Snakes of Plano, TX

Plano snake

Texas Blind Snake
Latin name: Leptotyphlops dulcis
Size: 4 to 12 inches
Venomous: No
Despite the name, the Texas blind snake isn’t blind, although it is a snake that you might encounter in the state of Texas. Commonly confused with earthworms, and even sometimes mimicking the behavior of earthworms, this snake only has a diameter of around 4 to 5 mm, and they can come in an array of colours. Usually, they are a dark pinky-brown – very much how an earthworm looks. This snake does well in environments that are slightly moist, has plenty of things to hide under, and can provide basking areas for sunny days. Arid grasslands can provide just this setting, alongside prairie grasslands, rocky hillsides, and the bottoms of canyons.

Plano snake Brown Snake
Latin name: Storeria dekayi
Size: 5 to 15 inches
Venomous: No
The brown snake, also known as DeKay’s snake, is a very common species found across the northern half of Mexico, southernmost regions of Canada, and almost all of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Small in size and adaptable in nature, there are few habitats this snake can't live in, especially as it spends a great deal of its time underground, and beneath the structures on top of it. Despite the brown-themed name, this snake can actually be a number of colours, including gray, black, and almost olive-green. Younger specimens can be confused with the ring-necked snake, because of a pale band around the neck that they grow out of.

Texas Brown Snake
Latin name: Storeria dekayi texana
Size: 10 to 19 inches
Venomous: No
Texas brown snakes are one of many subspecies of brown snake found across North America, often found in high-moisture forests and woodlands. Homeowners can sometimes unearth the small snakes whilst digging around in flower beds and soft soils. They actually do gardeners a favor, by eating worms, slugs, snails, and other bugs that would otherwise wreak havoc on growing plants. Slightly different in coloring to its other brown snake cousins, the Texas variety can be shades of orange, red, and gray alongside brown, and they have larger, darker eye-circles, too. Brown snakes give birth to live young. The Texas brown snake tends to give birth in August and September, with between 3 and 15 newborns. These barely reach 4 inches in length.

Eastern Coachwhip
Latin name: Coluber flagellum flagellum
Size: 42 to 60 inches
Venomous: No
This particular species of snake does well in Texas, with its preferred habitats being open, arid terrain, such as scrublands, prairies, desert regions, and grasslands. Occasionally, you may find an eastern coachwhip in swamp-like spaces and creek valleys. As well as being one of the largest snake species, with some specimens growing to over 100 inches in length, colourings and markings can vary greatly between the different coachwhip subspecies. Usually, a dark, almost black head fades into a slightly lighter colored body. The underside of the snake is a pink or red shade, and the eastern subspecies is usually a lighter shade the further south it is.

Broad-Banded Copperhead
Latin name: Agkistrodon contortrix laticinctus
Size: 25 to 40 inches
Venomous: Yes
The copperhead is fairly easy to distinguish, with a copper-colored head, and broad bands decorating the body. The bands are usually the same kind of reddish-brown tone as the head, with the rest of the back a caramel, tan, or brown shade. The snake tends to grow into its color; juveniles are a lot lighter, and some of them have tails that almost appear to be a green color. This snake is more commonly found in woodlands and other places where there is a lot of low-growing vegetation and loose leaf/plant litter. Fallen logs and branches also make great hiding spots for snakes like this one.

Northern Copperhead
Latin name: Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen
Size: 25 to 40 inches
Venomous: Yes
There are a few different species of copperhead found in Texas, with the northern copperhead being just one of them. This snake is also known by a string of other names, including harlequin snake, chunk head, copper adder, rattlesnake pilot, and hazel head snake. The pattern of the northern copperhead mimics that of an hourglass shape, with darker rust-red or browns across a lighter, caramel-brown coloured body. The lighter patches between the darker bands often have small, darker spots in them, too. Although venomous, this snake could almost be described as lazy. Bites are rare, and rarely fatal.

Southern Copperhead
Latin name: Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix
Size: 20 to 28 inches
Venomous: Yes
The southern copperhead is a venomous snake, but fatalities are rare. The snake’s fangs are too short a length to be able to penetrate or inject too far into human skin, and the dosage of venom given is quite low. Bites tend to happen as a result of the human startling the snake, or trying to handle the snake. Forest walkers, for example, are urged to watch their step in case this species is slithering around. The southern copperhead is a diurnal snake for most of the year, but hot temperatures force the reptile to become more nocturnal.

Trans-Pecos Copperhead
Latin name: Agkistrodon contortrix pictigaster
Size: 20 to 36 inches
Venomous: Yes
Also known as the western copperhead, the Trans-Pecos copperhead is one of a few subspecies of copperhead found in the state of Texas. This one is very close in colouration and marking to the broad-banded copperhead: wide cross-bands in a dark brown or black color decorating a body of light brown. These shades can change depending on the areas it inhabits, however — rust-red, rich browns, and even gray tones are commonly reported. One of the ways to tell a Trans-Pecos copperhead apart from its broad-banded cousin is in the underbelly. With this species, there is often a bold pattern of elaborate shapes. In other species, this is either faded, non-existent, or in random patches.

