Alabama Snakes Identification Guide: Species Background & Traits

There are many Alabama snakes of both venomous and non-venomous types. People often get frightened of these special creatures.

Alabama is one of the warmer states in the US and, as such, maintains a larger variety of snake species than the cool states.

Snakes in Alabama range from the deadly Timber rattlesnake to the harmless bull snake with its pattern of alternating dark rusty brown and cream blotches.

We’ll take a closer look at some of the species, and how to react if you discover a snake. At the end of the article, we’ll also share some useful resources.

Cottonmouth Snake facing the camera
The cottonmouth is an extremely venomous snake with excellent camouflage.

Snake Identification Basics

Many Alabama snakes may appear similar to the untrained eye. Even within a single species, genetic variations can lead to various patterns and colors.

There are a few significant factors to bear in mind when trying to identify a snake. These include:

  • Length
  • Locality
  • Pupil shape
  • Habitat type
  • Head shape
  • Coloration and Patterning

Each of these things can play a significant part in identification.

Length

Most snakes average at a certain length.

If you see an eight-foot-long snake in Alabama, you can bet that it’s an Eastern Indigo Snake. None of the other snakes reach similar lengths.

A remarkably short snake excludes large species like the Timber rattlesnake or the Eastern Indigo.

Locality and Habitat Type

A snake’s distribution range and habitat preferences also play a role in identification.

If you find a snake in the Northeast part of Alabama, you can rule out the Pigmy Rattlesnake and the Cottonmouth. Neither snake lives in that area.

If the snake looks like a pit viper in that region, then it has to be one of the other three pit viper species.

Assuming it’s a marshy habitat type, the Copperhead is probably the more likely ID.

Knowing which snakes live where, and what habitats they like, can help keep you safe too.

Head and Pupil Shape

The snake’s eye and head shape can also play a significant role in identification.

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule about it, different snakes have different pupil shapes.

All pit vipers have elliptical, or slit-shaped, pupils. However, not all snakes with slit-shaped pupils are pit vipers.

Most of the non-venomous species in the area have round pupils, but so does a coral snake.

Pit vipers like rattlesnakes have broad, shield-shaped heads, but not all snakes with shield-shaped heads are pit vipers.

Kingsnakes have rounded, almost bullet-shaped heads, but not all snakes with this shape are kingsnakes.

Each part of the identification criteria only provides a clue to the snake’s identity, it doesn’t provide a once-and-for-all rule.

Only by combining all the clues do we get a final answer.

Color and Patterning

Colors and patterns vary significantly within a single species. However, they can still play a useful role.

A green snake definitely can’t be an indigo snake, and a bright red snake can’t be a rattlesnake.

The diamonds on a water snake are simple and borderless, while those of a rattlesnake are complex, with yellow borders.

By compiling everything that you observe about a snake, it can lead you to the correct identification.

It’s always best to observe a snake from a safe distance, where you can’t hurt it and it can’t hurt you.

Quickly Identifying Venomous Species

People often search for poisonous snakes in Alabama, then find very little. That’s because the word poisonous means it can kill you if you eat it.

The correct word for a dangerous snake is venomous, and there are a few in Alabama.

The deadly coral snake generally appears similar to the harmless king snakes.

Harmless water snakes can appear similar to rattlesnakes, especially in the case of the diamondback water snake.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at how to identify the venomous snakes in Alabama, and not to confuse them with harmless species.

It’s important to note that these identification pointers won’t work in all parts of the country.

Most of the Venomous Snakes in Alabama are Vipers

Of the six venomous snakes found in Alabama, five are types of viper or pit viper.

These five species share some common characteristics.

Scientific Name:

Family Crotalidae

Subfamily Crotalinae

Agkistrodon – Copperheads and Moccasins

Crotalus – Rattlesnakes

Sistrurus – Pigmy rattlesnakes

Range:

Throughout Alabama

Adult Size:

Ranging from one-and-a-half to seven feet, depending on the species.

Description:

Thick, stocky bodies with broad heads.

Heat pits on both sides of the face, below the eye but above the nostril.

Pupils are generally elliptical (slit-shaped).

May have a rattle (in Crotalus and Sistrurus).

Color ranges from dark brown to dark gray or copper-colored.

