18 Gray Snakes You May See (Some Species Are Venomous)

Gray snakes may be purely gray or partially gray. They can also be gray only as juveniles or only as adults.

There are many types of gray snakes in The United States alone. Snakes of this color are seen next to the coast or at elevations of almost 8.000 feet.

Many gray snakes are also seen in deserts, particularly when crossing roads at night or when chasing prey.

They can live next to water or even in disturbed land in urban areas.

Snakes of this color may also come in many different other colors, which makes identification a bit more difficult.

Some of the most widespread gray snakes are rattlesnakes. Venomous and dangerous, their bites require immediate medical attention.

Some gray snakes may also show highly distinctive traits such as blotches or a combination of stripes or dots which makes them stand out.

Here are some of the most common venomous and nonvenomous gray snakes that can be found in North America.

1. Gray Ratsnake

Gray Ratsnake

Scientific name: Pantherophis spiloides

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: bright gray, dark gray

A snake that grows to a length between 3 and 5 feet, The Gray Ratsnake has a gray-dominant dorsum but also comes in black and brown morphs in the Northern and Southern parts of its range.

Gray Ratsnakes begin their lives as gray juveniles with dark bands. This is a color pattern that can be seen on some Gray Ratsnakes while others may darken and even get to an almost black color.

Light gray with black bands is the main nuance of the species across multiple types of habitats such as prairies.

A species found in different forests on the Eastern sides of North America, Gray Ratsnakes are climbers.

They are among the few snakes which may even climb homes, often nesting in remote areas of the house such as attics.

Areas with trees and man-made structures are among their preferred habitats as climbers. These are also areas where rodents live as they like to share their environment with humans.

2. Dekay’s Brownsnake

Dekay’s Brownsnake

Scientific name: Storeria dekayi

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: bright gray, dark gray, gray-brown

Gray to brown nuances are specific to Dekay’s Brownsnake.

Its gray morph comes with small brown specks arranged in a couple of rows along its dorsum.

A mid-dorsal brighter stripe is also highly characteristic of this species, particularly in its brown morphs.

A North American native, Dekay’s Brownsnakes are found in different Eastern habitats.

Prairies and farmland are among the common sights of Dekay’s Brownsnales. However, this species prefers to live in urban and suburban areas.

It can be found on disturbed land close to human settlements.

Specialized in slugs and snails, this snake is one of the most common sights in urban areas across Eastern US and Eastern Mexico.

Most sights occur during the summer as the snake retreats to overwinter. It chooses rodent burrows to hide in during the coolest months before emerging back in the spring.

3. Great Plains Ratsnake

Great Plains Ratsnake

Scientific name: Pantherophis emoryi

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: bright gray, dark gray

Various shades of gray are the main nuance of The Great Plains Ratsnake. This is a species that grows to a length of at least 3 feet and which comes in different colors.

Light gray and dark gray base colors are often paired with dark brown blotches along its body from head to tail.

Gray blotches are also seen on some Great Plains Ratsnakes, typically of a darker nuance.

As its name implies, open plains are its habitat. It also lives on forest floors with occasional populations along mountainous regions.

4. Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake

Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake. Image by Don Haven via inaturalist

Scientific name: Crotalus pyrrhus

Venomous: Yes

Gray nuance: bright gray, dark gray

A gray morph Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake is a common sight in the Southwestern parts of The United States.

This is a species that also comes in other colors such as brown and bright colors such as pink.

Its gray morph is contrasted by darker patches, spots, or bands across its dorsum.

This snake has a ringed tail tip, specific to rattlesnakes. It has a venomous profile being one of the most dangerous species in North America.

Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnakes may sometimes be seen resting in the sun during the day but they are a nocturnal species.

5. Chihuahuan Nightsnake

Texas Nightsnake (Hypsiglena jani texana) (a sub species of Chihuahuan Nightsnake)

Scientific name: Hypsiglena jani

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: bright gray

This small snake of The South is mildly venomous and highly variable in coloring.

Its base color can be either gray or bright brown. Its dorsal patterns may have a similar gray or brown color while its head is typically darker as well, matching the color of the dorsal scales.

A nocturnal species, the snake prefers arid climates and even rocky areas in these climates.

It’s here that this mildly-venomous species finds prey such as desert lizards to feed on at night.

While it feeds on various reptiles, The Chihuahuan Nightsnake grows to a maximum length of 20 inches.

6. Western Massasauga

Western Massasauga

Scientific name: Sistrurus tergeminus

Venomous: Yes

Gray nuance: bright gray

A highly venomous snake, The Western Massasauga is a species living in areas with grass, mainly along woodlands.

It has a bright gray base color with dark gray or gray-green blotches.

Some Western Massasaugas have a gray-brown base color.

