Georgia Snakes Identification: Venomous & Non-Venomous Species

Georgia snakes are plentiful and diverse. Thanks to the state’s accommodating climate, many different species call it home.

From non-venomous snakes like the rat snakes to venomous snakes like the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, there’s much to learn.

We’ll teach you about the most common species and the venomous snakes that you need to look out for, and show you some pictures of snakes in Georgia.

We’ll also provide you with the basic skills you need for Georgia snake identification, and dealing with a snake.

At the end of the article, you’ll find a list of resources for dealing with snakes.

Mud snake on top of dead leaves
The mud snake is one of the many distinctive Georgia snakes.

GeorgiaSnakes Identification Basics

When it comes to identifying Georgia snakes, there are a few things you need to keep an eye out for.

Here are the main identification characteristics to look out for:

  • Length
  • Location
  • Head shape
  • Pupil shape
  • Habitat type
  • Color and pattern

Length

The length of the snake is one of the most important identification characteristics.

Snakes like the indigo snake reach much longer lengths than snakes like the blind snake.

Black indigo snake on green grass
The length of the Black Indigo Snake sets it apart from many other species.

If you find a five-foot-long snake, you can easily rule out snakes that only reach lengths of three feet.

However, if you find a juvenile snake, it will have a different appearance and be much shorter than an adult.

Location and Habitat Type

The location where you find the snake is a significant factor in identifying it.

Take the water snakes for example. Of the six species found in Georgia, only three inhabit the Northeastern part of the state.

Sunset in a swampy area
Snakes like water snakes and swamp snakes like habitats that other snakes avoid.

If you find a water snake in the Northeast, you can instantly narrow the search down to the three snakes that live in that area.

The habitat type is equally important. If you find a snake in a marshy wetland, the water snakes and marsh snakes are both viable IDs.

Assuming you find the snake in dry woodland far from any water sources, the water and marsh snakes are unlikely choices.

By knowing where you find the snake, you can specifically research snakes that live in that area and habitat type.

Head and Pupil Shape

In the case of Georgia snakes, and snakes in other areas, the shape of the head and pupils are significant.

Different groups of snakes have eyes with different pupil shapes. Eyes may be either horizontal, vertical, or round.

Closeup of a South American rattlesnake
Rattlesnakes have slit-shaped eyes which set them apart from some other species.

Five of the six venomous snakes in Georgia have elliptical, slit-shaped pupils. The other has a round pupil.

The shape of the head is also significant. Most of the pit vipers have a distinctive, broad, shield-shaped head.

Milk snake next to a thin branch
Milk snakes have longer, rounded faces, rather than shield-shaped heads.

Other species, like coral snakes, have rounded bullet-shaped heads.

Color and Pattern

While coloration varies significantly, even in the same snake species, it can play a significant role in identifying a snake.

Rough Green Snake resting its head on a branch
The rough green snake’s coloration sets it apart from snakes like the rattlesnake.
Image credit: u/Cadmea (via Reddit.com)

For example, a bright red snake certainly won’t be an Eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Likewise, a faded gray snake won’t be a green water snake.

Patterning also plays a role.

The diamondback water snake can look similar to the diamondback rattlesnake.However, the one has basic diamonds, while the other has yellow-bordered diamonds.

There’s NO definitive way of immediately identifying any snake.

The best is to consider all of the characteristics mentioned above, and then look for a snake species that matches all the criteria.

Quickly Identifying Venomous Species

Since there are only six venomous snake species in Georgia, there are a few things you can look for to help you identify them.

While you might think Googling “poisonous snakes in Georgia” will give you the information you need, that’s not the right term.

Poisonous things kill you if you eat them, you’d be looking for “venomous snakes in Georgia” Venomous is the correct term when referring to snakes, scorpions, and spiders.

Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of venomous snakes.

Most of the Venomous Snakes in Georgia are Pit Vipers

Five of the six venomous snakes in Georgia are pit vipers. This group of snakes has some unique defining characteristics.