Habitat:

Forests, Woodlands, Scrublands, Marshes

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

How to Identify Coral Snakes

The Eastern Coral snakes are one of the most venomous species found in Alabama.

Scientific Name:

Micrurus fulvius

Range:

Scattered, most common in Central Alabama

Adult Size:

Reaches lengths of nearly four feet

Description:

A vibrant snake, black with large red bands.

The red bands have a yellow or golden stripe on each side of them.

A black snout.

Smooth body scales, round pupils, and a slightly beaked snout.

Habitat:

Forests, sometimes marshland

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

The coral snake is one of the most venomous snakes in the region. Unfortunately, it’s easy to confuse it with species like the red milk snake.

Both are medium-sized snakes with the same dominant colors.

Medium-sized Milk snake
The milk snake is a convincing, but harmless, mimic of the coral snake.

This conundrum has given rise to little nursery rhymes like “Red next to black, a friend of Jack” and “Red touching yellow, kill a fellow”.

In the coral snake, a broad yellow band lies next to the red segments. Red milk snakes either lack the yellow bands, or they don’t touch the red.

However, it’s worth noting that these rhymes only work in North America. In other localities, they might steer you wrong.

These rhymes also aren’t 100% accurate. Snakes can sometimes present with aberrant (unusual) coloring and patterns.

A coral snake or milk snake with slightly different patterns can easily look like a member of the other species.

It’s interesting to note that these snakes belong to the family Elapidae. This family contains many of the most venomous snakes in the world.

Cobras, Sea Kraits, and other cobra-like snakes belong to this family.

The coral snakes are the only indigenous members of this family found in North America.

Which Snakes Live in Alabama?

Alabama has approximately 43 species of snake, according to the Alabama State University.

These consist of a few main groups, and many other individual species.

The six venomous species are:

  • Pigmy RattlesnakeSistrurus miliarius
  • Timber RattlesnakeCrotalus horridus
  • Eastern Coral snakeMicrurus fulvius
  • Eastern CopperheadAgkistrodon contortrix
  • Northern CottonmouthAgkistrodon piscivorus
  • Eastern Diamondback RattlesnakeCrotalus adamanteus

The non-venomous species are vast and varied, but include the following:

  • Water Snakes – Genus Nerodia
      • Saltmarsh SnakeNerodia clarkii
      • Brown WatersnakeNerodia taxispilota
      • Common WatersnakeNerodia sipedon
      • Southern Water snakeNerodia fasciata
      • Plain-bellied WatersnakeNerodia erythrogaster
      • Diamondback WatersnakeNerodia rhombifer
      • Mississippi Green WatersnakeNerodia cyclopion
  • Kingsnakes – Genus Lampropeltis

      • Red MilksnakeLampropeltis triangulum
      • Black KingsnakeLampropeltis nigra
      • Prairie KingsnakeLampropeltis calligaster
      • Eastern Kingsnake Lampropeltis getula
      • Scarlet King SnakeLampropeltis elapsoides
      • Speckled KingsnakeLampropeltis holbrooki
  • Rat Snakes – Genus Pantherophis
      • Corn SnakePantherophis guttatus
      • Gray Rat SnakePantherophis spiloides
  • Swamp Snakes – Genus Liodytes
      • Black SwampsnakeLiodytes pygaea
      • Glossy Crayfish SnakeLiodytes rigida
  • Garter Snakes – Genus Thamnophis
      • Ribbon SnakeThamnophis saurita
      • Common Garter SnakeThamnophis sirtalis
  • Brown Snakes – Genus Storeria
      • Red-bellied SnakeStoreria oipitomaculata
      • Dekay’s Brown Snake Storeria dekayi

The other 16 non-venomous species are single representatives of their genera. These include:

  • Mud snakeFarancia abacura
  • Pine SnakePituophis melanoleucus
  • Coachwhip Masticophis flagellum
  • Queen snakeRegina septemvittata
  • Scarlet SnakeCemophora coinea
  • Rough Earth snakeHaldea striatula
  • Rough Green SnakeOpheodrys aestivus
  • Ring-necked SnakeDiadophis punctatus
  • Smooth Earth snakeVirginia valeriae
  • Eastern Worm SnakeCarphophis amoenus
  • Eastern Indigo SnakeDrymarchon couperi
  • Brahminy BlindsnakeIndotyphlops braminus
  • North American RacerColuber constrictor
  • Eastern Hognose Snake Heterodon platirhinos
  • Eastern Wood SnakeRhadinaea flavilata
  • Southeastern Crowned SnakeTantilla coronata

Not all of these species are equally common, and you’re highly unlikely to encounter some of them.