Plano snake Western Cottonmouth
Latin name: Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma
Size: 30 to 45 inches
Venomous: Yes
The western cottonmouth is quite a foreboding looking snake, mostly solid black and with a thick body. Around the face area you may see tan or brown shading, still dark, but when the snake opens its mouth, you’ll be able to see how it got its name. The inside of the cottonmouth’s mouth is a very pale, almost white colour - looking almost like cotton inside the mouth. The cottonmouth snake is commonly referred to as the water moccasin, which gives you an idea of where it likes to spend its time: in moist environments, such as sloughs, rivers, lakes, salt marshes, rice fields, and lowland swamps. They are perfectly capable of living in non-moist habitats, however, so it’s not unusual to see them quite far from a body of water.

Rough Earth Snake
Latin name: Haldea striatula (Formerly known as Virginia striatula)
Size: 7 to 10 inches
Venomous: No
The rough earth snake, also known as the little brown snake, little striped snake, or striped viper, is commonly confused with the brown snake — but the earth snake is usually smaller and has fewer markings along the body. The number one food item on the diet for this snake is earthworms, although it will feast on slugs and snails, insects, larvae, and other bugs when worms aren't readily available. It has learned to survive in areas with large human populations, such as in back gardens and public parks, being a very secretive and shy snake that spends almost all of its time trying to hide underneath rock or wood piles alongside other structures.

Kansas Glossy Snake
Latin name: Arizona elegans elegans
Size: 30 to 50 inches
Venomous: No
As the name suggests, the Kansas glossy snake is a subspecies of glossy snake common found in Kansas, but it has branched out into California in one direction, and Texas in another. It'll be in the most northern areas that you are likely to encounter this species, although it is a nocturnal one. The colourations of the Kansas glossy snake can vary widely, designed to fit in with the landscape behind it. Colourations can vary from tan to dark brown, almost rust-red, and even gray, with patterns that closely resemble smooth spots rather than rough-edged blotches.

Painted Desert Glossy Snake
Latin name: Arizona elegans philipi
Size: 20 to 35 inches
Venomous: No
Found in the very western tip of the state of Texas is the painted desert glossy snake, where it often interbreeds with other subspecies of glossy snake, including the Texas glossy snake. Once two species have started to breed in this way, their own characteristic markings get muddled together, so it's often difficult to know which of the subspecies you may have spotted. The painted desert glossy snake can be told apart from other glossy snake subspecies by the number of blotches of darker color that run down the length of its back. There are 60 blotches with this species; more so than with others.

Smooth Green Snake
Latin name: Opheodrys vernalis
Size: 14 to 20 inches
Venomous: No
There is said to be a small, isolated population of smooth green snakes in Texas; a snake that is just as green and smooth as the name would lead you to believe. As juveniles, this species can actually be quite the range of colours, including blue and olive, but it usually grows into the bright green shade by the time it sheds its skin for the first time. This small and slender snake eats mostly insects, including slugs, snails, worms, spiders, caterpillars, moths, and ants, which it kills and eats whole rather than constricting.

Plano snake Eastern Hog-Nosed Snake
Latin name: Heterodon platirhinos
Size: 15 to 42 inches
Venomous: No (Yes, but it doesn't affect humans)
Hog-nosed snakes look quite intimidating, but they aren’t quick to bite and have an array of defensive mechanisms to call upon before it does strike. As well as inflating the head and body in the same way as an adder would, this snake can also play dead, and slither away at speed. Its behavior and range of colourations mean that the eastern hog-nosed snake is often confused with a number of others, including adders and water moccasins, and has also given the snake a number of other ‘nicknames’, including black blowing viper, deaf adder, spread-head moccasin, and many more besides.

Texas Indigo Snake
Latin name: Drymarchon corais
Size: 40 to 100 inches
Venomous: No
The Texas indigo snake is a subspecies of indigo snake that is only found in southern Texas and Mexico, and is just as the name suggests: almost entirely an indigo-black shade. It stands out against the pale pink, almost salmon-colored shade of the underbelly, and the snake shimmers in the sunlight with an iridescent finish. This particular snake likes to take over the burrows that have been left by other animals, which is why it is so important to fill burrows once you eliminate the initial pest animal. Aside from that, sand dunes along the coast are preferred, as well as grasslands close to bodies of water.

Mole King Snake
Latin name: Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata
Size: 30 to 40 inches
Venomous: No
You may spot the mole king snake crossing roads at night, but there’s a much higher chance that you won’t spot this non-venomous snake at all. It’s a fossorial species, so it spends most of its time underground; and it’s also a shy and secretive species, much preferring to flee than fight. The body of the snake can be gray or a light brown colour and is usually patterned with orange-red-brown, uneven patches. Because of these markings, it can be easily confused with other snakes that live in the same habitats, which include milk snakes and copperheads.