Look for the following:

  • Elliptical, slit-shaped pupils
  • A broad, shield-shaped head
  • Large, heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils
  • A stocky body shape – the snakes may be long or short, but they’ll be squat.

Most of these snakes have excellent camouflage and tend to hide rather than flee.

If you see a snake with the above characteristics that stays put, it’s probably one of the pit vipers.

Identifying Coral Snakes

The Eastern coral snake is the only one of the venomous snakes that isn’t a pit viper.

This venomous snake is easy to identify, it has:

  • A black, bullet-shaped head
  • Bright red coloration with black and yellow stripes
  • A length of around 18 to 30 inches
Closeup of a Coral Snake
The coral snake has a distinctive black face, and red and yellow bands.

The only other snakes in the state that have similar characteristics to the coral snake are the milk snake and the scarlet snake.

Closeup of a milk snake
The milk snake lacks yellow bands, or the yellow bands are separated from black.

However, for the most part, it’s easy to tell the venomous snake apart from the harmless ones.

The milk snake:

  • Has a shorter face
  • Reaches lengths of 14 to 72 inches
  • Doesn’t have yellow bands touching the red ones

Fun Fact: The milk snake is one of the best pet snakes for beginners.

A Scarlet Snake among dead leaves
The scarlet snake has broken bands, rather than the solid bands of the coral snake.

The scarlet snake:

  • Doesn’t have a black head
  • Reaches lengths of up to 20 inches
  • Has broken black and yellow bands, rather than solid ones
  • Has yellow bands flanked by black instead of black flanked by yellow

The banding is the easiest way to distinguish the three snake species.

The coral snake has yellow bands touching black, while the others have yellow bands touching red.

However, not all snakes will look the same. Aberrations are common, and some snakes may present with different pattern arrangements.

While it’s generally a useful rule of thumb, it’s not foolproof.

The banding differences have led to nursery rhymes like “Red next to black, a friend of Jack” and “Red touching yellow, kill a fellow”.

It’s worth noting that the rhymes are only useful for snakes in the US. In other regions, they can quickly lead you astray.

Which Snakes Live in Georgia?

There are approximately 43 Georgia snakes, including the following venomous species:

  • Pit Vipers
    • Florida Cottonmouth – Agkistrodon conanti
    • Eastern Copperhead – Agkistrodon contortrix
    • Northern Cottonmouth – Agkistrodon piscivorus
    • Timber Rattlesnake – Crotalus horridus
    • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake – Crotalus adamanteus
    • Pygmy Rattlesnake – Sistrurus miliarius
  • Coral Snakes
    • Eastern Coral snake – Micrurus fulvius

Most of the non-venomous species are part of one of the following main groups:

  • Mud Snakes
    • Mud snake – Farancia abacura
    • Rainbow Snake – Farancia erytrogramma
  • Hognose Snakes
    • Eastern Hognose Snake – Heterodon platirhinos
    • Southern Hognose Snake – Heterodon simus
  • Kingsnakes
    • Black Kingsnake – Lampropeltis nigra
    • Prairie Kingsnake – Lampropeltis calligaster
    • Scarlet Kingsnake – Lampropeltis elapsoides
    • Eastern Milksnake – Lampropeltis triangulum
    • Eastern Kingsnake – Lampropeltis getula
  • Swampsnakes
    • Black Swampsnake – Liodytes pygaea
    • Glossy Swampsnake – Liodytes rigida
    • Striped Swampsnake – Liodytes alleni
  • Watersnakes
    • Brown Watersnake – Nerodia taxispilota
    • Banded Water snake – Nerodia fasciata
    • Red-bellied Watersnake – Nerodia erythrogaster
    • Florida Green Watersnake- Nerodia floridana
    • Common / Northern Watersnake – Nerodia sipedon
  • Rat snakes
    • Corn Snake – Pantherophis guttatus
    • Gray Rat snake – Pantherophis spiloides
    • Eastern Rat snake – Pantherophis alleghaniensis
  • Brown Snakes
    • Red-bellied Snake – Storeria occipitomaculata
    • Dekay’s Brown Snake- Storeria dekayi
  • Crowned Snakes
    • Florida Crowned Snake – Tantilla relicta
    • Southeastern Crowned Snake – Tantilla coronata
  • Garter Snakes
    • Ribbon Snake – Thamnophis saurita
    • Eastern Garter Snake – Thamnophis sirtalis