Most Common Snakes in Alabama

We’ve taken a closer look at the snakes that people often report sightings of on websites like iNaturalist.org

This allows us to bring you information about the most common snakes in Alabama.

Since we cover some of these species in detail in other sections, we’ll only cover the species not yet covered.

The most commonly encountered snakes in Alabama (by the number of reported sightings) include:

  1. Gray Rat SnakePantherophis spiloides
  2. Common WatersnakeNerodia sipedon
  3. Northern CottonmouthAgkistrodon piscivorus
  4. North American RacerColuber constrictor
  5. Timber RattlesnakeCrotalus horridus
  6. Dekay’s Brown Snake Storeria dekayi
  7. Eastern CopperheadAgkistrodon contortrix
  8. Common Garter SnakeThamnophis sirtalis
  9. Ring-necked SnakeDiadophis punctatus
  10. Black KingsnakeLampropeltis nigra

Gray Rat Snake

A gray rat snake in Alabama is usually light gray with dark brown or dark gray blotches.

Scientific Name:

Pantherophis spiloides

Range:

Throughout Alabama

Adult Size:

42-72 inches

Description:

Brown snakes, speckled or blotched in other shades of brown.

A light tan, or white, underside. A long, thin, whip-like tail, and a slender body.

The face seems slightly flattened from above and has round pupils.

Habitat:

Forests and woodlands, other plant-dense habitats

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

This species is in the same genus as the corn snake and shares many characteristics with it. Both are slender snakes that feed mainly on rodents.

Gray slender rat snake on the ground
Gray rat snakes are harmless, but common, inhabitants of Alabama.
Image credit: u/sparab (via Reddit.com)

You’ll find them anywhere with a large enough rodent population to maintain them.

This is typically a medium-sized snake but may reach lengths of up to six feet. They’re harmless to humans, but bites can be painful.

North American Racer

The North American or Eastern racer is a highly variable snake. It can be dark brown, dark gray, or pitch black.

Scientific Name:

Coluber constrictor

Range:

Throughout Alabama

Adult Size:

Up to 60 inches

Description:

Solid black or brown with a lighter underside.

Juveniles have a speckled or blotched pattern.

Elongated, rounded snouts, and round pupils.

Habitat:

Generalists: common in most habitats, including urban areas.

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

This slender snake reaches lengths of nearly five feet, though it averages at three to four feet in length.

Juveniles have a vastly different appearance, sporting black-bordered dark gray blotches down their backs.

North American racer snake on top of soil
The North American racer might look dangerous, but it’s completely harmless.

Dekay’s Brownsnake

Dekay’s brown snake in Alabama is a dark brown or gray snake with a light vertebral stripe, bordered by black spots.

Scientific Name:

Storeria dekayi

Range:

Southwest, central, and northern Alabama

Adult Size:

6-13 inches

Description:

A long-tailed brown snake with a lighter brown vertical stripe.

A sharp, but rounded, face with round pupils.

Habitat:

Moist areas, especially around swamps and wetlands

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

This small and slender snake generally reaches lengths of up to 12 inches.

They have a somewhat unusual diet consisting of slugs, snails, and earthworms.

Dekay's Brown snake on a branch
Dekay’s brown snake is an avid predator of slugs and snails.

Common Garter Snake

The common garter snake is a regular visitor around human habitations.

Scientific Name:

Thamnophis sirtalis

Range:

Throughout Alabama

Adult Size:

18-26 inches

Description:

Brown or black snakes with three light stripes, flanked by black dots.

A light tan belly.

An elongated, slightly sharp face with round pupils.

Habitat:

Garter snakes are habitat generalists, but often live near moist habitats like swamps, marshes, and wetlands

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

It’s attracted to the warmth of homes, as well as the rodents that live near them.

Since these snakes are proficient climbers, they may sometimes come in through open windows.

However, the experience is as frightening for them as it is for you, and they’d rather be outside.

