Feature
Common Snakes of Texas
Learn to tell the difference

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    Coachwhip
    IMAGE: Irina K. | Shutterstock.com
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    Cottonmouth
    IMAGE: Collen Linstrom | Shutterstock.com
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    Copperhead
    IMAGE: Rusty Dodson | Shutterstock.com
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    Coral snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
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    Texas rat snake
    IMAGE: Danita Delmont | Shutterstock.com
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    Hog-Nosed snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
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    Diamondback water snake
    IMAGE: Frode Jacobsen | Shutterstock.com
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    Speckled king snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com

Venomous Snakes

 

Rattlesnakes are not the only venomous snakes in Texas, though they are by far the most common and tend to strike the most fear in Texans’ hearts.

 

  • Coachwhip
    IMAGE: Irina K. | Shutterstock.com
  • Cottonmouth
    IMAGE: Collen Linstrom | Shutterstock.com
  • Copperhead
    IMAGE: Rusty Dodson | Shutterstock.com
  • Coral snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Texas rat snake
    IMAGE: Danita Delmont | Shutterstock.com
  • Hog-Nosed snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Diamondback water snake
    IMAGE: Frode Jacobsen | Shutterstock.com
  • Speckled king snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com

Next on the list of most feared snakes is the cottonmouth, or water moccasin. Ranging in color from a splotchy gray to nearly black, it is commonly found around swampy, slow-water terrain and habitat.

 

  • Coachwhip
    IMAGE: Irina K. | Shutterstock.com
  • Cottonmouth
    IMAGE: Collen Linstrom | Shutterstock.com
  • Copperhead
    IMAGE: Rusty Dodson | Shutterstock.com
  • Coral snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Texas rat snake
    IMAGE: Danita Delmont | Shutterstock.com
  • Hog-Nosed snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Diamondback water snake
    IMAGE: Frode Jacobsen | Shutterstock.com
  • Speckled king snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com

The copperhead is a small, beautifully colored and patterned snake found mostly in yards and wooded areas of East Texas but also Central Texas. It is common in cities and towns and is known to deliver bites to children playing outside or adults walking on the lawn.

 

  • Coachwhip
    IMAGE: Irina K. | Shutterstock.com
  • Cottonmouth
    IMAGE: Collen Linstrom | Shutterstock.com
  • Copperhead
    IMAGE: Rusty Dodson | Shutterstock.com
  • Coral snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Texas rat snake
    IMAGE: Danita Delmont | Shutterstock.com
  • Hog-Nosed snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Diamondback water snake
    IMAGE: Frode Jacobsen | Shutterstock.com
  • Speckled king snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com

Coral snakes, which deliver neurotoxic venom, are found throughout the eastern half of the state, including Central Texas. They are small, slender snakes and must literally chew on a person to get their venom into the bite.

 

Related Story

An outdoors journalist comes to admire rattlesnakes in A Snake to Love.

 

Nonvenomous Snakes

 

  • Coachwhip
    IMAGE: Irina K. | Shutterstock.com
  • Cottonmouth
    IMAGE: Collen Linstrom | Shutterstock.com
  • Copperhead
    IMAGE: Rusty Dodson | Shutterstock.com
  • Coral snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Texas rat snake
    IMAGE: Danita Delmont | Shutterstock.com
  • Hog-Nosed snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Diamondback water snake
    IMAGE: Frode Jacobsen | Shutterstock.com
  • Speckled king snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com

Coachwhip A slender, mostly light brown to tan snake that will kill and eat rattlesnakes, it doesn’t attack people by whipping their legs, as folklore suggests. It eats birds, small reptiles and almost anything else it can catch and swallow. The Central Texas whipsnake, a member of this family, has a black head and a blackandwhite pattern on the rest of its body.