The other non-venomous snakes in Georgia are singular representatives of their genera. They include:

  • Pine Snake – Pituophis melanoleucus
  • CoachwhipMasticophis flagellum
  • Queen snake – Regina septemvittata
  • Scarlet snake – Cemophora coccinea
  • Rough Earth Snake – Haldea striatula
  • Ring-necked Snake – Diadophis punctatus
  • Smooth Earthsnake – Virginia valeriae
  • Rough Green snake – Opheodrys aestivus
  • Eastern Worm Snake – Carphophis amoenus
  • Eastern Indigo Snake – Drymarchon couperi
  • Brahminy Blind snake – Indotyphlops braminus
  • North American Racer – Coluber constrictor
  • Pine Woods Littersnake – Rhadinaea flavilata

Most Common Snakes in Georgia

We’ve combed sites like iNaturalist to find the most common snakes in Georgia.

The top ten most common snakes (by the number of sightings) are the:

  1. Dekay’s Brown snake – Storeria dekayi
  2. Common / Northern Watersnake – Nerodia sipedon
  3. Eastern Rat snake – Pantherophis alleghaniensis
  4. Eastern Garter Snake – Thamnophis sirtalis
  5. North American Racer – Coluber constrictor
  6. Eastern Copperhead – Agkistrodon contortrix
  7. Eastern Kingsnake – Lampropeltis getula
  8. Ring-necked Snake – Diadophis punctatus
  9. Gray Rat snake – Pantherophis spiloides
  10. Timber Rattlesnake – Crotalus horridus

Since we’ve already discussed several of these species elsewhere in the article, we’ll only investigate the other snakes here.

Dekay’s Brownsnake – Storeria dekayi

Dekay's Brown Snake in a tree
Dekay’s Brown Snake feeds predominantly on slugs, snails, and earthworms.

Scientific Name:

Storeria dekayi

Range:

Throughout Georgia

Adult Size:

Between six and 13 inches

Description:

Medium-sized brown snakes with a lighter vertebral stripe.

Glossy scales on the edge of an elongated face give it a fearsome aspect.

Round pupils.

Habitat:

Woodland and forests

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

Eastern Garter Snake – Thamnophis sirtalis

Eastern Garter Snake with its tongue out
The Eastern Garter Snake is a common visitor in homes since it climbs through windows.

Scientific Name:

Thamnophis sirtalis

Range:

Throughout Georgia

Adult Size:

Between 18 and 26 inches

Description:

A relatively colorful snake in shades of brown and yellow.

Three stripes with black spots flanking the central stripe makes this a striking snake.

A long, flattened face with a rounded snout.

Round pupils.

Habitat:

Any habitats with lots of moisture and grass

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

North American Racer – Coluber constrictor

North American Racer on top of soil
The North American Racer is a brown snake with a sharp nose that makes it look angry.

Scientific Name:

Coluber constrictor

Range:

Throughout Georgia

Adult Size:

Up to 60 inches

Description:

A solid black or brown snake with lighter scales on its belly.

Young snakes have blotches or speckles and look significantly different.

A sharp, rounded snout and round pupils characterize the head.

Habitat:

Common in most Georgian habitats

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

Eastern Kingsnake – Lampropeltis getula

Eastern Kingsnake
Eastern Kingsnakes are beautiful snakes with glossy head scales.
Image Credit: Tom Spinker (Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Scientific Name:

Lampropeltis getula

Range:

Throughout Georgia

Adult Size:

Average length of 36 inches

Description:

A medium-large black-and-white or black-and-tan snake with bands or speckles.

A characteristically shiny, and slightly fattened face with a round snout.

Round pupils complete the image.

Habitat:

This king snake in Georgia is a true generalist, thriving on mountains, as well as in swamps, forests, and even gardens.