This species is a medium-sized snake with a light yellow vertebral stripe. There’s plenty of variation though, so you may see other patterns too.

Garter Snake with its tongue out
Garter snakes often take trips through houses by entering open windows.

Ring-Necked Snake

The ring-necked snake is a dark brown or black species with a bright red belly. It also has a violent red band around its neck.

Scientific Name:

Diadophis punctatus

Range:

Scattered distribution throughout the state

Adult Size:

10-15 inches

Description:

Gray or brown snakes with a bright orange or red belly. They have a ring of the same color around their necks.

Rounded snouts and round pupils characterize these snakes.

Habitat:

Wetlands and mountainous areas

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

We can only assume that the bright coloration is supposed to fool predators into thinking that this is a venomous species.

However, these snakes are perfectly harmless. They’re a small species, reaching lengths of around 15 inches.

Ring-necked Snake slitehring among dead branches and leaves
The ring-necked snake has a bright orange belly, and a ring around its neck.

Black Kingsnakes and Their Kin

The black kingsnake is similar to other species in its genus. While it’s one of the most commonly sighted, they share similar habits.

Here’s an overview of the king snakes’ common characteristics:

Scientific Name:

Genus Lampropeltis

Range:

Throughout Alabama

Adult Size:

Varied, ranging from 24 to 60 inches

Description:

Smooth, shield-like scales, ranging in color from black to brown and gray.

Round pupils and flattened snouts characterize these animals.

Habitat:

Woodlands, forests, and prairies

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

Black kingsnake against a white background
Black kingsnakes are harmless snakes often kept as pets.

Venomous Snakes in Alabama

Alabama has a handful of medically significant venomous snakes. As with several of the other states, pit vipers are the main culprits.

Three of the pit vipers found in Alabama are rattlesnakes, and a fourth is a pigmy rattlesnake.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

The Eastern diamondback rattlesnake is one of the most common venomous snakes in Alabama.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake on top of dead grass
The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Crotalus Adamanteus, is large and feisty.

It’s also the largest species of rattlesnake, reaching lengths of nearly seven feet. They prefer habitats like woodlands and marshlands.

Scientific Name:

Crotalus adamanteus

Range:

Southern and South-Central Alabama

Adult Size:

33-72 inches

Description:

Brown or gray with yellow-bordered diamond shapes down their backs.

Their heads are shield-shaped with large heat-sensing pits, and slit-shaped pupils.

Habitat:

Sandy areas and woodlands

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

As the name suggests, these snakes have a series of diamond-shaped markings down their spines.

They’re dark gray snakes with dark brown markings inside a yellow border.

Timber Rattlesnake

The timber rattlesnake is a large snake that prefers forest habitats. This species is light brown with dark brown bands.

Scientific Name:

Crotalus horridus

Range:

South-Central to Northern Alabama

Adult Size:

30-60 inches

Description:

Large, bulky tan or gray snakes with dark brown to black banding.

They have shield-shaped heads with elliptical pupils, and large, heat-sensing pits.

Habitat:

Woodlands and forests, swamps and marshlands

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

As its other name, the banded rattlesnake, suggests this snake has a series of bands across its body.

These animals reach lengths of up to five feet.

Timber Rattlesnake positioned near a large rock
The timber rattlesnake is one of the largest venomous snakes in the region.

Pigmy Rattlesnake

The Pigmy rattlesnake, also known as a puff adder, is a small snake. Like all rattlesnakes, it’s venomous and medically significant.

Scientific Name:

Sistrurus miliarius

Range:

South, Central, and Northwest Alabama

Adult Size:

16-24 inches

Description:

A small, stockily-built snake.

Brown, with dark brown spots and two dark bands across the face.

Pupils are elliptical, the head is shield-shaped, and heat pits are present between the eyes and nostrils.

Habitat:

Woodlands, prairies, and marshy areas

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

Pigmy rattlesnakes in Alabama prefer low-level habitats like prairies and flatlands. They also frequent areas with water, like around marshes and rivers.

Reaching lengths of just under three feet (in exceptional cases), this is the smallest rattlesnake in Alabama.

They’re dark gray with black blotches down the lengths of their body.

Pigmy Rattlesanke positioned near two large rocks
The pigmy rattlesnake, is a short, thick-bodied snake.

