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57 Snakes That Give Live Birth

There are about 57 different types of snakes that give live birth in the United States alone.

Worldwide, the number is unclear. But healthy estimates put the number of snakes that give live birth at 20 to 30% of the snake population.

If you’re familiar with animal classifications, you probably learned that mammals (e.g. mice, dogs, and humans) give live birth, while reptiles (e.g. lizards, skinks, and snakes), birds, and amphibians (e.g. frogs) lay eggs. That’s mostly true.

But with snakes, such distinctions aren’t so cut and dried. Snakes show a lot of variation in how they reproduce. Some lay eggs long before they are due to hatch, some wait until the eggs are close to hatching before laying them, while others give live birth.

What makes snakes that birth their young alive interesting is that it isn’t always easy to make generalizations about them. You can’t always decide whether a snake is oviparous (egg-laying) or viviparous (live-bearing) based on its taxonomy.

Many snake families contain both live-bearing and egg-laying members. Sometimes, you’ll even find such reproductive differences within the same genus.

But don’t worry. If you’re curious about which snakes give birth to their young alive, you’ll find the answers you need in this guide.

Let’s get started.

Snakes That Give Live Birth

1. Northern Rubber Boa

Northern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) in someones hands in the sun somewhere around Dixie, Washington, USA
Northern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) in someone’s hands in the sun somewhere around Dixie, Washington, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Charina bottae
  • Other Names: Rubber Boa
  • Adult Size: 20 to 25 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 26 years
  • Average Price Range: About $300

The northern rubber boa is a brown constrictor without any distinct markings on its body.

However, its sides and underbelly are slightly lighter than the back. You may find variants of this snake that are more olive-brown or greenish than regular brown.

Like most boas, this species has a stout cylindrical body with a rounded head. The tail of this snake has a similar shape to the head. When threatened, this snake coils into a circle, buries its head in the center, then lifts its tail as a false head to mislead attackers.

Northern rubber boas are non-venomous snakes that feed on small mammals and reptiles which they sometimes immobilize by constricting. Juveniles tend to consume eggs and smaller reptiles, while adults feed on larger prey.

You’ll notice the tail of this snake is usually scarred. This scarring is because the snake often uses its tail to pretend to strike animals it has no interest in actually eating. For example, it usually strikes adult mice with its tail, leaving them unhurt while it preys on their children.

You’ll find northern rubber boas from northern California and northwestern states in the US to parts of Canada.

2. Southern Rubber Boa

Southern Rubber Boa (Charina umbratica) on a rock in San Bernardino, California, USA
Southern Rubber Boa (Charina umbratica) on a rock in San Bernardino, California, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Charina umbratica
  • Other Names: Rubber Boa
  • Adult Size: 20 to 25 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 26 years
  • Average Price Range: About $300

The southern rubber boa is the northern rubber boa’s closest relative.

Like its relative, this snake is common in California, although you’re more likely to find it in southern parts. Until recently, this species was only recognized as a subspecies of the northern rubber boa.

This stout-bodied constrictor has a long body with a rounded head and blunt tail. Its color may be light brown, dark brown, olive green, yellow, cream, or tan. Without expert guidance, it can be difficult to distinguish this species from its nearest relative.

Rubber boas have small, smooth scales that give their bodies a rubbery shine. It’s from this appearance that the snakes get their names.

The southern rubber boa is not a venomous snake. When hunting, this snake kills its victims by constricting them before eating. It feeds on various small mammals and reptiles, from mice to lizards, salamanders, and even birds.

This snake is primarily nocturnal, although you may also encounter it during the day. It often hides under logs and other debris in forests, but it’s also skilled at climbing trees and swimming.

3. Rosy Boa

Desert Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) on a large rock in Baja California, Mexico, North America
Desert Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) on a large rock in Baja California, Mexico, North America. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Lichanura trivirgata
  • Other Names: Desert Rosy Boa
  • Adult Size: 32 to 36 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 to 30 years
  • Average Price Range: 

The rosy boa is a favorite among people who keep snakes in captivity. This beautiful snake is relatively non-aggressive, and its size makes it easier to handle than larger constrictors.

Like all boas, this snake is not venomous. It kills prey by constricting them with its strong body muscles before consuming them. Its victims often include small mammals, birds, and reptiles like lizards and other snakes.

You’ll find rosy boas in semi-desert areas, where they often hide under and around rocks or rocky slopes. Even in such fairly arid habitats, these snakes show a preference for areas close to water sources.

The rosy boa has a stout body, but its head is noticeably narrower and longish. Its body is covered in small smooth scales and may be gray, brown, or orange. Though you’ll find variants with different colors, all usually have three longitudinal stripes running down the back and sides.

4. Kirtland’s Snake

Kirtland's Snake (Clonophis kirtlandii) on a leaf in Jefferson County, Indiana, USA
Kirtland’s Snake (Clonophis kirtlandii) on a leaf in Jefferson County, Indiana, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Clonophis kirtlandii
  • Other Names: Kirtland’s Snake
  • Adult Size: 13 to 25 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 to 5 years
  • Average Price Range: 

Kirtland’s snake is a semi-aquatic snake named after Jared Kirtland, a 19th-century naturalist. You’ll find this snake in various habitats, from marshes and creeks to moist woodlands and fields.

Kirtland’s snake is a mildly venomous snake with rear fangs. It’s virtually harmless to humans unless threatened, and its diet is made up of small organisms like earthworms, leeches, minnows, and crustaceans like crayfish.

This snake is relatively small. Although it has a long, slender tail and smallish head, the body is stout. Kirtland’s snake is covered in keeled scales that give its skin a rough or ridged texture when handled.

You’ll find Kirtland’s snakes in many mid-western states in the US, such as Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana. These snakes have gray or grayish-brown bodies with black patches. Their heads are black, while their undersides are orange with black spots lining both margins.

5. Saltmarsh Snake

Saltmarsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii) slithering through dry sand and rocks in Texas, USA
Saltmarsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii) slithering through dry sand and rocks in Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia clarkii
  • Other Names: Gulf Salt Marsh Snake, Mangrove Salt Marsh Snake, Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake
  • Adult Size: 15 to 30 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: About $125

The salt marsh snake’s scientific name comes from Lt. John Clark, the name of a 19th-century naturalist. You’ll find this species in coastal areas and salt marshes from Florida to northern Cuba.

Although this species isn’t a sea snake, it is more adapted to life in marine environments than many water snakes in North America. It lacks salt-excretory glands, so it drinks pools of rainwater to reduce its salinity levels.

Salt marsh snakes come in various forms. Some are gray with dark longitudinal bands. In other variants, these bands are broken into blotches or cross bands. You may also come across orange variants with no observable bands.

Like many members of their genus, salt marsh snakes have noticeable tails that taper toward the rear. Their bodies are rough because of their keeled scales and their heads are slightly slimmer than their bodies.

These serpents feed on small marine animals, from crustaceans like shrimps and crayfish to vertebrates like some small fish species. These snakes aren’t venomous, so they aren’t considered threatening to humans.

6. Mississippi Green Water Snake

Mississippi Green Watersnake (Nerodia cyclopion) peeping its head through aquatic leaves in Sugar Land, Texas, USA
Mississippi Green Watersnake (Nerodia cyclopion) peeping its head through aquatic leaves in Sugar Land, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia cyclopion
  • Other Names: Western Green Water Snake
  • Adult Size: 28 to 45 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 9 years
  • Average Price Range: About $30

The Mississippi green water snake is an olive-brown serpent with keeled scales and black blotches. It has a narrow head and a stout body that narrows into a slim tail at the rear. It has a yellow underside that turns gray towards the rear.

