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Snakes in Maine

There are only 10 species of snakes in Maine, none of which are considered venomous.

Animal laws in Maine prohibit commercial trading of any snakes that are native to the state, meaning that they cannot be taken from the wild.

While you can have as many pythons, boas, and rat snakes as you want without a permit, a permit is required to possess, import, exhibit, propagate, or rehabilitate many other species of snake.

You can find this list here: http://www.uappeal.org/maine.html

Any importers must comply with CITIES, Endangered and Threatened Species Regulations, and any Animal Welfare laws.

Taking any living thing out of the wild is prohibited.

Now that legality has been covered, you might be wondering what snakes you can even find in the state of Maine. Here are all the species that roam Maine:

Snakes in Maine

Here are some common snakes that roam the state:

1. Eastern Ribbon Snake         

Eastern Ribbon Snake on walkway (Thamnophis sauritus)
Eastern Ribbon Snake on walkway (Thamnophis sauritus)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sauritus
  • 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.

These snakes 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.

They 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.

2. Western Ribbonsnake

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: around 3 feet
  • Lifespan: 10+ years in captivity; wild lifespan unknown

Another Ribbonsnake, which is the most common species of Garter Snakes, is the Western Ribbonsnake. As we mentioned with the Eastern, they have various morphs to pick from and are non-poisonous, making them an attractive pet choice.

Similar to the Eastern, Western Ribbonsnakes can be brown, almost black, or olive-colored with their signature pale yellow or light green stripes along their bodies.

Ribbonsnakes are semi-aquatic and can be found 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 mainly feed on small fish, insects, and tadpoles.

3. DeKay’s Brown Snake

Brown Snake (storeria dekayi)
Brown Snake (storeria dekayi)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Storeria dekayi
  • Other Names: Brown Snake
  • Adult Size: approximately 13 inches
  • Lifespan: 7 years in captivity; unknown in the wild

Midland Brown Snakes are not shy and humans commonly encounter them. They can make great pets for beginners due to their size and gentle nature. They are also quite easy to feed.

These non-venomous snakes are usually brown in color, as their name suggests, but can also come in a yellowish, red, or grayish-brown tone.

They will typically have two rows of either darker or lighter spots which might also be linked, making it look like a collar or middorsal streak down the side of their head. Underneath each of their eyes may also be a small, dark spot.

These markings may also not appear on some individuals.

Their undersides will either be white or tan.

They like to reside in various woodlands, more commonly in wet areas like swamp edges or wetland borders. They like to roam the litters of abandoned fields, lowland hardwoods, prairies, and oak savannas.

They are also often spotted in residential areas or urbanized territories.

In their habitats, they will consume small invertebrates like earthworms, slugs, and snails with their specialized jaws and teeth. They may also eat beetles and salamanders if they come across one.

4. Eastern Garter Snake

Eastern Garter Snake curled up on a rock (Thamnophis sirtalis)
Eastern Garter Snake curled up on a rock (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
  • Other Names: Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 26 inches long
  • Lifespan: 10 years

Eastern Garter Snakes are relatively small and remain active during the day. They like to soak often, especially around their shedding period so they should always have a soaking bowl readily available in their tank.

Garter snakes are docile and will not grow to be too large, making them a very beginner-friendly reptile. If threatened, they will release a musk in order to ward off predators.

These snakes can range from dark olive-green to brown or black with a distinctive yellow or off-white stripe running throughout the length of their body.

Subspecies of Garter Snakes all look very similar so the only way to identify an Eastern is by checking their stripes. Looking at their scale patterns and counting the number of scales on their upper lip can also help you identify the type of Garter Snake as well.

In the wild, 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.

5. Common Garter Snake

Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) on rocks
Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) on rocks
  • 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. Eastern 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
  • 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.

7. 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.

8. Northern Ringneck Snake

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

While you can keep these small snakes as pets, they do not usually do too well in captivity due to their timid nature and difficulties when breeding. All subspecies of the Ringneck snakes are threatened in their native habitats and should not be captured.

Ringneck Snakes are not the easiest to take care of since they have specific needs in order to stay alive. They also don’t make the best pets since they want to remain hidden at all times.

A lot of Ringnecks will be captured and taken from their habitats into the hands of overzealous first-time keepers. Usually, they will refuse to eat after a week or two in captivity.

However, they respond to handling quite well since they are not aggressive. Even though they are slightly venomous, their poison is comparable to that of a bee’s sting.

Ringnecks’ well-known defense mechanism is the curling up of their tail, which shows off their bright red underside and happens when they are feeling threatened. While they are non-aggressive, they may try to nip at you, but even that will be hard to do since they have rear-facing fangs.

They pose very little threat to humans who want to handle them but do not enjoy being seen and like to remain hidden.

Northern Ringneck Snakes have a flat, black head with smooth scales all throughout their thin body, which is usually dark gray or a dull blue-gray in color. Their undersides may be a bright or pale yellow sometimes with small speckles or spots.

They get their name from the yellow or orange band that circles their neck. There are many subspecies that might vary in color.

They are sometimes mistaken to be Prairie Ringnecks since they are similar in size as well as color. You can differentiate them by looking at their undersides since a Northern Ringsnake will have a solid pale yellow belly without any markings.

These tiny snakes don’t like to be seen or out in the open so they like to inhabit areas like moist forests or dry deciduous forests. In these habitats, you can find them feasting on earthworms, smaller snakes, salamanders, small amphibians, and beetles.

9. Northern Red-bellied Snake

Northern Red bellied snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
Northern Red bellied snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Storeria occipitomaculata
  • Other Names: Redbelly snake, Red-belly Snake, Copperbelly Snake
  • Adult Size: 8 to 16 inches
  • Lifespan: 4 years in captivity; Wild lifespan unknown but predicted to be longer than in captivity

While Red-bellied Snakes are rarely encountered in the state, they still exist in the wilderness. They are just very secretive.

These small snakes can be found in swarms basking in the sun on the warm days of September to October. You can also find them in woodlands, fields, under logs, in forests, bike trails, back roads, and sphagnum bogs.

In these areas, they feed on earthworms, beetle larvae, and slugs.

People can sometimes find them out in their pesticide-free garden or just out in the wild and might want to keep them as a pet. However, they really struggle to eat when in captivity and will sometimes just outright refuse when they are removed from the wild.

They do not do well in captivity and prefer to be free to roam the lands as they please. Although they aren’t hard to obtain in the wild, they might not be the best pet to keep if you are planning to have them for long since they do not do well away from their natural habitat.

Due to this, you might not run into them as often in the wild since they like to stick to their spaces. They are not as tolerant of populated areas.

It’s not hard to identify these snakes since they really do live up to their name with their flashy red or orange undersides. Their bodies might be a dark steel grey, black with a blue tint, or copper brown. Some may also have two dark stripes along their sides or a thick, light-colored band down the middle of their backs.

While they will usually first curl their tails or flee in defense before they try to bite, their little nibble probably won’t affect you anyway.

While they are small and beautiful, this does not mean they will make a good pet since they do not usually survive long in captivity.

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.

Conclusion

We hope that you learned something new about what species of snakes are available in Maine and a little more information about each of the few species that roam the state.

In Maine, there are no venomous snakes and very few species of common snakes. There are less than ten available species as well.

After reading about all the species available in your state, which one sounds the most interesting to you?

Let us know down in the comments below.

Snakes in other states

References

https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/othercritters/factsheets/snakes-meifw_pp17-20.pdf

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