Cottonmouth

Like other pit vipers, the Cottonmouth has potentially deadly venom. Typically, people step on it by accident thanks to its excellent camouflage.

Scientific Name:

Agkistrodon piscivorus

Range:

All of Alabama, except the Northeast

Adult Size:

Around 31 inches

Description:

A medium-large snake banded in various shades of brown.

The pupils are elliptical, and the mouth has a pure white interior.

Shield-shaped head with heat pits between the eyes and nostrils.

Habitat:

Swamps and marshlands; other areas around fresh water

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

It gets its name from the extremely white inside of its mouth, which resembles cotton.

Like other pit vipers, but unlike rattlesnakes, the cottonmouth doesn’t have a rattle for scaring predators.

Instead, it opens its mouth wide to display the shocking white color to potential predators.

These animals reach lengths of around four feet but may get even bigger.

Cottonmouth snake on top of a large rock
The cottonmouth gets its name from its white mouth.

Copperhead

The copperhead is the last of the Alabaman pit vipers. It gets its name for the bronze coloration which dominates its head.

Scientific Name:

Agkistrodon contortrix

Range:

Central and northern Alabama

Adult Size:

24-36 inches

Description:

Elliptical pupil shape

Heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils

Shield-shaped head

Tan-colored with red-brown banding

Habitat:

Forests and wetlands

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

It’s a medium-sized snake reaching lengths of around three feet on average. Typically, they have light tan bodies with copper-colored bands and heads.

medium-sized water moccasin Alabama snake
Copperheads love to live near water, which resulted in their other name: water moccasin.

Its coloration camouflages it perfectly among the leaf litter and sandy areas that it loves to live in.

Some people say that the southern water snake looks like a copperhead or rattlesnake.

You can easily distinguish it from either of the pit vipers because it has long thin bands, rather than triangular ones.

It also tends to spend its time in or around the water.

Eastern Coral Snake

The Eastern coral snake is an Alabama black snake with a series of red and yellow rings.

Scientific Name:

Micrurus fulvius

Range:

South Alabama

Adult Size:

Two to four feet

Description:

Shiny black snakes with red and yellow bands.
Beak-like snout, with round pupils.

Habitat:

Forest leaf litter, areas close to lakes

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

All of the venomous snakes in Alabama are pit vipers, except for this relative of the cobras.

These snakes can reach lengths of around four feet, but average at two or three.

The venom of Eastern coral snakes is highly dangerous and can lead to death within hours.

Eastern coral snake
The coral snake sports many colors and a lethal bite.

Water Snakes in Alabama

There are several different water snakes in Alabama. They get their name because they typically live near water sources and often swim.

An Alabama water snake
Some water snakes resemble rattlesnakes at first glance.

Here are some of the main characteristics of these species:

Scientific Name:

Genus Nerodia

Range:

Across Alabama, but most common in the Northern regions.

Adult Size:

Medium-sized snakes, averaging around 40-60 inches.

Description:

Highly variable coloration. The diamond-backed water snake has diamond-shaped blotches outlined against a light brown background.

The yellow-bellied water snake has a glossy black surface and a yellow belly.

All species have flattened heads, round pupils, and keeled dorsal scales (the scales have slightly raised edges).

Habitat:

Marshes, swamps, and forests near water sources.

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

The diamond-backed water snake deserves a special mention at this stage.

People often confuse it for the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, because it also has diamond-shaped patterns on its back.

It’s easy to distinguish this species from the venomous snake for multiple reasons. Namely, the water snake:

  • Lacks a rattle
  • Has round pupils
  • Is a slender snake
  • Has a shiny head that isn’t broad
  • Has patterns that lack a yellow or golden border

Iconic Alabama Snake Species

If you were to go on a field trip to see some of Alabama’s most iconic snakes, which ones would make the list? Here’s our fave five:

Mud Snakes

Mud snakes are harmless water snakes, more or less.

Scientific Name:

Farancia abacura

Range:

Central and Southern Alabama

Adult Size:

Up to 81 inches

Description:

Glossy black snakes with black-and-red banded bellies.

A rounded snout and round pupils complete the image.

Habitat:

Marshland and swampy lowland

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

They spend most of their time in or around water, though they’re in a different genus to the true water snakes.

