Various types of venomous and non-venomous snakes are found in Virginia. The state provides ideal habitats for these species with multiple forests, swamps, and grasslands.
For example, there are more than 300 official swamps in the state. Such habitats provide ideal environments for snakes.
Types of Snakes in Virginia
The following species of snakes are highly common in Virginia. Only a handful of snakes are venomous in Virginia. 3 species are known to be venomous and dangerous here.
1. Timber Rattlesnake – Venomous
This venomous snake species (Crotalus horridus) is a North American native. Timber Rattlesnakes are the sole rattlesnake species in this part of the country.
The species is recognized by its size and color. Adult Timber Rattlesnakes reach a length of up to 60 inches. A gray body with black and brown crossbands characterizes the looks of the species.
Highly common in Virginia, this species is known to be venomous and dangerous. However, people can step away from Timber Rattlesnakes slowly when seeing them in nature as they often give off warning signs such as rattling before biting.
Female Timber Rattlesnakes are likelier to be encountered outside the nest as they prefer to bask in the sun more than males of the species.
2. Eastern Copperhead – Venomous
The Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) is one of the most venomous snakes living in Virginia. The species has been studied extensively, mostly for its possibly-beneficial venom when used in medicine.
Eastern Copperhead snakes have a tan color with brown markings. It grows to a size between 20 and 37 inches and it can often bite by only inserting a small amount of venom.
This type of warning bite is specific to the species. However, even this bite comes with severe reactions in humans. From nausea to swelling, reactions are diverse and always accompanied by sharp pain.
There’s a commercial antivenom given to those bitten by the Eastern Copperhead snake.
In healthcare, the snake’s venom is now extensively studied after it has been reported cancer cells stopped growing in mice that have been given the venom of the species.
Most importantly, these snakes are to be avoided as their bite can temporarily cause muscle damage making moving around impossible.
3. Northern Cottonmouth – Venomous
This snake (Agkistrodon piscivorus) is known for being almost entirely black except for its head. It grows to just about over 30 inches in size, being similar in length to the Eastern Copperhead.
Northern Cottonmouth snakes are highly venomous. They aren’t known as necessarily deadly. The venom of these snakes has serious health effects, on the other hand.
A bite from this snake can leave scars forever. In rare cases, amputation is also needed following a large amount of inserted venom.
Known to live in the swamps of Southeast Virginia, the snake has a varied diet, mainly comprised of other animals.
4. Eastern Gartersnake
The Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) prefers to live in grasslands across Virginia. This explains its olive-green body color with long white stripes.
Snakes of the genus aren’t venomous to humans, but they produce and use venom. While the venom made by the Eastern Gartersnake isn’t sufficient to impact humans, it impacts the snake’s small prey.
Eastern Gartersnakes are known for inserting a small amount of venom mixed with saliva in the prey it bites. This is a hunting technique as the venom slows down the prey.
Toads, slugs, and even worms are common prey for the species.
Highly similar and sometimes wrongly identified as Gartersnakes, Queensnakes (Regina septemvittata) are known for their dark body with off-white stripes that run from head to tail.
These snakes are semi-aquatic which means they are interested in both terrestrial and aquatic prey.
Queesnakes are highly common swamps around Virginia during the summer. Since they live long lives, they also enter a state similar to hibernation during the winter when they seek a sheltered area to hide from the cold weather.
Known as diurnal, Queensakes are also seen as ideal prey for a wide range of animals in the state. This includes raccoons and herons on the ground and hawks from above.
6. Eastern Mudsnake
The Eastern Mudsnake (Farancia abacura) is larger than other venomous species in Virginia. It grows to a length of over 50 inches and it can be identified by a mostly black dorsal side. Its underside is both red and black.
Many people think the Eastern Mudsnake is a stinging snake. However, its pointed tail is only used to prong prey as a means to identify its status.
This species is nocturnal and not that common to see around the state. It only comes out to hunt at night when it specifically looks for Siren and other large species of salamander.