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

Ring-necked Snake – Diadophis punctatus

Ring-necked snake coiling up
The ring-necked snake’s striking belly plays a part in frightening predators.

Scientific Name:

Diadophis punctatus

Range:

Throughout Georgia

Adult Size:

10 to 15 inches

Description:

A dark brown or light gray snake with a characteristic orange underside.

A ring around the neck sets it apart from other snakes with brightly-colored undersides.

The chin is often covered in small, black speckles.

The snout is rounded and the pupils are circular.

Habitat:

Moist wooded areas and the edges of wetlands

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

Venomous Snakes in Georgia

Only seven of the Georgia snakes are venomous, and six of those seven snake species are pit vipers.

Many people only count six species of venomous snake, presumably because they count both species of cottonmouth as a single type.

The other venomous snake species is the coral snake, which is technically a type of cobra.

The venomous Georgia snakes are:

  • Pygmy Rattlesnake – Sistrurus miliarius
  • Timber Rattlesnake – Crotalus horridus
  • Eastern Coral snake – Micrurus fulvius
  • Eastern Copperhead – Agkistrodon contortrix
  • Florida Cottonmouth – Agkistrodon conanti
  • Northern Cottonmouth – Agkistrodon piscivorus
  • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Crotalus adamanteus

In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at the different groups and species of venomous Georgia snakes.

Rattlesnakes in Georgia

Three of the six Georgian pit vipers are rattlesnakes. They’re distinct from the other vipers because of the iconic rattle which gives them their name.

The last scales on the snakes’ tails are modified so that they make a noise when rubbed together.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake – Crotalus adamanteus

Scientific Name:

Crotalus adamanteus

Range:

Throughout Georgia

Adult Size:

Between 33 and 72 inches

Description:

A large brown snake with dark brown diamonds on its back. Each diamond has a light yellow border and a darker center.

The head is flattened and shield-shaped with distinctive heat pits between the nostrils and eyes.

This snake has elliptical, slit-shaped pupils

Habitat:

Woods, forests, swamps, and marshes

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

The Eastern diamondback rattlesnake is one of the most distinctive snakes in the US. It’s also the largest rattlesnake, and its large, diamond-shaped patterns are iconic.

These snakes typically prefer forests and prairies where they feed mainly on rodents.

Although they’re not uncommon, you’re unlikely to encounter these snakes if you stick to well-trodden trails.

Wild Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake on the ground
The diamondback rattlesnake has a distinctive pattern which sets it apart from other snakes.

Timber Rattlesnake – Crotalus horridus

Scientific Name:

Crotalus horridus

Range:

Throughout Georgia

Adult Size:

Between 30 and 60 inches

Description:

A large brown snake with dark brown or black chevron-like bands.

A chestnut brown stripe runs down the snake’s body, but the bands interrupt it.

The head is shield-shaped, and the pupils are elliptical.

Habitat:

Forests and woodlands

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

The timber rattlesnake is the second-largest rattlesnake in the US.

Thanks to its love for forests and woodlands, hikers and joggers often encounter these animals.

One would think that its distinctive coloration would make it easy to spot. However, this is an approach known as disruptive coloration.

The accumulation of different colors helps the snake to blend into the leaf litter that it frequently spends time on.

Timber Rattlesnake next to a large rock
The timber rattlesnake is the second-largest rattlesnake in the region.

Pygmy Rattlesnake – Sistrurus miliarius

Scientific Name:

Sistrurus miliarius

Range:

South, Central, and Northeast Georgia

Adult Size:

Between 16 and 24 inches

Description:

A small snake with a stocky body build.
Brown-banded face and a brown body with dark brown spots.

Elliptical pupils complete the shield-shaped face.

Habitat:

Forests and woodlands

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

The Pigmy rattlesnake is the smallest of the Georgian pit vipers. It prefers moist woods and forests, and is easy to step on thanks to its excellent camouflage.

A Pigmy Rattlesnake on the ground
The pigmy rattlesnake is a short, stocky species with a severe bite.