A mud snake with red splotches on its belly
The mud snake has a bright red belly which it uses in a threat display to frighten predators.

The mud snake, and other species in this genus, have a bright red belly which it uses in a display to frighten predators.

There’s little chance of your mistaking the mud snake for another species since the species with similar colors don’t have black bands between the red.

The mud snake has a distinct head with bright, glossy black scales.

Eastern Indigo Snake

Until a few years ago, the Eastern indigo snake was potentially extinct in Alabama.

Scientific Name:

Drymarchon couperi

Range:

Scattered, considered a threatened species

Adult Size:

Up to eight feet

Description:

A bluish-black snake with a red or brown throat and cheeks.

They have large, smooth scales and round pupils.

Habitat:

Moist woodlands and forests

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

Thanks to a collaboration with Zoo Atlanta, and the Central Florida Zoo, officials were able to release captive-bred snakes in 2019.

Indigo Snake with its tongue out against a black background
The indigo snake gets its name from its bluish-black coloration.

In 2020, the first wild indigo snake was seen in Alabama after nearly 60 years without a sighting.

These beautiful animals are the longest snakes in North America, reaching lengths of up to eight feet.

They’re typically blue or black with a red or brown chin and cheeks. These threatened animals are a truly iconic conservation success story.

Scarlet Snakes

The Scarlet Snake is a relatively small species with alternate bands of red and cream.

Scarlet snake in a natural habitat
Scarlet Snakes are harmless mimics of the venomous Coral snake.

Scientific Name:

Cemophora coccinea

Range:

Throughout Alabama

Adult Size:

Small, around 20 inches

Description:

Small red snakes with white or yellow bellies.

They also have black and yellow bands across their bodies.

The snout shape is rounded, and they have round pupils.

Habitat:

Any habitat with soft soils, prefers forests and woodlands.

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

These striking snakes reach lengths of around 20 inches and may look like a coral snake to the casual observer.

However, as with the Red milk snake, the colors are arranged differently. Also, scarlet snakes have broken banding, rather than solid banding.

Eastern Coachwhip

The Eastern coachwhip is a snake of legend. Old wives’ tales abound about this species, telling how it chases down children or whips people to death.

Scientific Name:

Masticophis flagellum

Range:

Common in most of Alabama

Adult Size:

50 to 72 inches

Description:

Large, brown or gray snakes with a whip-like tail shape.

These snakes have rounded snouts and large round pupils.

Habitat:

Sandy habitats, often near water

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

Closeup of a coachwhip's head
The coachwhip is a long snake with a thin, whip-like tail.

We’re happy to report that this snake is harmless.

Not only is it non-venomous, but the only way it would whip you was in its effort to get away.

These snakes reach lengths of up to 72 inches. They’re generally light brown, with the color darkening to black on their tails.

Rough Green Snakes

Rough green snakes are common visitors to planted gardens. They’re also known as grass snakes since they spend so much time among the grass.

Scientific Name:

Opheodrys aestivus

Range:

Throughout Alabama

Adult Size:

Up to 32 inches

Description:

Long, slender green snakes with a white or yellow belly.

Their faces are sharply pointed, and they have round pupils.

Habitat:

Meadows and woodlands, preferably near water.

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

This is a harmless species, though its threat displays are intimidating. It has a bright white mouth, which contrasts sharply with the green dorsal scales.

Rough green snake against a black background
The rough green snake is a common visitor in densely-planted gardens.

Rough green snakes have a yellow or white belly, which contrasts beautifully with the green surface.

They’re fairly long snakes, reaching lengths of up to 32 inches.

What You Need to Know

Alabama is hot and humid, which makes it perfect snake territory. You can see many different species in this region.

However, snakes rarely, if ever, pursue a human. They only have one aim, to get away from you.

You need to know which venomous snakes live in your area, and what to do if you encounter one.

Always wear sturdy shoes if you’re going hiking or entering an overgrown piece of property.

Few people die from venomous snakebites, because antivenoms are available at most medical centers.

Always treat snakes with respect, and leave any snake you encounter to go its way in peace.

Coexisting with Alabama Snakes

While some of the snakes found in Alabama are venomous, they’re not “out to get you”. In truth, most snakes are more terrified of us than we are of them.