7. Smooth Greensnake
The Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis) is one of the small to medium species of snakes in Virginia. It only grows to a maximum length of around 20 inches.
The snake is identified by its all-green color and smooth scales. Its coloring is slightly faded which makes it hard to spot in grassland.
Smooth Greensnakes limit their diet to small animals and insects, according to their small body.
These snakes are mostly interested in eating spiders and caterpillars. Ants are also a common insect these snakes feed on. On occasion, they will also consume snails.
Snakes of the species are known to lay multiple eggs at a time under rotten logs, rocks, and low shrubs.
They try to escape cold winter weather by finding a good shelter. This includes the burrows mammals use and even ant nests.
If they can’t find a suitable place to hide during the winter Smooth Greensnakes will nest in the same place with other snake species.
One of the biggest concerns for the future of the species is its diminishing habitat.
It often counts on the insects it finds in agricultural fields but these insects have a less common presence due to the extensive use of pesticides.
8. Southern Ring-necked Snake
The species (Diadophis punctatus) is known for its olive-green color with a yellow-orange neckband. This snake prefers to live in areas it can hide in easily, such as locations with tall grass and woodlands.
The Southern Ring-necked Snake is known for eating salamander and worms.
Snakes of the species prefer to go out and hunt these species at night as they are nocturnal species.
A growing number of these snakes are seen during the day, especially on cloudy days when they have to go out seeking the warmth of the Sun.
9. Eastern Ratsnake
This snake species (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) is also known as the Blacksnake. It grows to a length of 72 inches.
Eastern Ratsnakes are known for using constriction as a method of subduing prey. This means they can use body force to immobilize their prey such as rats.
Snakes of the genus are among those that live on farms and human-populated areas.
The Eastern Ratsnake is an arboreal species. This is why it’s often found in attics.
10. Eastern Worm Snake
The Eastern Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus amoenus) is a type of short snake that eats invertebrates. It has an amber-brown color and it barely reaches 11 inches as an adult.
These snakes are burrowers. While common in the state, they are rarely seen as they spend most of their lives underground.
Found in forests, Eastern Worm snakes are highly common in the Northern part of the state.
There are even areas where as many as 200 Eastern Worm Snakes are found per 2.5 acres.
11. Scarlet Kingsnake
Scarlet Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis elapsoides) are an agile species of snakes that can climb easily. These snakes are known for their vivid tri-colored body. Red, black, and white coloring is seen across the body of these snakes.
Further distinguished as snakes with a red head, Scarlet Kingsnakes are also known for their wide habitat. The species is found across pine woodlands as well as in suburban areas where they are drawn to swimming pools.
Scarlet Kingsnakes are nocturnal. While rarely seen by people, these types of snakes are often discovered in high moisture areas such as under rotting logs.
12. Rough Earthsnake
Rough Earthsnakes (Haldea striatula) are very common in Virginia and nearby states. This snake is known for its slender body. It reaches up to 11 inches in length.
Its grey back is distinguishable but the underside of the snake is bright yellow.
These snakes aren’t venomous and they don’t bite. While they have teeth, they don’t use them to bite people.
Rough Earthsnakes can generally be handled as they aren’t aggressive. They use different defensive techniques such as a motionless state to appear dead.
Rough Earthsnakes also release a foul smell as a last line of defense.
13. Northern Scarlet Snake
Similar to the Rough Earthsnake, the Northern Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea copei) has a tricolored body. These snakes are mostly red with black and grey lines that are seen along the body.
Unlike other species, they give birth to other snakes through eggs. The species is rather hard to see during the day even if common in the state as it prefers to live in burrows.
Soft soils around the state are preferred by the Northern Scarlet Snake. These soft grounds are ideal for their burrowing habits.
Often found in loose agricultural fields, these snakes come out of burrows to hunt small rodents and small lizards.
14. Dekay’s Brownsnake
This species (Storeria dekayi) is recognized by its brown body with a lighter brown stripe across its dorsal side from head to tail.
The species is highly specialized for eating. Its large jaws are known for having adaptations that allow it to crack eggs not to eat the shell. It eats snails from eggs as a result.