Found in open areas, these snakes are nocturnal, preferring to look for lizards, frogs, and other snakes to feed on at night.

Western Massasaugas are burrowing species that repurpose the burrows of other animals.

The venom of this species causes pain and even necrosis in the area of the bite. If treated, the venom isn’t dangerous but may be fatal to humans without medical attention.

7. Rock Rattlesnake

Rock Rattlesnake

Scientific name: Crotalus Lepidus

Venomous: Yes

Gray nuance: bright gray

Bright gray color with dark gray bands is specific to Rock Rattlesnakes.

This species also has pale bands across its body looking like an almost white snake species.

The colors of the species are influenced by its rocky habitat where they act to increase its camouflaging abilities.

Growing to a maximum size of just over 30 inches, this is a species with adaptable coloring depending on its habitat.

Snakes in areas with plenty of rocks may have a paler color while those living in areas with fewer rocks have a darker nuance.

A venomous species, Rock Rattlesnakes aren’t aggressive. They remain calm and even still, relying on their camouflaging look.

8. Panamint Rattlesnake

Panamint Rattlesnake

Scientific name: Crotalus stephensi

Venomous: Yes

Gray nuance: bright gray, dark gray

Bright color with blotches and black margins is specific to The Panamint Rattlesnake.

This is a species that has a bright gray base color, a bright brown base color, or which may even have a tan base color.

Its dorsal blotches are darker, varying between gray, brown, and red nuances.

Darker gray blotches with black margins on a bright gray base color are the most common nuances on The Panamint Rattlesnake.

A type of venomous pitviper species, the snake is found in areas around Nevada and even into California.

It lives at high elevation at altitudes of anywhere up to almost 8.000 feet where it feeds on small mammals and other small prey.

9. Eastern Massasauga

Eastern Massasauga

Scientific name: Sistrurus catenatus

Venomous: Yes

Gray nuance: bright gray

Eastern Massasaugas have a gray or tan base color with dark brown blotches along their dorsum and sides.

Numerous black blotches can also be seen in rows along its dorsum and its sides. The blotches on the mid-dorsum are normally larger than those on the sides.

Some of the rare morphs of this species include Eastern Massasaugas which have joined blotches as well as all-black morphs.

Snakes of this genus eat all types of small prey including the juveniles of other species. Birds and their eggs are also eaten by the snake present throughout the Eastern parts of The United States.

10. Twin-spotted Rattlesnake

Twin-spotted Rattlesnake

Scientific name: Crotalus pricei

Venomous: Yes

Gray nuance gray-brown, bright gray

Gray and tan colors are specific to The Twin-spotted Rattlesnake. Snakes of this species have small speckles on the dorsum.

Brown blotches with dark brown or black borders are seen on its back. These blotches are small compared to the blotches of other species.

Reaching a size of up to 26 inches, Twin-spotted Rattlesnakes are a species of The Sonora with a presence in Southern Arizona.

It has a widespread distribution in Mexico where it poses a risk to humans as it has a venomous status.

Unlike other types of venomous snakes, Twin-spotted Rattlesnakes are diurnal.

11. Smooth Earthsnake

Smooth Earthsnake. Image by PJNickG via inaturalist

Scientific name: Virginia valeriae

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: dark gray

Earthsnakes often have a solid dorsal color. This is also the case for The Smooth Earthsnake, a species with variable coloring.

A gray morph is highly common for this species which is also seen in a red-brown morph. Its gray variant has a dark nuance without blotches or other patterns.

Growing to a maximum length of 10 inches, Smooth Earthsnakes are fossorial and secretive.

Their lives are spent away from human eyes, underground.

They feed on worms and other bugs that live in the ground which means they have no reason to make it up to the surface where they are vulnerable in front of predators.

The Smooth Earthsnake is one of the most common snakes in the Eastern United States despite being highly secretive.

12. Western Yellow-bellied Racer

Western Yellow-bellied Racer. Image by Max Roberts via inaturalist

Scientific name: Coluber constrictor mormon

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: dark gray, charcoal gray

Highly variable in its appearance, The Western Yellow-bellied Racer is often gray on the dorsum and yellow on the underside.

This is a species that may also be seen in a yellow-green underside.

Its juveniles almost look like snakes of another species, having a blotched appearance and not a solid color appearance as the adults.

Its juveniles have numerous dark brown spots while the dorsum of the adults is mostly uniform gray.

Gray and green dorsum morphs are also common, together with an olive-brown dorsal color morph.

Grasslands and areas next to the water are among its favorite habitats. This snake is found in Californian regions such as San Mateo County.

13. Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer

Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer. Image by Lisa via inaturalist

Scientific name: Coluber constrictor flaviventris

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: dark gray, gray-olive, bright gray

A species that may reach a length of up to 60 inches, Eastern Yellow-bellied Racers are named after their vivid yellow underside.

This is a species with a dark gray dorsum which has olive undertones. The central areas of the dorsum are darker while the sides have a brighter gray appearance.

A solid color dorsum snake, Eastern Yellow-bellied Racers don’t have any blotches or bands along the dorsum.

A diurnal species, Eastern Yellow-bellied Racers are found both in US states such as Montana and in Canada where it lives in lesser numbers.

The Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer is an active diurnal species. While not venomous, the snake may still attempt to bite as it’s known for its aggressive behavior.

14. Queensnake

Queensnake. Image by Shane via inaturalist

Scientific name: Regina septemvittata

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: olive-gray

Queensnakes have a rare olive-gray color. This is a nuance in which its dark olive color has gray undertones and forms a solid dorsal appearance without stripes and blotches.

Unlike most other snakes, Quuensnakes also have a striped ventral appearance. Yellow and dark stripes run along its belly, making this species very easy to identify.

The number of stripes is diminishing for this species as the snake matures. Juveniles are born with extra stripes while adults only have them on the ventral side.

It takes 2-3 years for these snakes to mature and become adults that can reproduce.

The female Queensnake can reproduce 2 times per year with females giving birth to living striped snakes.

A distinct trait of the female Queensnake is the capacity to delay giving birth to the juveniles if the breeding takes place later in the year.

Females go into a type of low-activity period similar to hibernation before giving birth in the spring, once temperatures start to rise.

15. Common Watersnake

Common Watersnake. Image by Josh Vandermeulen via inaturalist

Scientific name: Nerodia sipedon

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: dark gray

Gray, brown, black, and tan colors are the most common nuances of The Common Watersnake. A species that can easily reach a length of over 4 feet, Common Watersnakes live close to water.

Found in states East of The Rocky Mountains, these snakes often come in a blotched appearance. Its gray morph can have dark gray or brown blotches.

A gray morph with red-brown blotches is also spotted on the species. Its color variation is subject to the habitat it lives in.

Some of the habitats this snake is mostly seen in are areas right next to the water where it may rest in plain sight.

This is a species that goes into the water to catch fish but it may also feed on frogs and amphibians it finds in shallow water or right next to water.

16. Plain-bellied Watersnake

Plain-bellied Watersnake

Scientific name: Nerodia erythrogaster

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: dark gray, gray-green

Variable coloring is also specific to the dorsal side of Plain-bellied Watersnakes.

These are some of the most important watersnakes of North America and they show high levels of color variability.

Snakes of this family can be dark gray or gray-green dorsally. They can also be brown or olive green.

All of its dorsal nuances tend to be darker and only contrasted by a slightly yellow ventral color.

As a watersnake, Plain-bellied Watersnakes can swim.

They use their swimming skills to catch fish and may do so both during the day and at night.

Summertime marks the period when snakes of this species are truly active.

While good swimmers these snakes can also be seen as prey by the various large predatory fish of North America.

17. Pygmy Rattlesnake

Pygmy Rattlesnake

Scientific name: Sistrurus miliarius

Venomous: Yes

Gray nuance: bright gray

Bright gray base coloring is specific to the thick-bodied Pygmy Rattlesnakes.

A venomous species of The United States, Pygmy Rattlesnakes can also be brown with blotches and dorsal marks.

Its bright gray morph comes with orange and black dorsal patterns with alternative black-only blotches and marks.

Its brown morph also comes with orange and black patterns on the dorsum.

As a rattlesnake, this snake is typically heard wiggling its tail whenever approached by humans.

It can be spotted at night when it rests on warm rocks or roads.

The venomous bites of this snake might not be fatal to humans but they can cause hemorrhages.

Snakes of this genus are found in the Southern and Southeastern US states. Its range expands from East Texas to Florida.

18. Prairie Kingsnake

Prairie Kingsnake. Image by Travis W. Taggart via inaturalist

Scientific name: Lampropeltis calligaster

Venomous: No

Gray nuance: gray, dark gray

One of the common color combinations of Prairie Kingsnakes includes bright and dark gray.

A bright gray base color is combined with dark gray blotches. However, this snake also comes in other color combinations. These are all bright and dark morphs.

Faded colors are characteristic of Prairies Kingsnakes. This is a species where the gray and the brown-dominant base colors may blend in with the blotches and patterns as the color change with age.

Juveniles of the species may have a similar color combination but they have extra spots on their body and head.

A species of the Midwest and the Southeast, Prairies Kingsnakes like to live in grasslands and areas with loose soils.

They are also frequently found indoors. Homes on farms or next to crops are most likely to attract these snakes.