In most cases, a snake (even a deadly snake, like the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake) will only bite if you step on it, or make it feel threatened.

Snakes play a massive role in preserving the ecosystem. They also help to control diseases like Lyme disease by controlling rodent populations.

Without animals like the gray rat snake and the Eastern hognose snake, rodent populations would soon reach an unmanageable size.

The key to cohabiting with snakes is to swallow your discomfort. It may not be pleasant, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Educate yourself about the purpose of snakes, and how they truly live, and they’ll soon become much less frightening.

Always treat snakes with respect and, if necessary, call in a snake handler to remove potentially lethal species.

Snake Safety 101

There are steps that you can take to help you stay safe around snakes, even the potentially lethal ones.

The following sections will take a closer look at how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

About Venomous Snakes

Many snakes have painful bites, but few of them are truly dangerous to humans.

Most venomous snakes use a combination of different venoms to subdue and kill their prey. They’ll also use it in self-defense.

Despite their effective self-defense, most snakes prefer avoiding humans.

The six venomous snake species in Alabama can all deliver painful bites that may lead to hospitalization.

Venomous snake bites can lead to death, but it’s an uncommon occurrence in the United States.

The best way to avoid painful mishaps is to tread carefully in habitats where snakes are likely to dwell.

Treading Carefully in Snake Habitat

You’ll never have anything to fear from a snake unless you step on it or make it feel endangered.

For this reason, it’s important to pay careful attention when entering a potential snake habitat.

Some of the best things to do include:

  • Wearing sturdy shoes
  • Keeping pets on leashes
  • Staying on well-used paths and foot-trails

Most snakes will slither away from your movements when they feel you coming.

However, pit vipers tend to rely on their camouflage to keep them hidden. It’s important to stick to areas where you can easily see what you’re stepping on.

Most of the snake species in Alabama prefer habitats like prairie, grassland, marshes, and forests.

If you’re entering these habitats, pay careful attention to your surroundings.

If You Encounter a Snake

If you’re blessed with a sighting of a wild snake, stay calm and admire its beauty.

Not even the largest snake will consider a human as food. Instead, they’ll consider you a predator.

There’s no reason to worry that the reptile might chase you or eat you. If a snake gives a threat display, it’s a sign that it feels threatened.

NEVER chase, move, or try to kill a snake that you find. Unless it’s in a place where it poses a threat to you or your family, leave it alone.

If it’s in a place where it might get hurt, or hurt someone else, it’s best to contact a snake handler.

Check out our useful resources section later on for all the essential contacts you’ll need.

When to Call for Help

If you find a snake that needs to be relocated, contact a local snake handler or animal control.

If it doesn’t pose a risk to anyone and isn’t at risk, then there’s no need to move it. Each area needs some snakes to help keep the ecosystem balanced.

Call 911 immediately if a venomous snake bites you. If you get bitten but aren’t sure if the snake was venomous, it’s best to seek medical help.

The longer the timeframe between the bite and the administration of antivenom, the less effective the treatment.

You should also get a tetanus shot if you experience a snake bite. If you think that a snake has bitten your pet, get veterinary help immediately.

The ASPCA can also help you and will offer useful advice. Their contact details are in the useful resources section.

Useful Resources

We’ve constructed a list of some of the most essential contacts and resources if you meet a snake, or one bites you.

Emergency Poisoning Advice

If a snake bites you, you can phone the Poison Control Center’s national hotline: 1-800-222-1222

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poisoning Hotline can help you if a snake bites your pet: 1-888-426-4435.

Snake Relocation Services

The Free Snake Relocation Directory group on Facebook can put you in touch with snake handlers in your area.

A licensed Nuisance Wildlife Operator can also remove snakes and other wildlife from your property.

Educational Resources

The Alabama Fish and Wildlife Service offers information about how to interact with and conserve wildlife.

iNaturalist is an excellent resource for identifying and learning more about local wildlife.

Partners in Amphibian and Wildlife Conservation teach about how to protect, conserve, and live with, amphibians and reptiles.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about the snakes of Alabama. Don’t forget to check out other articles like our guides to the snakes of Wisconsin, LouisianaHawaii, South Carolina, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri, Georgia, Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee

Do snakes frighten you? Let us know in the comments.

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