Other Pit Vipers

There are three more pit vipers in Georgia. These snakes have the same distinctive head shape and slit-shaped pupils as the rattlesnakes.

However, they lack the iconic rattle that sets the rattlers apart. All three species prefer to live near water sources.

Florida Cottonmouth – Agkistrodon conanti

Scientific Name:

Agkistrodon conanti

Range:

Lower and Central Georgia

Adult Size:

30 to 48 inches

Description:

A large, light-brown snake with wave-like bands in dark brown.

The snake’s face has bands in both colors, which offers it excellent disruptive camouflage.

The shield-like head and slit-shaped pupils give it that distinct pit viper appearance.

The inside of the mouth is perfectly white, and the snake uses it as a threat display.

Habitat:

Semi-aquatic. Prefers marshes, swamps, and other habitats bordering water.

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

The Florida cottonmouth is a relatively distinctive species. Not only is it semi-aquatic, preferring wet and marshy habitats, it also has a distinct pattern.

As long as you don’t step on it accidentally, the cottonmouth is likely to give you a warning before striking at you.

It will open its mouth wide to show the white interior and utter a low hiss.

Eastern Copperhead – Agkistrodon contortrix

Scientific Name:

Agkistrodon contortrix

Range:

Southwest, Central, and Northern Georgia

Adult Size:

Between 24 and 36 inches

Description:

A much lighter snake than the Florida cottonmouth. Rich russet browns and tans make a striking banded pattern.

The shield-like face may have stripes on the cheeks, but not nearly as many as the cottonmouth.

Elliptical, slit-shaped pupils.

Habitat:

Lowland forests, swamps, and marshes

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

The Eastern Copperhead has a distinctive russet and brown coloration. It also has distinctive slit-shaped pupils and a broad, flat head, making it easy to spot.

Another tell-tale sign is the wet, marshy habitat that these snakes prefer.

Copperhead Snake next to a large dead leaf
The Copperhead is remarkably well camouflaged, and easy to step on.

Northern Cottonmouth – Agkistrodon piscivorus

Scientific Name:

Agkistrodon piscivorus

Range:

Western Georgia

Adult Size:

Around 31-33 inches

Description:

A more faded appearance than A. conanti. Highly variable coloration which may or may not include banding.

Snakes may be dark brown or black.

Distinctive white mouth common to all cottonmouths. Typical pit viper head shape with elliptical pupils.

Habitat:

Cypress swamps, wetlands, and other areas near water

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

The Northern cottonmouth has the distinct white mouth lining that all cottonmouths share.

Its patterning can vary significantly, but its more faded look makes it easy to distinguish from the Eastern cottonmouth.

The Latin name piscivorous refers to this snake’s eating habits, and means “fish eating”.

Northern cottonmouth snake with its mouth closed
The Northern cottonmouth has a striking white mouth which gives it its name.

Eastern Coral Snakes – Micrurus fulvius

Scientific Name:

Micrurus fulvius

Range:

Parts of Southern and Central Georgia

Adult Size:

Reaches almost four feet in length

Description:

Distinctive red, black, and yellow bands, with a black head. The snout is rounded and has a slightly beaked look.

A large mouth, round pupils, and diamond-like scales complete the picture.

Habitat:

Woods and forests

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Venomous

Eastern coral snakes belong to the family Elapidae. This family contains all the cobras and sea kraits, some of the most venomous snakes in the world.

Overhead shot of an Eastern Coral Snake
The Eastern Coral Snake may look like a parade float, but its bite is lethal.

In a way, you can consider the Coral snake to be the only cobra in Georgia. As with many other species in this family, these snakes are highly venomous.

Non-Venomous Snakes in Georgia

The majority of Georgia snakes are entirely harmless. Of the approximately 43 species found in the area, only six are venomous snakes.

There are far too many non-venomous snakes to investigate in-depth, but we’ll take a closer look at the types you’re most likely to encounter.

Water Snakes in Georgia

Water snakes are harmless, semi-aquatic species.

A Northern Water Snake next to green grass
The Northern Water Snake is one of the most striking water snakes.