Like other water snakes, you’ll find this species in or around water sources. It’s common in non-turbulent waters, such as lakes, calm rivers, bayous, and wet or flooded woodlands. 

Mississippi green water snakes are non-venomous serpents that feed primarily on fish of various types. They also consume crustaceans like crayfish, and amphibians like frogs, although to a lesser extent.

Since these snakes are non-venomous, they aren’t considered serious threats. But you should be careful when handling them because they can and will inflict painful bites if you threaten them.

7. Plain-bellied Watersnake

Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster) in grass and leaves on forest floor in Georgia, USA
Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster) in grass and leaves on forest floor in Georgia, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia erythrogaster
  • Other Names: Plainbelly Water Snake, Orange-bellied Moccasin, Agassiz’s Water Snake, Red-bellied Black Snake, Copper-bellied Moccasin
  • Adult Size: 30 to 48 inches
  • Lifespan: 8 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range: About $40

The plainbelly water snake has two main variants. One variant, also called a yellowbelly water snake, has a yellow belly with a gray or grayish-green back. The second variant is called a copperbelly water snake because its belly is coppery and its back is black.

This species is covered in ridged scales, and its body is stout. It’s called a plain-bellied water snake because its belly has no patterns. The name doesn’t imply that the belly is plain-colored. 

You’ll find plainbelly water snakes in damp areas or near water sources, such as sloughs, swamps, wetlands, and around lakes and ponds. You may also encounter these serpents far from water sources and their usual habitats.

Like other water snakes, this species is not venomous, and it feeds on small fish and amphibians around its habitats.

8. Southern Water Snake

Southern Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata) slithering up a branch in Clarksville, Florida, USA
Southern Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata) slithering up a branch in Clarksville, Florida, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia fasciata
  • Other Names: Banded Water Snake, Florida Water Snake
  • Adult Size: 24 to 48 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 8 years
  • Average Price Range: $15 to $20

The southern water snake belongs to a genus of semi-aquatic snakes that give live birth. You’ll find this serpent in coastal plains in the southeast of the United States, where it lives in various habitats, from streams to rivers, ponds, lakes, and wetlands.

You may find this snake resting on logs or wrapped around tree branches near water sources. Like its relatives, this snake often hunts its victims in and around water. Small vertebrates, such as fish and amphibians, make up the bulk of its diet.

The southern water snake may be brown, reddish-brown, gray, tan, or black, but its color varies among its subspecies. It has dark transverse bands on its body, and these bands are wider on the back but narrow as they wrap around the sides.

One feature that helps identify this species is the presence of a dark stripe that travels from its eyes to the starting point of each jaw.

It’s possible to mistake this species for a copperhead because of the cross or transverse bands on its body. However, unlike copperheads, this species is not venomous, and its bands are not shaped like hourglasses.

9. Florida Green Watersnake 

Florida Green Watersnake (Nerodia floridana) on a concrete road at night at Everglades National Park, Florida, USA
Florida Green Watersnake (Nerodia floridana) on a concrete road at night at Everglades National Park, Florida, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia floridana
  • Other Names: Eastern Green Water Snake
  • Adult Size: 30 to 55 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 30 years
  • Average Price Range: About $20

The Florida green water snake was once classified as a subspecies of the Mississippi green water snake. This species is olive-green or brownish and may be difficult to distinguish from its closest relative, the Mississippi green water snake.

Unlike the Mississippi green water snake, the pale belly of this serpent is unmarked. Its body is covered in long, keeled scales that give it a rough texture. Like other water snakes, this species’ stout body narrows into a slim tail at the rear.

The Florida green water snake is considered one of the largest, if not the largest, water snakes in North America. You’ll find species in southeastern states, especially in Florida. But you’ll also find populations in parts of Georgia and South Carolina.

Florida green water snakes are non-venomous serpents assumed to feed on amphibians and fish, although not much is known about their diet. Although these serpents are non-venomous, they may inflict painful bites when handled.

You’re likely to encounter these serpents in still waters with plenty of vegetation, such as swamps, marshes, and wetlands. You may also find them in non-turbulent rivers, lakes, and ponds.

10. Brazos Watersnake

Brazos River Watersnake (Nerodia harteri) on sand in flash photography in Hood County, Texas, USA
Brazos River Watersnake (Nerodia harteri) on sand in flash photography in Hood County, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia harteri
  • Other Names: Brazos River Water Snake, Harter’s Water Snake
  • Adult Size: 24 to 36 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The Brazos water snake is endemic to the state of Texas. More specifically, this species is endemic to areas around the Brazos River from which it gets its name. You’ll usually find this snake near the banks of moving rivers, where it shows a preference for rocky terrains.

Like other water snakes, the Brazos water snake is a non-venomous serpent. It hunts small animals in shallow water near its habitats. Amphibians like frogs and salamanders, crustaceans like crayfish, and small fish make up the bulk of their prey.

Although this species is not venomous, you should handle it with care because it can deliver powerful bites when threatened. When threatened, it widens and flattens its head before striking.

This snake is usually olive-green or brownish with rows of dark patches on its back and flanks. Its underside may be anything between pink and brown, but its throat and chin are pale but not quite white.

The Brazos water snake is listed as a near-threatened species.

11. Concho River Watersnake

Concho River Watersnake (Nerodia paucimaculata) on a large rock near Millersview, Texas, USA
Concho River Watersnake (Nerodia paucimaculata) on a large rock near Millersview, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia paucimaculata
  • Other Names: Concho Water Snake
  • Adult Size: Up to 36 inches
  • Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
  • Average Price Range: 

The Concho River water snake is another Texas native that shares similar habitats with the Brazos water snake. Until 1992, it was considered a subspecies of its Brazos relative.

You’ll only find the Concho River water snake around the Concho-Colorado water systems in west-central Texas. Here, it inhabits rocky shores and feeds on amphibians, prey, and fish.

This serpent is non-venomous, but it’s ill-tempered and doesn’t take kindly to handling. When threatened, it doesn’t hesitate to bite. It typically inflates its head into a wide, triangular shape before striking its targets.

Like the Brazos water snake, the Concho River water snake is a threatened species because of its rarity and limited range.

12. Diamondback Watersnake 

Diamondback Watersnake (Nerodia rhombifer) on concrete taken with flash photography in Ponder, Texas, USA
Diamondback Watersnake (Nerodia rhombifer) on concrete taken with flash photography in Ponder, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia rhombifer
  • Other Names: Diamond-backed Water Snake, Northern Diamond-backed Water Snake
  • Adult Size: 30 to 48 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: About $50

You’ll find the diamond-backed water snake in slow or standing aquatic habitats, such as non-turbulent rivers, ponds, and lakes. This serpent is also common in bayous and swamps in central US states, from Texas to Iowa.

The diamond-backed water snake feeds primarily on fish and amphibians like frogs. Although this serpent is not venomous, people often mistake it for highly venomous cottonmouth vipers and rattlesnakes.

Like most water snakes that give live birth, the diamond-backed water snake bites when threatened. Though this bite doesn’t contain venom, it can cause bleeding and severe pain.

The serpent’s body is covered in long, keeled scales. Its head is broad, and its body is stout, only narrowing at the rear into a long, pointed tail. Its body is olive-brown and bears black transverse bands that sometimes cross into each other.

13. Northern Watersnake

Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) slithering through murky waters in Ottowa County, Ohio, USA
Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) slithering through murky waters in Ottowa County, Ohio, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia sipedon sipedon
  • Other Names: Common Water Snake
  • Adult Size: 24 to 55 inches
  • Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: About $30

The northern water snake is the most common of the water snakes that give live birth in the United States. This serpent may be olive-brown, dark brown, tan, or grayish, and it has dark blotches on its back that alternate with the dark blotches on its sides.