Snakes of the species are known for also eating slugs and worms found in the ground.
15. Eastern Glossy Swampsnake
Snakes of this genus (Regina rigida sinicola) are known for having an olive-like color with light off-white strips along the body.
It’s found all around North America sharing its presence with its preferred prey, crayfish.
Also known as the Crayfish snake, the Eastern Glossy Swampsnake is viviparous. This means they develop an embryo inside the body.
16. Common Ribbonsnake
This snake (Thamnophis sabrina sabrina) lives in aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats and it shares physical traits with other similar-habitat species.
It has a dark body with yellow stripes that run from head to tail.
Known to live in woodlands and around marshes, these snakes have multiple preferences when it comes to prey which includes not eating warm-bodied animals.
Common Ribbonsnakes only eat toads, frogs, fish, salamander, and similar other species.
17. Red-bellied Snake
These small snakes (Storeria occipitomaculata) get their name from their black body with a red underside. Common in almost all Eastern states, the Red-bellied Snake grows up to 10-11 inches as an adult.
It reaches adulthood within 3-4 years and it mates successfully. While found in large numbers around Virginia, the Red-bellied snake is considered endangered in other habitats.
These snakes are considered endangered in states such as Georgia.
18. Eastern Black Kingsnake
The Eastern Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra) is a mostly black species with white and yellow marks spots on the head and the underside.
These snakes grow up to 4 feet but they are generally shorter as food isn’t always abundant.
With the capacity to vibrate their tails, these snakes are often seen as venomous. While they aren’t venomous, they can resist venom bits of other snake species.
The Eastern Black Kingsnake shares its den with other venomous snake species.
Female Eastern Black Kingsnakes lay eggs in late spring and early summer. These eggs hatch in late summer. Both young and adult Eastern Black Kingsnakes have shiny bodies.
19. Northern Mole Kingsnake
The Nothern Mole Kingsnake (Lampropeltis rhombomaculata) is known to be non-venomous. However, unlike the Eastern Black Kingsnake, this species doesn’t give off warning signs and is bites people when bothered.
Adult Northern Mole Kingsnakes grow up to 42 inches. They have a very distinct color which is sometimes described as similar to rust.
Northern Mole Kingsnakes are red-brown with brown marks across the body.
The older a Northern Mole Kingsnake becomes the less visible these brown marks are. Older snakes of the species are mostly brown.
20. Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) is found in high numbers across the state. This snake species is always found in different colors and combinations of brown, black, gray, and orange.
Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes are further identified by their snout. They use their pointed snouts to dig in the ground.
This snake species is sometimes confused with cobras due to their defensive techniques. They lift their heads high making a hissing sound.
Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes aren’t very aggressive even if they act aggressively. They don’t bite people and they might head-butt some predators without biting.
This snake prefers to use other defensive techniques when it comes to perceived large predators such as humans. It plays dead in an act in which it remains motionless and where it emits a foul smell to fake its death.
21. Common Rainbow Snake
Common Rainbow Snakes (Farancia erytrogramma) get their name from their colored bodies that resemble rainbows. A combination of red and yellow lines is seen across its body together with black markings and mostly black head.
This species is mostly aquatic and as a result, not very common to see in the state as it lives in marshes. Cypress swamps are among its most preferred natural habitats.
Found in small streams alike, this snake is known for eating prey mostly found around swamps and rivers. This includes eels, frogs, and salamanders.
The best chance to see the Common Rainbow Snake live is when it lays eggs as it does this in the sand. Females lay eggs at the beginning of the summer and the eggs hatch towards the end of the summer.
22. Southeastern Crowned Snake
The Southern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata) is one of the smallest in the state. This species has an average length of 9-10 inches and it’s identified by its mostly brown body. The underside of the snake of bright yellow.
One of the largest misconceptions about the Southern Crowned Snake is that it’s a rare species.
This secretive snake species isn’t rare, it just prefers to hide whenever it seeds people.