They get their name from the fact that they spend most of their time around rivers and other water sources. They also make up several of the black snakes in Georgia.

Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of this genus:

Scientific Name:

Genus: Nerodia

Species:

Brown Watersnake

Nerodia taxispilota

Banded Watersnake

Nerodia fasciata

Common Watersnake

Nerodia sipedon

Florida Green Watersnake

Nerodia floridana

Plain-bellied Watersnake

Nerodia erythrogaster

Range:

This genus is well represented in the state. One or another of the species occurs in every part of the state.

Adult Size:

Around 30-70 inches

Description:

Medium to large snakes with glossy scales.

Colors range from light gray to brown and green.

They have large eyes with round pupils and sharp beak-like faces.

Habitat:

Anywhere near water sources.

They prefer marshes, wetlands, and meadows near rivers.

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-Venomous

Water snake curled up on reeds
Water snakes often make themselves at home in waterside vegetation.
Water snake crawling on the ground
Some species of water snake look significantly different from other types.

Rat Snakes in Georgia

A corn snake raising itself off the ground
The corn snake is a common pet snake species that lives in the Georgian wilds.

Scientific Name:

Genus: Pantherophis

Species:

Eastern Ratsnake

Pantherophis alleghaniensis

Corn Snake

Pantherophis guttatus

Gray Ratsnake

Pantherophis spiloides

Range:

One or another of the species occurs in every part of Georgia

Adult Size:

Up to six feet

Description:

Highly variable coloration ranging from brown with blotches in corn snakes to gray or black in the rat snakes.

Elongated, predatory-looking face with round pupils.

Habitat:

Most habitats, including residential areas

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

The rat snakes are common and harmless, generalists who feed mainly on small rodents. These animals are common, even in suburban areas, and often make their way into houses.

The corn snake is a popular pet species of rat snake in Georgia, and some people keep other rat snakes as well.

Hognose Snakes in Georgia

A Hognose Snake with its tongue out
Hognose snakes have a frightening threat display, but they’re completely harmless.

Scientific Name:

Genus: Heterodon

Species:

Eastern Hognose Snakes

Heterodon platirhinos

Southern Hognose Snakes

Heterodon simus

Range:

Throughout Georgia

Adult Size:

Up to 47 inches

Description:

Both Western and Eastern Hognose snakes have distinctive broad heads which they flatten when angry.

While this may give them a similar appearance to a cobra, they’re entirely harmless.

A bulky tan or brown-colored body with brown or black blotches.

Elliptical pupils.

Habitat:

Grassland, marshland, and forested areas.

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

The Eastern Hognose snake is a fairly convincing mimic of the venomous pit vipers, as is the Southern.

Eastern hognose snakes have stocky bodies and broad heads which they can flatten like an angry cobra.

However, these animals are entirely harmless. You can tell them apart from the pit vipers by their flattened necks and frog-like mouths.

They prefer moist areas, but don’t have the rattles or white mouths that mark most Georgian pit vipers.

Crowned Snakes in Georgia

Crowned snake crawling on the ground
Crowned snakes are rarely spotted thanks to their nocturnal habits.
Image credit: u/bamawildlife4321 (via Reddit.com)

Scientific Name:

Genus: Tantilla

Species:

Southeastern Crowned Snake

Tantilla coronata

Florida Crowned Snake

Tantilla relicta

Range:

Central and Northern Georgia

Adult Size:

Up to 9.6 inches

Description:

Relatively small and slender snakes which look markedly delicate.

Brown with a distinctive black “crown” on the upper surface of their heads.

Round pupils and a short, rounded head characterize these snakes.

Habitat:

Grassland, shrubland, and forest.

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

The crowned snakes are slender, fragile-looking snakes that get their names from the black blaze on top of their heads.

They’re relatively distinctive and don’t look much like any of the other snakes in the region.

Their coloration and patterning set them apart from species like the worm snake for which they might otherwise have been mistaken.

Iconic Georgia Snake Species

Georgia has some iconic snake species which you have to see if you’re in the area.

