pale yellow stripes along their backsides all throughout their length.

Their undersides are usually pale yellow or cream from the head fading into a coral red toward the tail.

They can be found in various habitats such as grasslands, canyons, sagebrush flats, shrublands, pine-oak forests, and juniper woodlands. However, they typically prefer rocky streams, mountains, and flatlands.

This species of snake eats smaller mammals, birds, their eggs, amphibians, other snakes including rattlesnakes, and insects.

24. Coachwhip

Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum)
Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum)
  • Experience Level: Expert
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber Masticophis flagellum
  • Other Names: Whipsnake
  • Adult Size: 5 to 8 feet
  • Lifespan: 16 to 20 years in captivity; Wild lifespan: 13 years

Coachwhips are thought to be some of the quickest snakes in America.

Coachwhips are fairly slender with distinctive black or dark brown head and ombre colorations with lighter browns and tans down their backs toward their tail.

They have large eyes, which give them great vision as they swiftly sweep the terrain for prey.

You can find them in any dry terrain such as prairies, farmlands, deserts, shrublands, juniper grasslands, creek valleys, and chaparral. You might also find them roaming around agricultural areas with vegetation.

They eat a diet of mainly rodents, frogs, lizards, birds, and their eggs, spiders, and even small venomous snakes. They are also known to eat rattlesnakes if they happen to cross paths with one.

Venomous Snake Species in Colorado

Here is a list of the most venomous snakes that roam the state:

25. Prairie Rattlesnake

Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) curled up
Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) curled up
  • Experience Level: Expert
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus viridis
  • Other Names: Western Rattlesnake, Great Plains Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 5 feet
  • Lifespan: 16 to 20 years in the wild; 24 years max in captivity

If you suffer a bite from this viper and don’t get it treated, it can be very dangerous, and even fatal.

This venomous pit viper is a tan, hefty rattlesnake with dark brown blotches or bands along their backsides, splitting into dark olive or brown rings at their tail.

They can be spotted in sagebrush, grasslands, and high rocky ledges. Prairie Rattlesnakes mostly consume various kinds of rodents like prairie dogs and rabbits.

26. Midget Faded Rattlesnake

Midget Faded Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus concolor)
Crotalus oreganus concolor
  • Experience Level: Expert
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus oreganus concolor
  • Other Names: Faded Rattlesnake, Yellow Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 2 feet
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years

The Midget Faded Rattlesnake is the smallest member of the western rattlesnake family known for its faded pattern.

They are typically a light tan, pale brown, or pale brown-gray with faded mustard yellow, green, olive, tan, or brown blotches all throughout their body.

They typically live in sagebrush deserts or rock outcrops where they can hunt prey.

While we know little about what they feed on in the wild, they seem to prefer cold-blooded prey such as lizards. We just assume they eat a similar diet to the Prairie Rattlesnake.

The Midget Faded Rattlesnake is the deadliest snake in the state. They like to be spotted near the Colorado National Monument due to its fitting habitat for the species.

27. Massasauga Rattlesnake

Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus)
Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus)
  • Experience Level: Expert
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus
  • Other Names: Western Massasauga, Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: about 2 feet
  • Lifespan: 14 years

The Massasauga is protected by The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act. This means that they cannot be taken from the wild and are not to be messed with.

A bite from one of these vipers will not be one you will forget and could also kill you since they are one of the most venomous snakes in the United States. Although, they are quite shy creatures which is why bites don’t happen too often and are considered a rare occurrence.

Massasaugas are tan or gray in color with bright brown blotches along their back and smaller blotchy patterns along their sides.

In the wilderness, they choose to live in open, rocky areas since these environments will allow them to bask freely with multiple options. They may also be found in deserts, forests, prairies, and marshes.

They like areas where they can take cover from bird predators and where prey is abundant. They will eat insects, lizards, smaller snakes, and amphibians but they mainly feed on smaller mammals.

When hunting, these vipers are the stalking type, sitting and waiting for their prey. They have special pits near each of their eyes that are heat-sensitive and will alert them when prey is near.

They will then inject them with a little bit of their toxic venom before swallowing them whole.


That wraps it up for this list of snakes in Colorado. We’ve gone through the snake all the snakes native to the state and even covered the laws.

If you are considering getting a pet snake and live in Colorado, at least now you have the full details on what you can and cannot do.

We hope you learned something and please leave us a comment below, giving us a shout-out if you’re a fellow snake lover from Colorado state.

Snakes in other states

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