The blotches on this snake are squarish or rectangular, but those on the back are larger than those on the sides. Sometimes, these two sets of blotches merge to form bands. In older species, this pattern isn’t as visible as in juveniles or wet snakes.

You’ll find the northern water snake in various habitats, from rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds, to marshes and swamps. Though this snake enjoys basking on rocks and other structures in open spaces, it rarely wanders far from water sources.

Northern water snakes feed on both live and dead prey. Their diet often includes fish, amphibians, aquatic arthropods, birds, small mammals, and other snakes. These serpents aren’t venomous, and they swallow their prey whole without constricting them.

Although northern water snakes are not venomous, they can inflict nasty bites when threatened. You should handle them with care to reduce the risk of bites.

14. Brown Watersnake

Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota) swimming through still waters in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota) swimming through still waters in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: 
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia taxispilota
  • Other Names: Awesome Brown Water Snakes
  • Adult Size: 20 to 70 inches
  • Lifespan: About 6 years
  • Average Price Range: About $20

Brown water snakes are another species of water snakes that give live birth. As their name suggests, these serpents are brown, although their undersides are a lighter shade of brown. These serpents are stout-bodied and covered in strongly ridged scales.

You’ll find brown water snakes near flowing water sources in Florida and the coastal plains of Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, and South Carolina. These semi-aquatic serpents primarily feed on fish and small amphibians.

Like northern water snakes, these snakes have squarish blotches on their backs and sides. Sometimes, people mistake them for venomous water vipers like copperheads and cottonmouths, leading people to kill them.

But unlike copperheads and cottonmouths, these snakes don’t have hourglass-like bands on their bodies. They also aren’t venomous, although they can inflict bloody but ultimately harmless bites when threatened.

15. Queensnake 

Queensnake (Regina septemvittata) slithering through leaves in Alcoa, Tennessee, USA
Queensnake (Regina septemvittata) slithering through leaves in Alcoa, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Regina septemvittata
  • Other Names: Queensnake
  • Adult Size: 14 to 23 inches
  • Lifespan: About 19 years
  • Average Price Range: About $35

The queen snake is an olive-brown to gray snake with keeled scales and three longitudinal stripes on its back and sides. These longitudinal stripes are black, but they may be hard to see in darker individuals.

This serpent’s underside is yellowish or brown, and this coloration is prominent on its throat and the sides of its face. Its yellowish underside also has four brown stripes running down it.

You’ll find the queen snake in clean aquatic habitats with still waters. It is common in shallow, rocky brooks and wetlands, where it often takes shelter under the cover of overhanging trees.

Crayfish appear to be this serpent’s most preferred prey, although there are records of it feeding on fish, amphibians, and other aquatic arthropods. Like Nerodia water snakes, this species is non-venomous. It ingests its prey whole.

16. Graham’s Crayfish Snake 

Graham's Crayfish Snake (Regina grahamii) in someone's hand among orange flowers at Ibera Prish, Louisiana, USA
Graham’s Crayfish Snake (Regina grahamii) in someone’s hand among orange flowers at Ibera Prish, Louisiana, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Regina grahamii
  • Other Names: Graham’s Crawfish Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 24 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Graham’s crayfish snake is the queen snake’s closest relative. Like its relative, this species feeds primarily on crayfish and is common in areas with clean, fresh water. You’ll find it in brooks, slow-moving streams, and wetlands.

This serpent has brown skin with strongly-keeled scales and longitudinal tan stripes along its back. Its underside is cream or yellowish with dark brown spots that form zigzag patterns on its lower flanks.

Like the queen snake, Graham’s crayfish snake is not a venomous serpent. It is also less aggressive than Nerodia water snakes when handled, preferring to release a stinking musk mixed with feces when handled.

17. Striped Crayfish Snake

Striped Crayfish Snake (Liodytes alleni) on a lilypad on water in Florida, USA
Striped Crayfish Snake (Liodytes alleni) on a lilypad on water in Florida, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Liodytes alleni
  • Other Names: Stripe Crawfish Snake, Striped Swampsnake
  • Adult Size: 20 to 24 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The striped crayfish snake is a close relative to the queen snake and Graham’s crayfish snake. Until recently, this species was put in the same genus as both snakes.

Like queen snakes, striped crayfish snakes show a preference for still or slow-moving waters. However, you’re more likely to find striped crayfish snakes in water sources with muddy bottoms instead of rocky ones.

The striped crayfish snake feeds primarily on crayfish, hence the crayfish in its name. It shows a preference for hard-shelled crayfish, but it also feeds on other types of crayfish and shrimps. It also preys on small amphibians, although to a lesser extent.

This serpent is shiny brown with three dark brown or black stripes running down its back and sides. Its lower flanks bear yellowish stripes, while its underside may be yellow or pink with dark markings.

18. Glossy Crayfish Snake

Glossy Crayfish Snake (Liodytes rigida) wrapped around someone's hand near a little stream and road at an unknown location
Glossy Crayfish Snake (Liodytes rigida) wrapped around someone’s hand near a little stream and road at an unknown location. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Liodytes rigida
  • Other Names: Glossy Swamp Snake, Striped Water Snake, Glossy Water Snake, Glossy Swampsnake
  • Adult Size: About 16 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The glossy crayfish snake also once belonged to the same genus as the queen snake. This has glossy, keeled scales with olive-brown skin on the back and yellowish skin on the undersides and lower flanks. 

This serpent’s back typically has two black stripes, although it may be absent in some variants. Its lips are yellow, and its yellow underside has two longitudinal rows of black spots on the sides that unite anteriorly.

Glossy crayfish snakes, like their relatives, are non-venomous serpents that feed almost exclusively on crayfish, which they hunt in or around slow-moving streams, lakes, and swamps. These serpents are endemic to the US southeast.

19. Black Swampsnake 

Black Swampsnake (Liodytes pygaea) curled up on a leaf in DeLand, Florida, USA
Black Swampsnake (Liodytes pygaea) curled up on a leaf in DeLand, Florida, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Liodytes pygaea
  • Other Names: Swamp Snake, Carolina Swamp Snake
  • Adult Size: 22 to 55 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Black swamp snakes are another species of snakes that give live birth only recently put in the same genus as glossy crayfish snakes. These serpents live in well-vegetated swamps, water-logged woodlands, streams, and ponds.

As their name suggests, these snakes are mostly black. Their undersides are bright red or reddish-orange with short black lines graduating the margins of their bellies. The skin of these serpents also has a glossy appearance.

Like other snakes in its genus, this species is non-venomous. It feeds on amphibians like frogs and salamanders, small fish, and aquatic arthropods. It also consumes annelids like earthworms.

Although many non-venomous snakes bite when threatened, black swamp snakes rarely do. Instead, they release a stinking musk mixed with feces when threatened or captured to dissuade predators.

20. DeKay’s Brown Snake 

DeKay's Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi) slithering through wet grass in Maryland, USA
DeKay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi) slithering through wet grass in Maryland, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Storeria dekayi
  • Other Names: Brown Snake, Northern Brown Snake, Western Brown Snake
  • Adult Size: 9 to 20 inches
  • Lifespan: About 7 years
  • Average Price Range: About $30

You’ll find DeKay’s brown snake in many parts of North America, from Mexico to Canada. In the United States, this snake lives in damp, wooded habitats in the eastern and central parts of the country.

Wherever this snake is common, you’ll find it marshlands and woodlands, where it often makes its home around ponds. You may also find it hiding under logs, leaf litter, and debris, sometimes around residential areas.

This serpent may be brown or gray with keeled scales on its body and two rows of dark brown or black spots running down the back. The sides are also lined with tiny black spots, while the underside is white or light yellow. Some have white bands on the neck.