From an introduced hermit to a snake that looks like a worm. Let’s take a closer look.

Brahminy Blind Snake – Indotyphlops braminus

Scientific Name:

Indotyphlops braminus

Range:

Scattered populations in Southwest Georgia

Adult Size:

4.4 to 6.5 inches

Description:

A slender, fragile-looking snake with a bluish-gray color.

They have blunt, rounded heads and lack eyes.
The tail is slightly more pointed than the head.

Habitat:

Forests, gardens, other habitats with soft, loose soil

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

The Brahminy blind snake is one of the only introduced snake species in Georgia. It originates in India and probably made its way to the US in flower pots.

These snakes prefer soft moist soil where they can burrow easily. As their name suggests, they have no eyes and rely on scent and vibrations to find prey.

Brahminy Blind Snake on top of reddish soil
The Brahminy Blind Snake is the only common introduced species in Georgia.

Swampsnakes

A swampsnake on the ground
In many ways, the swampsnakes have a similar appearance to watersnakes.
Image credit: u/c_smithdatboi (via Reddit.com)

Scientific Name:

Genus: Liodytes

Species:

Striped Swampsnake Liodytes alleni

Black Swampsnake Liodytes pygaea

Glossy Swampsnake Liodytes rigida

Range:

South and Central Georgia

Adult Size:

Around 24 inches

Description:

Bulky, glossy snakes with oval-shaped scales.

May be black or brown, with or without vertebral stripes.

Long, slightly flattened faces with round pupils.

Habitat:

Marshes, swamps, and other habitats around water sources

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

The swampsnakes are remarkably similar to water snakes in many ways. Both species are semi-aquatic, prefer living in swamps and marshes, and feed on fish (among other things).

It’s easy to confuse the two genera, and you may have to rely on coloration and locality to get a positive ID.

Eastern Worm Snake – Carphophis amoenus

Worm snake crawling on the ground
It’s easy to see where the worm snake gets its name, considering its size and shape.
Image credit: u/justaguest12 (via Reddit.com)

Scientific Name:

Carphophis amoenus

Range:

Central and Northern Georgia

Adult Size:

Up to 13 inches

Description:

A small, fragile-looking snake. May be pinkish or brownish.

A long face ending bluntly, and with round pupils.

Habitat:

Moist woodlands and forests

Venomous/Non-Venomous:

Non-venomous

The Eastern worm snake has a distinctive shape and coloration. It’s not a large snake and has a slender body.

This snake typically has pink and purple hues, and its eyes set it apart from the worm snake. It’s also considerably longer than the worm snake.

What You Need to Know

All Georgia snakes, even the venomous ones, want you to leave them alone.

Despite what urban legends and old wives’ tales would have you believe, snakes won’t pursue you.

Snakes perceive you as only one thing: a predator. Most snake bites are the result of someone interfering with a snake.

The other bites are usually the result of someone unintentionally stepping on a snake.

An adult man and a young child walking on a hiking pathnthrough a forest
Leaf-strewn hiking paths are a tempting hiding place for venomous snake species.

There are a few things that you can learn to help keep you safe:

  • Don’t move, chase, or try to kill snakes.
  • Get to know common venomous species and their preferred habitats.
  • How to safely remove yourself if you come across a venomous snake.

The following sections will discuss the basics of cohabiting with snakes and dealing with snake bites.

Coexisting with Georgia Snakes

The key to coexisting with Georgia snakes is to learn not to be afraid of them.

You should always treat snakes with respect, and a certain level of caution. However, there’s no need to fear them.

The best way to protect yourself is to get to know the snakes in your area. By knowing about them, you can eliminate most of the fear related to snakes.

Most states have courses and seminars where you can get exposed to snakes and learn more about them.

Snake Safety 101

To keep yourself and your family safe from snake bites, you can put the following things into practice:

  1. Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots.
  2. Keep your pets on a leash at all times.
  3. Stick to well-marked and frequently used trails.
  4. Don’t leave children and pets unattended in densely planted or semi-wild areas.
  5. Don’t enter spaces beneath houses, crawlspaces, or other places snakes might live without good lighting.
  6. Don’t walk through dense vegetation and other hard-to-see terrains unless you have to. If you do, stay alert and attentive.
Dog on a leash standing next to owner on a grassy area
When walking where venomous Georgia snakes might live, ensure your pet is leashed.

