Snakes of North America


CLASS REPTILA
ORDER SQUAMATA

SUBORDER SERPENTES



FAMILY LEPTOTYPHLOPIDAE (slender blind snakes)

This family of snakes is composed of 50 species in two families. They are generally regarded as the most primitive snakes, having a pelvic girdle and vestiglial hind limbs. They have a single lung and oviduct and are well adapted to their burrowing life style. They feed exclusively on small invertebrates such as ant and termite larvae. Leptotyphlopids are oviparous. There are two species of this family in North America.

Leptotyphlops dulcis Texas Blind Snake
Leptotyphlops humilis Western Blind Snake


FAMILY BOIDAE (boas and pythons)

Boidae is a large family of snakes that includes all five of the world's giant snakes. Boids are an ancient family that are characterized by a mixture of modern and primitive traits. They have flexible jaws found in more advanced families but also retain a pelvic girdle, vestigial hind limbs, and many use both lungs. While there are close to one hundred species of boids worldwide, there are only two species of boas found in North America, both in the sub-family Eryciniae.

Charina bottae Rubber Boa
Lichanura trivirgata Rosy Boa


COLUBRIDAE (colubrid snakes)

The Colubrid snakes are sometimes refered to as "typical snakes". They comprise the largest family by far with over 2000 species worldwide. Most are medium sized snakes, and all lack a pelvic girdle and have no vestigial hind limbs and whose left lung is either absent or greatly reduced. Most species are considered members of two large subfamilies, Colubrinae and Natricinae which are distinguished by the presence (Natricinae) or absence (Colubrinae) of spines on the lumbar vertebrae. Both subfamilies contain over 200 genera. The Colubrinae subfamily includes two of the genera popular with herpetoculturists, Elaphe and Lampropeltis. The Natricinae subfamily includes water snakes (Nerodia) and garter snakes (Thamnophis) among others. With a family this large, there will always be disagreements about classification, especially regarding the numbers and types of subspecies. This list includes 102 species of Colubrid snakes found in North America. Subspecies are not included in this scheme. Other lists may vary.

Arizona elegans Glossy Snake
Bogertophis rosaliae Baja California Rat Snake
Bogertophis subocularis Trans-Pecos Rat Snake
Carphophis amoenus Worm Snake
Cemophora coccinea Scarlet Snake
Chilomeniscus cinctus Banded Sand Snake
Chionactis occipitalis Western Shovelnose Snake
Chionactis palarostris Sonoran Shovelnose Snake
Clonophis kirtlandii Kirtland's Snake
Coluber constrictor Racer
Coniophanes imperialis Black-striped Snake
Contia tenuis Sharptail Snake
Diadophis punctatus Ringneck Snake
Drymarchon corais Indigo Snake
Drymobius margaritiferus Speckled Racer
Elaphe bairdii Baird's Rat Snake
Elaphe emoryi Emory's Rat Snake
Elaphe guttata Corn Snake
Elaphe obsoleta Common Rat Snake
Elaphe slowinskii Slowinski's Corn Snake
Elaphe vulpina Fox Snake
Farancia abacura Mud Snake
Farancia erytrogramma Rainbow Snake
Ficimia streckeri Mexican Hooknose Snake
Gyalopion canum Western Hooknose Snake
Gyalopion quadrangulare Desert Hooknose Snake
Heterodon nasicus Western Hognose Snake
Heterodon platirhinos Eastern Hognose Snake | Picture 2
Heterodon simus Southern Hognose Snake
Hypsiglena torquata Night Snake
Lampropeltis alterna Gray-banded Kingsnake
Lampropeltis calligaster Prairie Kingsnake
Lampropeltis getula Common Kingsnake
Lampropeltis pyromelana Sonora Mountain Kingsnake
Lampropeltis triangulum Milk Snake
Lampropeltis zonata California Mountain Kingsnake
Leptodeira septentrionalis Cat-eyed Snake
Masticophis bilineatus Sonoran Whipsnake
Masticophis flagellum Coachwhip
Masticophis lateralis Striped Racer
Masticophis taeniatus Striped Whipsnake
Nerodia clarkii Salt Marsh Snake
Nerodia cyclopion Mississippi Green Water Snake
Nerodia erythrogaster Plainbelly Water Snake
Nerodia fasciata Southern Water Snake
Nerodia floridana Florida Green Water Snake
Nerodia harteri Brazos Water Snake
Nerodia paucimaculata Concho Water Snake
Nerodia rhombifer Diamondback Water Snake
Nerodia sipedon Nothern Water Snake
Nerodia taxispilota Brown Water Snake
Opheodrys aestivus Rough Green Snake
Opheodrys vernalis Smooth Green Snake
Oxybelis aeneus Mexican Vine Snake
Phyllorhynchus browni Saddle Leafnose Snake
Phyllorhynchus decurtatus Spotted Leafnose Snake
Pituophis catenifer Gopher Snake
Pituophis melanoleucus PineSnake
Regina alleni Striped Crayfish Snake
Regina grahamii Graham's Crayfish Snake
Regina rigida Glossy Crayfish Snake
Regina septemvittata Queen Snake
Rhadinaea flavilata Pine Woods Snake
Rhinocheilus lecontei Longnose Snake
Salvadora derserticola Big Bend Patchnose Snake
Salvadora grahamiae Mountain Patchnose Snake
Salvadora hexalepis Western Patchnose Snake
Seminatrix pygaea Black Swamp Snake
Senticolis triaspis Green Rat Snake
Sonora semiannulata Ground Snake
Stilosoma extenuatum Short-tailed Snake
Storeria dekayi Brown Snake
Storeria occipitomaculata Redbelly Snake
Tantilla atriceps Mexican Blackhead Snake
Tantilla coronata Southeastern Crowned Snake
Tantilla gracilis Flathead Snake
Tantilla hobartsmithi Southwestern Blackhead Snake
Tantilla nigriceps Plains Blackhead Snake
Tantilla oolitica Rim Rock Crowned Snake
Tantilla planiceps Western Blackhead Snake
Tantilla relicta Florida Crowned Snake
Tantilla rubra Big Bend Blackhead Snake
Tantilla wilcoxi Chihuahuan Blackhead Snake
Tantilla yaquia Yaqui Blackhead Snake
Thamnophis atratus Santa Cruz Garter Snake
Thamnophis brachystoma Shorthead Garter Snake
Thamnophis butleri Butler's Garter Snake
Thamnophis couchi Western Aquatic Garter Snake
Thamnophis cyrtopsis Blackneck Garter Snake
Thamnophis elegans Western Terrestrial Garter Snake
Thamnophis eques Mexican Garter Snake
Thamnophis gigas Giant Garter Snake
Thamnophis marcianus Checkered Garter Snake
Thamnophis ordinoides Northwestern Garter Snake
Thamnophis proximus Western Ribbon Snake
Thamnophis radix Plains Garter Snake
Thamnophis rufipunctatus Narrowhead Garter Snake
Thamnophis sauritus Eastern Ribbon Snake
Thamnophis sirtalis Common Garter Snake
Trimorphodon biscutatus Lyre Snake
Tropidoclonion lineatum Lined Snake
Virginia striatula Rough Earth Snake
Virginia valeriae Smooth Earth Snake