DeKay’s brown snake is a non-venomous serpent that feeds on various small prey, from earthworms and insects to amphibians like frogs or mollusks like slugs.

21. Red-bellied Snake

Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) in someone's hand in Oswego County, New York, USA
Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) in someone’s hand in Oswego County, New York, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Storeria occipitomaculata
  • Other Names: Redbelly Snake, Redbellied Snake
  • Adult Size: 8 to 16 inches
  • Lifespan: About 4 years
  • Average Price Range: About $50

The red-bellied snake is a close relative of DeKay’s brown snake.

This small serpent is brown or grayish with keeled scales. But unlike its close relative, this species’ underside is reddish, not pale brown or white.

You’ll find the red-bellied snake in various habitats, especially in damp forests, woodlands, and marshes. However, you may also find it in urban areas, where it often hides among domestic rubbish and other debris.

In the woods, this serpent favors areas close to water sources like ponds, streams, and brooks. Here, it feeds on small prey, such as worms, slugs, and frogs.

Red-bellied snakes are neither constrictors nor venomous serpents.

22. Santa Cruz Garter Snake

Santa Cruz Garter Snake (Thamnophis atratus) being held by someone over grassy waters in Santa Cruz County, California, USA
Santa Cruz Garter Snake (Thamnophis atratus) being held by someone over grassy waters in Santa Cruz County, California, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis atratus
  • Other Names: Aquatic Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 40 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

You’re likely to find Santa Cruz garter snakes in marshes or around ponds and streams in forests and woodlands, where they hunt down small amphibians and small fish. In captivity, these animals readily consume dead fish offered to them.

The appearance of Santa Cruz garter snakes can be variable, especially among the different subspecies. These serpents typically have dark bodies that may be olive brown, gray, or even black.

A yellowish stipe usually extends from the back of the snake’s head and runs down the back to the end of its narrow tail. Some variants have similar stripes on both sides, while some have poorly defined dorsal stripes.

This species, like most snakes that give live birth in its family, is not venomous.

23. Short-headed Garter Snake

Short-headed Garter Snake (Thamnophis brachystoma) on a rock by grass near Rockton, Pennsylvania, USA
Short-headed Garter Snake (Thamnophis brachystoma) on a rock by grass near Rockton, Pennsylvania, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis brachystoma
  • Other Names: Short-headed Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 26 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The shorthead garter snake is an olive-green serpent with a short head that isn’t clearly differentiated from the neck. Like many garter snakes that give live birth, this species has three yellowish stripes running down the back and sides.

Unlike the Santa Cruz garter snake, this species is more terrestrial than aquatic. You’ll find garter snakes in grassy fields and woodlands, where they hide under logs, rocks, and other debris. They come out to bask openly on cloudy days.

Shorthead garter snakes are not venomous. And though they don’t enjoy handling, they are reluctant to bite people. Instead, they release a stinky scent mixed with feces meant to drive away predators.

These snakes feed primarily on earthworms, although they occasionally feed on small amphibians.

24. Butler’s Garter Snake 

Butler's Garter Snake (Thamnophis butleri) on a sandy ground in Ontario, Canada
Butler’s Garter Snake (Thamnophis butleri) on a sandy ground in Ontario, Canada. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis butleri
  • Other Names: Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 15 to 20 inches
  • Lifespan: 6 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: 

Butler’s garter snake was named after Amos Butler, a naturalist from Indiana.

You’ll find this snake in Indiana, where it is considered endangered. It’s also present in other US states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

This species is common in marshes, grasslands, and other coastal areas. You may also find this serpent in urban habitats, especially around industrial areas. Like many garter snakes, this species is non-venomous and feeds on worms.

Sometimes, this snake also eats small amphibians and arthropods like leeches. It consumes its prey whole since it doesn’t produce venom and isn’t a constrictor.

Butler garter snakes are brown or black snakes with three longitudinal stripes running down their backs and sides. There are usually two rows of black spots between the dorsal and lateral stripes, but these spots are absent in shorthead garter snakes.

25. Western Aquatic Garter Snake

Western Aquatic Garter Snake (Thamnophis couchii) being held by someone in front of a river in Placer County, California, USA
Western Aquatic Garter Snake (Thamnophis couchii) being held by someone in front of a river in Placer County, California, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis couchii
  • Other Names: Sierra Garter Snake, Couch’s Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 38 inches
  • Lifespan: About 8 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The western aquatic garter snake is common around freshwater sources like ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. You’ll find this snake in wetlands or grasslands and forests close to such water sources.

As its name suggests, this species is highly aquatic. It often ventures into the water, where it hunts down various types of prey, including fish. Like other serpents in its genus, the western aquatic garter snake is not venomous.

This is usually olive, dark brown, dark gray, or black with three yellowish stripes running down its back and sides. The narrow dorsal stripe may be indistinct in some individuals, and the whitish mottlings between its scales may be prominent.

26. Black-necked Garter Snake 

Black-necked Garter Snake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis) curled up around someone's finger in San Saba County, Texas, USA
Black-necked Garter Snake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis) curled up around someone’s finger in San Saba County, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis cyrtopsis
  • Other Names: Blackneck Garter Snake 
  • Adult Size: 16 to 28 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The black-necked garter snake is an olive-gray to dark-brown serpent with a light underside. Its head may be gray or blueish-gray with a black nape. A yellowish stripe breaks this nape into two halves in the center and runs down the middle of the back.

This serpent also has yellowish stripes on its sides and may have an overall checkered pattern. That’s because light interstitial mottlings sometimes break the black coloration between the yellow stripes, creating a black and yellow checkerboard pattern.

In the United States, you’ll find black-necked garter snakes in west central and southwestern states like Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Utah, and parts of New Mexico. These semi-aquatic snakes favor habitats near ponds and streams with rocky bottoms.

These non-venomous reptiles feed on various prey, especially amphibians like frogs, and salamanders. They also consume small fish, earthworms, and some aquatic arthropods.

27. Western Terrestrial Garter Snake

Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans) being held by someone in a black shirt somewhere in Inverness, California, USA
Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans) being held by someone in a black shirt somewhere in Inverness, California, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis elegans
  • Other Names: Mountain Garter Snake, Wandering Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 16 to 36 inches
  • Lifespan: 6 to 12 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The western terrestrial garter snake is more adapted to life in terrestrial habitats compared to many of its more aquatic relatives. But although you may find this serpent in drier areas, it is also common in marshes, coastal bushes, and lakeside vegetation.

Western terrestrial garter snakes feed on fish, amphibians, and mollusks like slugs. Interestingly, the dietary preference of this species appears to vary among the different subspecies. Some primarily eat fish while others are partial to amphibians or mollusks.

The color of the western terrestrial garter snake depends on the subspecies, and some species have variants with different colors. Its body often has olive, brown, gray, or black patterns on the sides.

Like many garter snakes, this species also has yellowish or beige stripes on its back and sides. These stripes may not always be clearly visible, especially when there’s little contrast between the stripe and body colorations.

28. Mexican Garter Snake 

Mexican Garter Snake (Thamnophis eques) on a rock surface in San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Mexican Garter Snake (Thamnophis eques) on a rock surface in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis eques
  • Other Names: Northern Mexican Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: Up to 44 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The Mexican garter snake is an olive-green or brownish snake with dark blotches and three yellowish stripes on its body. The dorsal stripe may be more orange than yellow in some species, and the underside appears yellow, beige, or yellowish-green.

You’ll find this semi-aquatic reptile in some Mexico and some states in the US, such as Arizona and New Mexico. Here, it often lives along the shores of ponds, lakes, and streams, where it feeds on leeches, earthworms, and small amphibians.

Mexican garter snakes are non-venomous serpents that rarely bite people. When threatened, these snakes release a foul-smelling musk along with feces to drive away potential predators.