Its preferred habitat is always among leaves and tall grass where it seeks prey such as spiders and insects.
The species is not dangerous and it doesn’t bite. Reproduction rates are low as the female might only lay 1 egg per summer.
23. Mountain Earthsnake
Mountain Earthsnakes (Virginia valeriae pulchra) is very similar to Southern Crowned Snakes in looks, habits, and size. The species also measures only a few inches and it can easily fit in the palm when picked up.
Its reduced size makes it a reduced threat to humans as it doesn’t bite people and it can be handled.
However, this species also has a secretive nature as it tends to hide under logs and live its life underground. The snake is mostly interested in underground living for feeding purposes where it seeks out earthworms.
24. Northern Black Racer
The Northern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) is one of the large species of snakes in Virginia. It grows to a maximum length of over 70 inches.
Northern Black Racers are black only dorsally. They have a white ventral side. These snakes are known to be very adaptive inhabits and prey.
Living in grasslands, the snakes are good at catching prey during the day.
A wide diet characterizes the species and it includes all types of small animals, eggs, and even moths. These snakes don’t use force to constrict prey but they swallow prey alive.
25. Eastern Milksnake
The Eastern Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) is one of the tricolored snakes in Virginia. It has a red body with black and white patterns which make it stand out.
Eastern Milksnakes are common around the Eastern part of the country but they’re also very common as pet snakes due to their rainbow-like color pattern as well as to their docile nature.
These snakes can bite, but only when provoked or roughly handled. They are largely seen as friendly to people.
26. Northern Ring-necked Snake
The Northern Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii) is one of the species that has a black body and a bright ring-shaped marking around its neck in Virginia.
A blue-black body and a yellow ring around the neck make this species stand out.
These snakes are perceived as uncommon as they prefer to hide in woodlands. However, up to a few hundred of these snakes live per hectare in their natural habitat.
Snakes of the Northern Ring-necked species eat small invertebrates such as earthworms, slugs, and woodland-specific animals such as salamanders.
The small size of the species also makes it a good target for predators such as bullfrogs and shrews.
27. Northern Watersnake
These snakes (Nerodia sipedon) are known for living in aquatic habitats. A grey and brown body distinguishes this genus that reaches up to 55 inches in length.
With an orientation towards wetlands and aquatic habitats, these snakes are known for feeding on a wide variety of fish.
They are seen through the entire Eastern part of the country and they have a special endangered status in other states outside Virginia.
Northern Watersnakes bear lives young snakes. Their breeding season beings in April and ends in June.
28. Eastern Kingsnake
The Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula) is recognized by a mostly glossy black body (sometimes brown) with at least 23 white rings that run across its body.
This species is well-adapted to multiple living habitats including woodlands.
It has a wide diet variety and good abilities to tackle venomous prey and other venomous snakes. It knows how to clamp down on the jaws of venomous prey to avoid being bitten.
This snake is often seen around abandoned farms, on sandy and loose soil, and even in swamps and high moisture areas.
Snakes of the species are known to be diurnal and they are seen across various territories commonly in the spring when they’re in their mating season.
They then enter hibernation during the winter. They find shelters under rocks but they prefer secluded warmer shelters in crevices as well as in the underground nests of various rodents.
29. Eastern Smooth Earthsnake
These snakes (Virginia valeriae) are known for their smooth scales. They have a brown-gray body or a light brown uniform color body.
Small compared to other Virginia snakes, the Eastern Smooth Earthsnakes mostly grow to 10 inches.
These snakes are primarily seen in forests where their color acts as camouflage when they move around leaves on the ground.
Snakes of the Eastern Smooth Earthsnake genus are known for their docile nature where they don’t bite people.
They use various defensive techniques such as releasing bad odors to deter predators. These snakes are also known for releasing feces in the same technique.
The family of Eastern Smooth Earthsnakes spends a lot of time underground where they consume a large selection of earthworms.
30. Plain-bellied Watersnake
This species of snake (Nerodia erythrogaster) gets its name from its off-white ventral side. It’s a terrestrial and aquatic species that are common in the state.