ELAPIDAE (cobras and coral snakes)

Venomous

The cobra family is thought to have evolved from Colubrid snakes and many appear very similar in appearance with long, slender bodies and large scales (plates) on the head. They differ in having more advanced venom delivery systems than the venomous Colubrids. Elapids have fangs that are "effectively tubular" in that the fangs contain grooves that are enclosed by an infolding of the edges. The fangs are in the front of the mouth rather than the rear as is seen in venomous Colubrids. The Elapidae contains some of the world's most dangerous snakes including cobras (Naja), mambas (Dendroaspis) and sea snakes (Hydophinae and Laticaudinae). Elapids are found worldwide and in Ausralia are the predominant family. In North America, three species of elapids are found, two species of coral snakes and one sea snake. The coral snakes are relatively small snakes that spend most of their time underground. Their primary food is other snakes. Despite their small size and small fangs, their venom is extremely toxic.

Micruroides euryxanthus Western Coral Snake
Micrurus fulvius Eastern Coral Snake
Pelamis platurus Yellowbelly Sea Snake


VIPERIDAE (vipers)

Venomous

The vipers are generally considered to be the most advanced family of snakes since they possess a very sophisticated venom delivery system. Large tubular fangs are placed in the front of the mouth and they are hinged, allowing them to be folded back when not in use. Their heads are covered with numerous small scales and their eyes have vertically eliptical pupils. All the vipers found in North America are in the subfamily of pit vipers (Crotalinae) having a pair of heat sensing pits located between each eye and nostril. The rattlesnakes are a truly American family of pit vipers since they are not found in the Old World and all but two species are found in the U.S. or Mexico. They are divided between two genera based on their head scales. Members of the genus Crotalus have numerous small scales on their heads while members of the genus Sistrurus have large scales (plates) on their heads.

Agkistrodon contortrix Copperhead
Agkistrodon piscivorus Cottonmouth
Crotalus adamanteus Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Crotalus atrox Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Crotalus cerastes Sidewinder
Crotalus enyo Lower California rattlesnake
Crotalus horridus Timber Rattlesnake
Crotalus lepidus Rock Rattlesnake
Crotalus mitchellii Speckled Rattlesnake
Crotalus molossus Blacktail Rattlesnake
Crotalus pricei Twin-spotted Rattlesnake
Crotalus ruber Red Diamond Rattlesnake
Crotalus scutulatus Mojave Rattlesnake
Crotalus tigris Tiger Rattlesnake
Crotalus viridis Western Rattlesnake
Crotalus willardi Ridgenose Rattlesnake
Sistrurus catenatus Massasauga
Sistrurus miliarius Pigmy Rattlesnake



Scientific and common names from J T Collins, Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles, Third Edition, Soc Study Amph & Rept Herp Circular No , Order of families from J L Behler and F W King, The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians, Alfred A Knopf,

Compiled for Slater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA , by Doug Henderson and Dennis Paulson, October, 1995


More Information on Snakes

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  • Lampropeltis Information
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    Snake Identification

    Please do not email me asking for help identifying your snake.
    I just don't have the time to answer all the emails this site generates. Sorry.

    Here's my advice though. Don't kill it! Leave it alone and it will leave you alone.

    If you really do want to identify a snake, get a field guide at the library or book store. These will have information on the geopgraphic ranges and that will allow you to narrow your search.

    Good luck and thanks for visiting my Snakes of North America page.