29. Giant Garter Snake 

Giant Garter Snake (Thamnophis gigas) in dry grass and rocks near Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, California, USA
Giant Garter Snake (Thamnophis gigas) in dry grass and rocks near Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, California, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis gigas
  • Other Names: Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 31 to 64 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

True to its name, the giant garter snake is the largest species of garter snakes that give live birth in North America. This snake was classified as a subspecies of the western aquatic garter snake before gaining full species status.

The giant garter snake is considered a vulnerable species because its population has declined considerably due to habitat destruction driven by urbanization. You’ll often find it in marshes, swamps, and standing waters like ponds and lakes.

Like many semi-aquatic garter snakes, this species feeds on fish and frogs, which it typically consumes whole. It is neither a constrictor nor a venomous snake, but it can bite though it’s often reluctant to bite people.

This species has two visually distinct morphs. The striped morph is black with three yellow stripes running down its back and sides, while the spotted is olive-green with two rows of black spots on the lower sides and a yellowish-green mid-dorsal stripe.

30. Checkered Garter Snake 

Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus) sitting on wet rocks in Batesville, Texas, USA
Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus) sitting on wet rocks in Batesville, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis marcianus
  • Other Names: Marcy’s Checkered Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 42 inches
  • Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The checkered garter snake gets its name from the pattern of its body. Its body has a black and gray or greenish-gray checkered pattern with yellow dorsal and side stripes, while its underside is usually yellowish.

You’ll find this snake in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona in the United States, but it’s also abundant in Mexico and a few central American countries. It’s common in wetlands and vegetation near rivers, ponds, springs, and lakes.

You may also find this reptile in drier places, such as desert-like habitats and grasslands, where it often hides under logs, rocks, and other debris. It may also inhabit residential areas.

Checkered garter snakes may be active at night or during the day, depending on where they live. They have a varied diet made up of animals ranging from earthworms and slugs to fish, lizards, and mice.

31. Northwestern Garter Snake 

Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides) in wood chips and grass in Seaside, Oregon, USA
Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides) in wood chips and grass in Seaside, Oregon, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis ordinoides
  • Other Names: Red Racer
  • Adult Size: 9 to 38 inches
  • Lifespan: 7 to 16 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The northwestern garter snake is a relatively small garter snake with a brown or black body. Like many garter snakes that give live birth, this species has three longitudinal stripes on its back and sides.

The stripes on this serpent may be yellow, white, orange, red, or blueish. In some variants, these stripes are absent or indistinct. The stripes are often broken by small spots.

In the United States, northwestern garter snakes are common in Washington, Oregon, and parts of California. These serpents live in wetlands, forests, and grasslands, where they are most active during the day.

Northwestern garter snakes are solo hunters that feed on various prey, from earthworms to slugs. Though they show a preference for slugs, these serpents also consume amphibians like frogs and salamanders.

32. Western Ribbon Snake

Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus) slithering over pebbles and rocks at Brazoria National Wildlife, Texas, USA
Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus) slithering over pebbles and rocks at Brazoria National Wildlife, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis proximus
  • Other Names: Ribbon Snake
  • Adult Size: 20 to 30 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The western ribbon snake is a slender non-venomous serpent with an olive-brown or black body bearing several rows of black spots and three longitudinal stripes on its back and sides.

In most western ribbon snake variants, the longitudinal stripes on the back and sides are all yellow or whitish. However, unlike other subspecies, the red-striped ribbon snake’s dorsal stripe is reddish.

Western ribbon snakes feed primarily on amphibians like frogs, although they also occasionally eat fish and other small reptiles. These serpents have developed an interesting hunting technique.

When searching for amphibians, the western ribbon snake makes three quick strikes in different directions with its mouth closed to scare amphibians into revealing their location. It then chases and eats its targets.

33. Plains Garter Snake 

Plains Garter Snake (Thamnophis radix) slithering through dry forest floor leaves in Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Garter Snake (Thamnophis radix) slithering through dry forest floor leaves in Saskatchewan, Canada. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis radix
  • Other Names: Eastern Plains Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 16 to 28 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 8 years
  • Average Price Range: 

The plains garter snake gets its name from the Great Plains, where this species is most abundant. You’ll find this reptile in northwest Indiana and New Mexico. It’s also present in Ohio, where it’s classified as an endangered species.

Plains garter snakes inhabit damp prairies in the Great Plains, especially around wetlands like marshes and peat bogs. They feed on earthworms, arthropods, and small amphibians like frogs.

These fascinating reptiles are easy to mistake for common garter snakes or eastern ribbon snakes. However, plains garter snakes tend to have more vibrant yellow or orange stripes on their backs, while the stripes of common garter snakes are less vibrant and never orange.

Like most garter snakes that give live birth, this species has three longitudinal stripes on its body. The side stripes are lighter than the dorsal ones and are always positioned on scale rows three and four.

34. Narrowhead Garter Snake 

Narrowhead Garter Snake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus) wrapped up on red rocks and sand in Coconino County, Arizona, USA
Narrowhead Garter Snake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus) wrapped up on red rocks and sand in Coconino County, Arizona, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis rufipunctatus
  • Other Names: Narrowhead Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 32 to 44 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The narrow-headed garter snake is a peculiar garter snake with a longish, slender head. It’s peculiar because it lacks the yellow dorsal and lateral stripes characteristic of garter snakes, and its body is usually brown or gray with rows of dark spots on its body.

At first glance, you might mistake this species for a water snake, only that it doesn’t share the same geographical ranges with water snakes. Like water snakes, this species is semi-aquatic and often inhabits lakes or fast streams with rocky floors and vegetation.

Narrow-headed garter snakes are active during the day, and fish constitute the bulk of their diet. However, these serpents also augment their diet with small amphibians like frogs and salamanders.

Like most snakes that give live birth in their family, narrow-headed garter snakes are non-venomous. They can bite, but they prefer releasing a foul-smelling scent and feces as a last resort to escape predators when captured.

35. Eastern Ribbon Snake 

Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus) slithering through sticks and straw in New Jersey, USA
Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus) slithering through sticks and straw in New Jersey, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sauritus sauritus
  • Other Names: Northern Ribbon Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 34 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 11 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The eastern ribbon snake is the counterpart of the western ribbon snake. It’s found in the eastern part of the United States, where it often lives at the edges of lakes, streams, and salt marshes.

It’s easy to mistake this species for the eastern or common garter snake. However, this species lacks patterned lips scales. Like garter snakes, it has three yellowish stripes, but the side stripes are on scales three and four, not two and three like garter snakes.

In addition to these yellowish stripes, the eastern ribbon snake has a longitudinal brown stripe running between its yellowish stripes and belly on either side of its body. Like many snakes in its genus, this serpent’s belly is yellowish.

Eastern ribbon snakes have slender bodies and are non-venomous predators of fish and amphibians like frogs and salamanders. They swallow their victims whole and hunt in the mornings or evenings.

36. Common Garter Snake 

Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) on someone's hand in front of grass in Montour, Pennsylvania, USA
Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) on someone’s hand in front of grass in Montour, Pennsylvania, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis
  • Other Names: Eastern Garter Snake
  • Adult Size: 18 to 51 inches
  • Lifespan: 4 to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: About $25

The common garter snake is one of the most common garter snakes in North America. In the United States, this serpent is widespread in many states in the east and west of the country, although it’s less common in drier southern states.

Common garter snakes live in various habitats, from wetlands like marshes and swamps to more terrestrial forests and grasslands. While they can survive extreme climatic conditions, these snakes show a preference for areas near ponds and streams.

You may also encounter these serpents around human habitation in urban and suburban areas. Here, they often take shelter under boards, rocks, logs, and other types of debris.