Plan-bellied Watersnakes are endemic to the US and highly popular across aquatic and terrestrial non-venomous species.
Known for its olive dorsal side, this species has a slight inclination towards the aquatic habitat in terms of prey.
It feeds on crayfish, frogs, and other aquatic invertebrates.
Since it’s also terrestrial, the Plain-bellied Watersnake is among the species that get a reputation for a flexible diet.
Salamanders are among its favorite terrestrial targets.
Plain-bellied Watersnakes can bite people. it’s best to exercise caution in their presence. Ambushing techniques are practiced by these snakes.
Snakes of the species have been shown to sit submerged waiting for prey to come within its reach.
31. Red Cornsnake
The Red Cornsnake (Pantherophis guttatus) is one of the species that’s confused with Copperheads given it has a red and orange body. However, the Red Corsnake isn’t venomous.
This species has been recorded for hundreds of years and its habitat is what influences its name. Often found around granaries, these snakes are there to hunt rodents which are most of their diet.
Thermoregulation and very good abilities to navigate their surroundings best describe the stand-out characteristics of Red Corsnakes.
Snakes of the species can regulate their body to be warmer than the outdoor temperature. This coincides with the warm periods of the year when it eats meat.
These snakes have also very good tree-climbing abilities.
It’s believed they mainly climb trees to reach bird nests where they eat the eggs even if there are data to suggest they also take advantage of better visibility from above for improved orientation.
These snakes are also known to live long. They can live more than 10 years and up to 30 years in captivity.
32. Northern Rough Greensnake
Seen on trees in woodlands, the Northern Rough Greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus) is another common species without a special conservation status due to its commonality.
This snake is known for its green dorsal color with yellow ventral coloring. It grows to 40 inches and it’s known for being a very slender figure.
Seen in grasslands and woodlands, this species mainly feeds on arthropods. Given its small size, it’s also seen as prey for other larger snakes.
Northern Rough Greensnakes are known to swallow prey without constriction.
These snakes breed twice per year, once in the spring and again in the fall.
Female snakes of the species lay anywhere between 2 and 75 eggs at a time.
Hatchlings are very similar in size to adults as they emerge at a length of at least 7 inches.
33. Brown Watersnake
Brown Watersnakes (Nerodia taxispilota) are semiaquatic snakes of brown and gray coloring. These snakes are larger than the average species in Virginia as they grow to a size between 30 and 60 inches.
Snakes of this genus are known as excellent swimmers and even if they can move along the ground they are rarely seen at a great distance from flowing water such as streams, rivers, and freshwater canals.
They have adapted to an aquatic environment where they eat fish. They prefer locations with dense vegetation above the water which they climb and use as a waiting ground for their preferred prey to appear.
As data shows, these snakes have a smaller head than the average species in the state. Together with its coloring, this leads many people to mistake the species for Cottonheads.
While not venomous, this species is aggressive. Often poked and provoked, the Brown Watersnake will react and bite people painfully.
34. Northern Pinesnake
The Northern Pinesnake (Pituophis melanoleucus) is also known as the Pinesnake. It has 3 subspecies with similar habits. The species found in Virginia is known for its powerful build as it grows up to 90 inches.
Preferred habitats for the species include woodlands, prairies, and pine-rice woodlands.
This species is mostly found in the woodlands with plenty of rats and small mammals.
Northern Pinesnakes are known to eat a wide variety of rodents and small mammals they can overpower with the large bodies.
A common practice in this species includes entering the nest of rodents and small mammals where most inhabitants are killed and eaten.
The wide body of the snake is used to press rodents against the walls of the nest which prevents them from escaping before eating as many as possible.
It’s best to avoid the Northern Pinesnake as the snake is aggressive.
While not venomous, the snake is known to give off a short hissing warning noise at first. If people don’t back up, it will attack with a painful bite.
Breeding time is a busy period for females of the species which typically lay up to 24 eggs at a time.
These eggs are deposited in sheltered areas, in burrows, or the sand. They hatch after 2 months.