About Venomous Snakes

Most snakes avoid humans by fleeing. Depending on the venomous snake in question, it may do the same.

However, only one venomous snake species in Georgia might do that. The other five species are all pit vipers.

Pit viper tightly curled up
Rattlesnakes and other pit vipers prefer camouflage to fleeing.

While pit vipers aren’t necessarily more aggressive than other snakes, you’re more likely to get bitten by one.

The reason? All snakes consider you a predator and will react as they do in the presence of a predator.

For a coral snake, the correct approach to facing predators is running away. Pit vipers, however, rely on camouflage to protect them from predators.

That’s why you’re more likely to get a bite from this type of venomous snake. Instead of moving so you can see them, they stay deadly still.

Most of the pit viper bites that aren’t the result of someone messing with a snake are the result of someone stepping on a snake.

Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is to stick to well-trodden paths and wear sturdy shoes.

Treading Carefully in Snake Habitat

The number one key to avoiding Georgia snakes is to keep to established hiking and walking paths.

If you’re going hiking in a densely vegetated area, pay careful attention to where you’re stepping.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a pair of sturdy hiking boots.

Caution sign warning about the presence of snakes
Avoiding densely vegetated areas minimizes your chances of running into wild snakes.

If You Encounter a Snake

If you encounter a snake, the best thing to do is leave it alone.

In the instance of your nearly stepping on the snake, move away slowly and leave the snake in peace.

If you find a snake in a place where it’s at risk or places someone else at risk, then call a snake-handling professional to remove it.

NEVER try to kill or move a venomous snake if you find one. It’s best to leave it to the professionals.

When to Call for Help

You should always call for help when you find a snake in a place where it needs to be moved.

In most cases, a snake poses no threat to anyone, in which case you should leave it alone.

However, you may find a snake in a place where your pets might kill it, or it poses a threat to human or animal lives.

In these situations, it’s best to contact a wildlife removal expert.

You should also call for help if a snake bites you. While not all snakes are venomous, you may be allergic to the proteins in their saliva.

It’s best to get checked out by a medical professional whenever a snake bites you.

Useful Resources

We’ve compiled a list of useful resources for dealing with snakes, and snake bites if the need arises.

Emergency Poisoning Advice:

Poison Control Center’s national hotline: 1-800-222-1222

ASPCA Poisoning Hotline: 1-888-426-4435.

Snake Relocation Services:

Free Snake Relocation Directory group on Facebook

Georgia Nuisance Wildlife Trappers

Professional snake handler moving a snake with grabber/reacher sticks
Getting a professional snake handler to remove snakes is the responsible thing to do.

Educational Resources:

Georgia Fish and Wildlife Service often shares education articles, as well as useful information about how to deal with unwanted wildlife.

You can also contact them to learn more about snakes in your area. They might be able to put you in touch with someone who runs courses about wild snakes.

iNaturalist is an excellent resource for learning about the wildlife in your area. You can also use it to get identifications of any snakes you encounter in the wild.

Altogether it’s an excellent resource for learning more about snakes and how they live in the wild. It’s also ideal for baby snake identification in Georgia.

Partners in Amphibian and Wildlife Conservation run education campaigns to help people learn the truth about snakes and amphibians.

They also teach people how to protect and conserve these fascinating animals. If you’re afraid of snakes, this resource can help you learn how harmless they truly are.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article about identifying and dealing with snakes native to Georgia. Do your best never to interfere with a snake, and you’re unlikely to get bitten.

Which Georgian snake is your favorite? Let us know in the comments. Don’t forget to check out similar content like our Wisconsin, LouisianaHawaii, South CarolinaArizona, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Alabama, MissouriGeorgiaVirginiaMichiganTennessee snake identification guides.

You might also enjoy our article about identifying Texan lizards.

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