Like other garter snakes, this species has three stripes on its back and sides. These stripes may be yellow, white, yellowish-green, or brownish. It has ridged scales and a light underside that matches body stripes.

Common garter snakes feed on frogs and other amphibians, fish, earthworms, and small mammals like mice.

37. Lined Snake 

Lined Snake (Tropidoclonion lineatum) curled up in someone's hand in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA
Lined Snake (Tropidoclonion lineatum) curled up in someone’s hand in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Tropidoclonion lineatum
  • Other Names: Lined Snake
  • Adult Size: 9 to 15 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Lined snakes are slender brown or olive-brown reptiles with the kind of three stripes common among garter snakes. However, you can tell them apart from most garter snakes because of their more brownish ground color.

The stripes on these serpents’ sides range from orange to yellow, while the dorsal stripe is usually pale or whitish. Their undersides are pale or whitish and bear two rows of black markings shaped like half-moons.

You’re most likely to encounter lined snakes in the prairies and woodlands of states like Minnesota, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Texas. They are common around vegetation near waterbodies, but you may also find them in gardens and vacant lots.

Lined snakes primarily feed on earthworms, which they often pick from wet soil surfaces. In addition, these serpents sometimes feed on the larvae of small insects and other soft-bodied arthropods.

Like many snakes that give live birth in their family, lined snakes are not venomous. These serpents are also unlikely to bite you when you carry them.

38. Smooth Earthsnake 

Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae) on someone's hand in Jackson County, Kansas, USA
Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae) on someone’s hand in Jackson County, Kansas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Virginia valeriae
  • Other Names: Eastern Earth Snake, Mountain Earth Snake
  • Adult Size: 7 to 15 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The smooth earth snake is common in the southeastern parts of the United States, where it lives in woodlands and hayfields. You may also find this serpent around human habitation, where it hides under domestic trash and other debris.

Unlike many colubrid snakes that give live birth, the scales of the smooth earth snake are smooth to the touch and without hard ridges. Its body may be brown like the earth, dirty orange, or olive brown. Its underside is lighter than the rest of the body.

Smooth earth snakes are non-venomous reptiles that feed almost exclusively on earthworms and other small invertebrates like soft-bodied insects and shell-less mollusks.

These snakes don’t pose any real harm to humans.

39. Rough Earthsnake

Rough Earthsnake (Haldea striatula) on the palm of someone's hand in Denton, Texas, USA
Rough Earthsnake (Haldea striatula) on the palm of someone’s hand in Denton, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Haldea striatula
  • Other Names: Little Striped Snake, Small Brown Viper, Brown Ground Snake, Brown Snake, Little Brown Snake, Small-Eyed Brown Snake, Ground Snake, Southern Ground Snake, Striated Viper
  • Adult Size: 7 to 10 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 7 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The rough earth sea snake is a solid dark brown or reddish-brown snake covered in keeled scales that give its skin a rough texture. The snake gets its name from this rough texture.

Although the back of this species is typically uniformly brown or reddish-brown, some adults and juveniles have a pale band across the back of their heads. These heads are smaller than the body and are a little pointy.

You’ll find rough earth snakes in the eastern and southeastern states of the US, where they live in marshes, swamps, woodlands, and damp forests. These snakes hide under debris and logs, from where they hunt small prey.

Although rough earth snakes could feed on various types of prey, these serpents feed almost exclusively on earthworms. They are excellent burrowers, and they use this skill to track the earthworms they feed on.

Rough earth snakes have fangs at the rear of their mouths. And although they produce some venom, their venom is mild compared to other snakes in the United States.

40. Pelagic Sea Snake

Pelagic Sea Snake (Hydrophis platurus) on rocky beach sand in Jalisco, Mexico, North America
Pelagic Sea Snake (Hydrophis platurus) on rocky beach sand in Jalisco, Mexico, North America. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Elapidae
  • Scientific Name: Hydrophis platurus
  • Other Names: Black and Yellow Sea Snake, Yellow-bellied Sea Snake 
  • Adult Size: 31 to 36 inches
  • Lifespan: 2 to 4 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The pelagic sea snake is the most widely distributed marine serpent in the world, with a distribution spanning the Indian and Pacific oceans. In the United States, you’ll find this sea snake on the coasts of far-west states like California.

Unlike some water snake species that tolerate salty water conditions, pelagic sea snakes have salt-excretory glands that help them prevent salt from building up in their systems.

The pelagic sea snake is a stunning black and yellow serpent with non-overlapping scales that prevent it from being mobile on land. Most of its body is yellow, but the back and the top half of the head are usually black, while the tail is a mix of both colors.

This serpent primarily feeds on small fish it encounters in the ocean. Unlike water snakes that give live birth, this elapid is highly venomous. Its venom can result in death, even in humans, which is why many snake predators avoid it.

41. Copperhead 

Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) rolled up in leaves on a forest floor in Maryland, USA
Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) rolled up in leaves on a forest floor in Maryland, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Agkistrodon contortrix
  • Other Names: Southern Copperhead, Highland Moccasin
  • Adult Size: 24 to 36 inches
  • Lifespan: 18 to 25 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The copperhead is a pit viper that gets its name from the copper color of its head. The head of this species is clearly wider than the neck, and the back bears several brown or reddish-brown hourglass-like patches that may or may not have dark margins.

You’ll find this viper in rocky, coniferous woodlands, where it often hunts prey close to water sources. Its victims include small mammals like mice, birds, and other reptiles, including snakes.

Copperheads are more common in the eastern parts of the United States and are known to be venomous. That’s why people often kill these snakes when they encounter them, sometimes killing other species misidentified as copperheads in error.

Although these vipers bite humans when threatened, their bites often don’t result in death. But you might experience swelling and severe pain in the bite area, fatigue, headache, nausea, and dizziness.

42. Cottonmouth

Northern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) in dry leaves and sticks in Union County, Illinois, USA
Northern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) in dry leaves and sticks in Union County, Illinois, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Agkistrodon piscivorus
  • Other Names: Cottonmouth Viper, Water Moccasin
  • Adult Size: 30 to 42 inches
  • Lifespan: Less than 10 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Cottonmouths belong to the same genus of venomous snakes that give live birth as copperheads. These pit vipers get their name from the insides of their mouths, which are typically cotton-white and visible when the snakes open their mouths to bite.

These serpents are aquatic, often sharing similar habitats to water snakes. Although water snakes are harmless, people sometimes kill them in panic, thinking they are cottonmouth vipers.

You’ll find most cottonmouths in slow-moving rivers and wetlands, such as marshes and swamps. You may also encounter this pit viper in woodlands, although it usually stays close to water sources.

This serpent is active at night and majorly feeds on various types of amphibians and fish. It also eats some birds and small mammals, sometimes consuming their eggs and corpses.

Cottonmouths are highly venomous snakes with bites powerful enough to kill humans. Even in non-fatal cases, the venom sometimes causes severe muscle and tissue damage.

43. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) rattling its tail on dry pine leaves in Wakulla County, Florida, USA
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) rattling its tail on dry pine leaves in Wakulla County, Florida, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus adamanteus
  • Other Names: Eastern Diamondback
  • Adult Size: 60 to 98 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 19 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is a light brown or grayish viper with yellow-lined black stripes behind its eyes. Its back bears several diamond-shaped patterns with yellow or whitish outlines, and its lower sides bear small dark spots.

This serpent is the largest rattlesnake in the United States and beyond. It’s native to the southeastern parts of the country, where it lives in sandy coastal areas. But you’ll also find it in forests and grassy swamps.

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is a skilled predator that preys on various types of mammals and birds. This species is highly venomous, not just to its prey, but to humans. Its bites can cause death within a short time, which is why people often kill it.