 

  • Coachwhip
    IMAGE: Irina K. | Shutterstock.com
  • Cottonmouth
    IMAGE: Collen Linstrom | Shutterstock.com
  • Copperhead
    IMAGE: Rusty Dodson | Shutterstock.com
  • Coral snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Texas rat snake
    IMAGE: Danita Delmont | Shutterstock.com
  • Hog-Nosed snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Diamondback water snake
    IMAGE: Frode Jacobsen | Shutterstock.com
  • Speckled king snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com

Texas rat snake Maybe the most common snake in Texas, this acrobatic climber feeds on rats and mice, birds and birds’ eggs. It can grow to be quite large but is not dangerous to humans. It will bite, though, and protect itself with an obnoxious musk.

 

  • Coachwhip
    IMAGE: Irina K. | Shutterstock.com
  • Cottonmouth
    IMAGE: Collen Linstrom | Shutterstock.com
  • Copperhead
    IMAGE: Rusty Dodson | Shutterstock.com
  • Coral snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Texas rat snake
    IMAGE: Danita Delmont | Shutterstock.com
  • Hog-Nosed snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Diamondback water snake
    IMAGE: Frode Jacobsen | Shutterstock.com
  • Speckled king snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com

Hog-nosed snake Most common in East Texas, this little snake has an upturned nose and feeds on insects. It will play dead if threatened. It has a brownish to gray body with broken patterns of brown and black on its back.

 

  • Coachwhip
    IMAGE: Irina K. | Shutterstock.com
  • Cottonmouth
    IMAGE: Collen Linstrom | Shutterstock.com
  • Copperhead
    IMAGE: Rusty Dodson | Shutterstock.com
  • Coral snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Texas rat snake
    IMAGE: Danita Delmont | Shutterstock.com
  • Hog-Nosed snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Diamondback water snake
    IMAGE: Frode Jacobsen | Shutterstock.com
  • Speckled king snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com

Diamondback water snake A brownish snake with yellowish belly, it is common in lakes and ponds through much of Texas, especially the damper eastern half of the state. It eats fish, frogs and other aquatic fauna. It is often mistaken for a water moccasin and killed.

 

  • Coachwhip
    IMAGE: Irina K. | Shutterstock.com
  • Cottonmouth
    IMAGE: Collen Linstrom | Shutterstock.com
  • Copperhead
    IMAGE: Rusty Dodson | Shutterstock.com
  • Coral snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Texas rat snake
    IMAGE: Danita Delmont | Shutterstock.com
  • Hog-Nosed snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com
  • Diamondback water snake
    IMAGE: Frode Jacobsen | Shutterstock.com
  • Speckled king snake
    IMAGE: Joe Farah | Shutterstock.com

Speckled king snake A large snake, it’s commonly known as a chicken snake for its habit of sneaking into hen houses and devouring eggs and baby chicks—though the rat snake is more likely the culprit in those raids.

 

Web Extra: Rattlesnake Realities

• University of Texas herpetologist Travis Laduc lists eight species of rattlesnakes native to the state: western diamondback, found in the western two-thirds of the state; timber or canebrake, found in North and East Texas; rock, found in West Texas through the eastern Hill Country; blacktailed, found in West and Central Texas; Mojave, found in West Texas; prairie, found in the Panhandle and West Texas; western massasauga, found in the Panhandle and North Texas; and pygmy, found in East Texas.

 

• Rattlesnakes are pit vipers, which means they have small pits between their noses and eyes. These are heat-sensing organs.

 

• Rattlers use their rattles to warn away animals they see as threats or potential predators.

 

• Rattlesnake venom is hemotoxic, meaning it affects blood flow and acts on it to destroy tissue. Some rattlesnakes, such as timber rattlers and a few desert species in Arizona and California, have partially neurotoxic venom, which can shut down respiratory and cardiac functions in animals bitten by the snakes.

 

• Female rattlesnakes give birth to live young, and there is emerging evidence that they exhibit some maternal behaviors, such as staying with the young in underground burrows for as long as a couple of weeks after they are born.

 

• Snakes can’t “charm” birds and rodents to lure them into their clutches, despite what legend says.

Learn More

Get up close and personal with snakes, other reptiles and amphibians in Herping Texas.

TAGS: Animals, Nature, Outdoors


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