Rattlesnakes are called rattlesnakes because the end of their tails contain a series of hollow segments that make a rattling noise every time the snakes shake or rattle them. This rattling usually happens when the snakes are threatened.

44. Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake 

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) on a rocky surface in Texas, USA
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) on a rocky surface in Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus atrox
  • Other Names: Coon-tail Rattler, Coon-tail Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 48 to 72 inches
  • Lifespan: 22 to 26 years
  • Average Price Range: 

The western diamondback rattlesnake is similar to its eastern sibling, but it’s typically lighter. This gray, brown, or yellow serpent has several diamond-shaped patterns with whitish outlines on its back.

Unlike the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the portion of this serpent’s tail just before the rattled segments is ringed with black and white bands. These bands resemble the tails of raccoons, hence its nickname: “coon-tail rattler.”

As its name suggests, the western diamondback rattlesnake is more common in western states in the US, where it lives in grasslands, rocky canyons, floodplains, and semi-desert areas.

This pit viper, like its eastern sibling, is highly venomous. It feeds on various small mammals, but its bite is also lethal to humans and important livestock like cattle. This is one reason people actively hunt it down in places it is common.

45. Sidewinder Rattlesnake

Sidewinder Rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes) on rocks and sand at Estrella Mountain Regional Park, Arizona, USA
Sidewinder Rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes) on rocks and sand at Estrella Mountain Regional Park, Arizona, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus cerastes
  • Other Names: Sidewinder
  • Adult Size: 20 to 32 inches
  • Lifespan: 13 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: 

The sidewinder rattlesnake is a sand-brown snake with dark and light brown blotches on its back and horn-like structures above its two eyes. These structures presumably help stop sand from entering its eyes when it conceals most of its body in the sand.

This rattlesnake is well-adapted to sandy, desert-like regions, where it often slithers under the sand when tracking down prey. It feeds on various small animals, from kangaroo rats to lizards and birds, sometimes consuming other snakes.

Sidewinder rattlesnakes are more common in the deserts of the US Southeast. These highly venomous predators can inflict bites serious enough to cause death in human victims.

46. Timber Rattlesnake 

Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) curled up in a ball on the forest floors of Texas, USA
Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) curled up in a ball on the forest floors of Texas, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus horridus
  • Other Names: Banded Rattlesnake, Canebrake Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 24 to 32 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 to 37 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The timber rattlesnake typically has a brown line running down the center of its back. In addition, the back of this pit viper often has several dark brown cross bands saddling it, while the tail turns black or dark brown just before the rattle.

Like many rattlesnakes, this species is venomous, and it feeds on various birds and small mammals. The venom this species produces is highly potent and can result in human fatalities, which is why it’s been exterminated from some areas in North America.

You’ll find timber rattlesnakes in the eastern part of the United States, where they inhabit rocky hillside forests and timberlands.

47. Mojave Rattlesnake 

Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus) rolled up in the sunny grass in Tucson, Arizona, USA
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus) rolled up in the sunny grass in Tucson, Arizona, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus scutulatus
  • Other Names: Mohave Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 39 to 55 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 14 years
  • Average Price Range: 

The Mojave rattlesnake is a highly venomous pit viper found in southern and southwestern US states and many parts of Mexico. The venom this serpent produces can cause human fatalities, but the venom composition changes between variants.

One venom type is a neurotoxin that causes respiratory paralysis in the snake’s victims, leading to death. The other venom type is less deadly. It causes tissue death and excess blood loss, but it isn’t neurotoxic.

Like most rattlesnakes in North America, the Mojave rattlesnake mainly feeds on small rodents and birds. Though it reserves most of its venom for prey, it doesn’t hesitate to bite humans who disturb it.

The appearance of this serpent varies with the subspecies, but it may be greenish, grayish, or brownish. Its back is saddled with dark brown markings, while its tail is banded with wide white stripes and relatively thin black stripes.

48. Black-tailed Rattlesnake

Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus) rattling it's tail on a rock in dry pine leaves in Cochise County, Arizona, USA
Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus) rattling it’s tail on a rock in dry pine leaves in Cochise County, Arizona, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus molossus
  • Other Names: Blacktail Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 39 to 51 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: 

You’ll find most black-tailed rattlesnakes in southern states in the US and most of Mexico. These pit vipers live in deciduous pin-oak forests, woodlands, rocky slopes, and highland deserts.

Black-tailed rattlesnakes may be gray, brown, or yellowish. These serpents typically have dark brown and pale yellow or brown blotches on their scales that form bands around their bodies. Their tails are coal black or dark gray.

Black-tailed rattlesnakes feed on small mammals like mice, rabbits, and other rodents. However, these serpents also hunt down birds once in a while. They have highly potent venoms that help them kill prey but can be fatal to humans if left untreated.

49. Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake 

Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi) nestled up in dry leaves in Arizona, USA
Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi) nestled up in dry leaves in Arizona, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus willardi
  • Other Names: Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake, Arizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake, Willard’s Rattlesnake, Willard’s Rattler
  • Adult Size: 18 to 27 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 21 years
  • Average Price Range: 

The ridgenose rattlesnake is native to Mexico, but it often enters the United States through the southern borders of Arizona and New Mexico. In the United States, this serpent is a well-protected species.

Ridgenose rattlesnakes inhabit hardwood forests, especially those near rocky ravines, where they hunt down small rodents to eat. Sometimes, these serpents also consume lizards and birds.

Like other rattlesnakes that give live birth, this species is venomous, and it doesn’t hesitate to bite when disturbed. Fortunately, this species’ venom isn’t as deadly as those of other rattlesnakes in North America.

There are multiple variants of this serpent, and they don’t all look the same. While some are light to reddish-brown with facial stripes, other subspecies lack facial stripes and are more grayish than brown.

50. Massasauga Rattlesnake

Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) rolled up in a ball in dry grass in Oran, Iowa, USA
Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) rolled up in a ball in dry grass in Oran, Iowa, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Sistrurus catenatus
  • Other Names: Swamp Rattlesnake, Massasauga
  • Adult Size: 20 to 28 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The Massasauga rattler is an aquatic rattlesnake found in several parts of North America, from Canada to Mexico. This species and the cottonmouth viper are the only aquatic pit vipers that give live birth in North America.

The Massasauga is gray, olive-brown, or light brown with broad dark brown blotches on its back. There are smaller dark brown blotches on its sides that sometimes merge with dorsal blotches. In addition, each eye bears a white-edged dark postocular stripe.

You’ll find the Massasauga rattler in swamps, bogs, and damp prairies or close to streams and brooks. It feeds on various small mammals as adults, while juveniles are more likely to hunt down small reptiles and amphibians like lizards and frogs.

This serpent is venomous. Though its bites can cause serious symptoms, it rarely results in human mortality.

51. Pygmy Rattlesnake 

Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) on light-colored rocks in Indian River County, Florida, USA
Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) on light-colored rocks in Indian River County, Florida, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Sistrurus miliarius
  • Other Names: Ground Rattlesnake, Ground Rattler
  • Adult Size: 14 to 22 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The pigmy rattlesnake is the smallest rattlesnake species in the United States. It’s also the closest relative to the Massasauga rattlesnake, with whom it shares many physical traits.

This serpent is variable in color and may be gray, brown, reddish-brown, or tan, depending on the subspecies. It has broad dorsal and small lateral blotches that also vary in color from dark brown to gray or black.

Pigmy rattlesnakes may live in coastal plains, prairies, marshes, swamps, sandhills, or pine and hardwood forests. Habitat preference, like appearance, can vary widely among subspecies.

Pigmy rattlesnakes often hide under leaf litter, and their heads can be difficult to make out because of their body coloration. They prey on small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Some augment their diets with insects and other small arthropods.

Like Massasauga rattlers, pigmy rattlesnakes are venomous pit vipers. But unlike their Massasauga siblings, the bites of pigmy rattlesnakes are more likely to result in human fatalities.

52. Twin-spotted Rattlesnake 

Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei) rolled up in a ball on sticks on the forest floor in Arizona, USA
Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei) rolled up in a ball on sticks on the forest floor in Arizona, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: 
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus pricei
  • Other Names: Price’s Twin-spotted Rattlesnake, Arizona Twin-spotted Rattlesnake, Western Twin-spotted Rattlesnake, Spotted Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 20 to 24 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 16 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The twin-spotted rattlesnake is a gray-to-brown reptile with keeled dorsal scales bearing two columns of brownish spots on its back, which is where it gets its name. Its wide head is distinct from the neck and long relative to other rattlesnakes.

Twin-spotted rattlesnakes are venomous hunters that feed on various types of small mammals, especially rodents like rats and rabbits. They also eat birds and other reptiles like lizards.

You’ll find twin-spotted rattlesnakes in southeastern Arizona in the US, but they’re more widespread in the northern parts of Mexico. You’ll typically find these serpents at high altitudes on mountains and cliffs or in woodlands.

53. Red Diamond Rattlesnake 

Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) on forest floor litter in sunlight in San Bernardino County, California, USA
Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) on forest floor litter in sunlight in San Bernardino County, California, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus ruber
  • Other Names: Red Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: 39 to 55 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 to 19 years
  • Average Price Range: 

The red diamond rattlesnake is a desert- or mountain-dwelling pit viper found in southwestern California in the United States and parts of Mexico. Like many rattlesnakes, this species is a venomous predator of small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Red diamond rattlesnakes consume their victims whole after striking them to death with venom. The venom these reptiles produce is potent against humans and can cause debilitating symptoms that may lead to death.

These serpents are closely related to western diamondback rattlesnakes and have similar appearances. However, red diamond rattlesnakes take on a reddish appearance as they mature into adults.

54. Tiger Rattlesnake 

Tiger Rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris) rolled up in dry grass and straw in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, USA
Tiger Rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris) rolled up in dry grass and straw in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus tigris
  • Other Names: Tiger Rattler
  • Adult Size: 24 to 36 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Tiger rattlesnakes have small heads relative to other rattlesnakes, and their gray to brownish-gray bodies are covered in dark crossbands that give them the tiger-like appearance after which they are named.

These serpents are skilled solitary hunters that feed on small mammals like kangaroo rats and mice as adults, while juveniles are more likely to consume lizards. They consume their prey whole.

Like other rattlesnakes, tiger rattlesnakes are venomous. They don’t use this venom when hunting prey, but they don’t hesitate to use it against humans when threatened or disturbed. This venom has neurotoxins that cause paralysis and may lead to death.

55. Rock Rattlesnake 

Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) under a rock in leaf litter at an unknown location
Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) under a rock in leaf litter at an unknown location. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus lepidus
  • Other Names: Blue Rattlesnake, Pink Rattlesnake, Green Rattlesnake, Little Green Rattlesnake, Eastern Rock Rattlesnake,  Texas Rock Rattlesnake, White Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: Up to 32 inches
  • Lifespan: 25 to 33 years
  • Average Price Range: About $250

The rock rattlesnake gets its name from its tendency to live in areas with plenty of rocks, among which its coloration sometimes provides it with camouflage. The snake’s color varies with the subspecies, but it often matches the color of the rocks where it lives.

Many rock rattlesnakes live in areas with limestone deposits and have light gray ground colors that match their surroundings. Their bodies typically have dark gray bands. But in some subspecies, these bands are reduced to mottles.

You’ll find most rock rattlesnakes in southern parts of the United States, especially in states like Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. This pit viper is also present in Mexico where it has a more widespread distribution.

56. Speckled Rattlesnake 

Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii) on rocky sand in La Paz, Mexico, North America
Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii) on rocky sand in La Paz, Mexico, North America. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus mitchellii
  • Other Names: Mitchell’s Rattlesnake, White Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: Up to 39 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range: About $300

The speckled rattlesnake is a stout-bodied pit viper with heavily keeled scales, a broad, triangular head, and a narrow neck. This species is called a speckled rattlesnake because it has dark-spotted patterns or speckles on its back.

Like many rattlesnakes, this serpent shows a preference for arid, rocky environments, but you may also find it in hardwood forests. It is most active during the day in the fall, but it becomes more nocturnal in the summer months.

Speckled rattlesnakes feed on rodents, lizards, and birds, which they often bite before swallowing. These serpents release venom when they bite, and this venom is potent enough to harm humans.

57. Western Rattlesnake

Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) in leaves, sticks, rocks, and dried flowers in Chouteau County, Montana, USA
Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) in leaves, sticks, rocks, and dried flowers in Chouteau County, Montana, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus viridis
  • Other Names: Prairie Rattlesnake
  • Adult Size: Up to 60 inches
  • Lifespan: 16 to 24 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The western or prairie rattlesnake is a grayish-brown to reddish-brown pit viper with dark oval blotches on its back that progress into rings toward the snake’s rattle segments. Its underside is usually gray or yellow.

You’ll find western rattlesnakes in many parts of North America, from Canada to Mexico. You’ll find this species in various habitat types, from rocky areas to open prairies where it hunts down rodents and other small reptiles for food.

This serpent is venomous, like other rattlesnakes. But while its bites can cause severe symptoms in humans, it usually only bites people when threatened. It tends to reserve its venom for prey when hunting or predators when defending itself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more about snakes that give live birth? Find answers to specific questions you might have about these fascinating reptiles.

What types of snakes give live birth?

Many types of snakes give live birth. In the United States, snakes that give live birth include boa constrictors, garter snakes, ribbon snakes, water snakes, and some species of pit vipers like rattlesnakes and cottonmouth or copperheads.

Do garter snakes give live birth?

Yes, garter snakes give live birth. So do their close relatives, ribbon snakes.

Do rattlesnakes give live birth?

Yes, rattlesnakes give live birth. There are two genera of rattlesnakes in the United States, and both give birth to their young alive.

Do all venomous snakes give live birth?

No, not all venomous snakes give live birth. Most lay eggs that hatch into snakes later, but some species of venomous snakes give birth to their young alive.

Do pit vipers give live birth?

Yes, some pit vipers give live birth. But not all of them do. This large sub-family of vipers includes many egg-laying species.

Are snakes that give live birth mammals?

No, snakes that give live birth aren’t mammals. They are reptiles. Although mammals are the animal group most well-known for giving birth to their young alive, this distinction isn’t so clear-cut among reptiles like snakes. Some snakes lay eggs, while others give live birth.

Are snakes that give live birth venomous?

Not necessarily. Many snakes that give live birth are non-venomous, especially colubrids and boa constrictors. However, there are also many venomous snakes that give live birth, such as elapids and vipers.

How many snakes give live birth?

It’s unclear how many snakes give live birth, but experts put estimates at about 20 to 30 percent of snake species. In the United States, about 57 snake species give birth to their young ones alive.

What are the most common snakes that give live birth?

This depends on where you live. But garter snakes, water snakes, and rattlesnakes are among the most common snakes that give live birth in the United States.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen here, there are many different types of snakes that give live birth. And while some of them share similarities with each other, there’s also a lot of diversity among these fascinating reptiles.

You’ll find many snake families represented among live-bearing snakes by one or two subfamilies, genera, or species. Some of these snakes are primarily aquatic, while others are more terrestrial than aquatic.

These reptiles also show varying degrees of receptiveness to handling. So while you might be comfortable keeping some species as pets because they’re non-venomous and inoffensive, some don’t take kindly to handling and are venomous and aggressive.

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