Prairie King Snake
Latin name: Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster
Size: 30 to 40 inches
Venomous: No
The prairie king snake is also known by a few other names, including the yellow-bellied king snake, and it is a shy snake, easily camouflaged in the open grasslands they inhabit with the brown, red-brown, gray blotching over a paler gray-tan shade. There are many subspecies of prairie king snake in North America, but only one is believed to inhabit Texas — the nominate subspecies. There are a few scattered populations in the southern part of the state, but, for the most part, it is in the eastern part of Texas that this snake lives.

Plano snake Louisiana Milk Snake
Latin name: Lampropeltis triangulum amaura
Size: 16 to 24 inches
Venomous: No
Texas is home to as many as four snakes that mimic the venomous markings of the coral snake, just like this one — the Louisiana milk snake, found mostly towards the south and southeastern counties. Sandy substrates and moist environments are perfect for this subspecies of milk snake, and they spend most of the day burrowing away under the ground, or hiding beneath boulders or logs. At night, they become more active, moving around in search of prey. Generally known to be non-aggressive, it is not uncommon for milk snakes to snap in a defensive action when they feel threatened.

Texas Night Snake
Latin name: Hypsiglena jani texana
Size: 10 to 16 inches
Venomous: No (Yes, but it doesn't affect humans)
With a light brown or tan shade, a lighter and un-patterned underbelly, and darker patches or spots that run down its back, the Texas night snake could easily be mistaken for a number of other snakes. Also known as the Chihuahuan night snake, it is mostly active at night (as you might expect from the name), and inhabits environments that are partially arid, with soil that is partially rocky, in the western half of Texas. The Texas night snake eats mostly lizards, but if they happen to come across a small snake that they can overpower, they will eat that, alongside bugs and insects that have soft bodies.

Louisiana Pine Snake
Latin name: Pituophis ruthveni
Size: 45 - 70 inches
Venomous: No
The Louisiana pine snake is thought to be a very rare snake across North America, mostly because of the degradation of pinewood forests. A large and very heavy-bodied snake that often mimics the colourations of other snakes, such as rattlesnakes (and also mimics the shaking tail, too), males are usually larger than their female counterparts, both of which can reach lengths of more than 6 meters in ideal conditions. The Louisiana subspecies of pine snake has quite unusual markings — the pattern towards the head is often very different from the pattern towards the tail-end of the body. The main body of the snake is almost always beige, light tan, or gray, with larger, uneven spots of darker color that run in the contrasting patterns.

Buttermilk Racer
Latin name: Coluber constrictor anthicus
Size: Up to 60 inches
Venomous: No
It is in the eastern part of Texas that you may encounter the buttermilk racer, one of a few different subspecies of racer snakes found in the state. This particular subspecies is known by a host of other names, including ash snake, spotted racer, spotted black snake, Louisiana black snake, and variegated racer — all given because of the intricate markings along the body. The small diamonds of grey, green, yellow, black, and occasionally blue give it a very unique and outstanding look. Although not a venomous snake, it is an aggressive, quite-to-bite, fast-moving one, and it is known to throw its body around when it feels threatened or attacked, often leading to self-injury.

Eastern Yellow-Bellied Racer
Latin name: Coluber constrictor flaviventris
Size: Up to 60 inches
Venomous: No
Fast-moving and quick-to-bite, the eastern yellowbelly racer might be a long and thin snake, but it sure packs some attitude behind it. They’re not the right kind of snake species to be kept in a vivarium, and they don't fare well in areas with high human activity. All racer snakes change their diet as they age, with younger specimens choosing smaller prey, such as small snakes and lizards, reptile eggs, frogs and small toads, and insects. The older they get, the bigger they grow, and the bigger the prey they take on. Adults can eat slightly larger snakes, turtles, rabbits and other mammals, rodents, and others.

Mexican Racer
Latin name: Coluber constrictor oaxaca
Size: 20 to 40 inches
Venomous: No
Although the name would imply that the Mexican racer most inhabits Mexico (which it does), the main range of this snake species is actually in Texas — southern Texas to be exact. You will also find the eastern yellow-bellied racer in Texas, so the two species are known to interbreed with one another, making distinguishing between the two rather difficult. The Mexican racer is more green in color than other subspecies, but can also be any combination of green-grey-olive. The underbelly of the reptile is pale, often cream or white with a yellow tinge to it.

Tan Racer
Latin name: Coluber constrictor etheridgei
Size: 30 to 60 inches
Venomous: No
Much of the behavioral traits of the tan racer are the same as other species and subspecies: quick-to-bite, fast movers, inhabiting pine flat-woods, open prairies, and grasslands. The tan racer, just as the name would imply, is more of a tan shade than other racer specimens, mostly one color, although younger snakes can have markings that fade as they mature. Much like other snakes, the underbelly of the tan racer is a paler color than the rest of its body, and can sometimes have patches or spots that appear yellow-tinged.

Black Rat Snake
Latin name: Pantherophis obsoletus
Size: Up to 70 inches
Venomous: No
In eastern Texas, you may encounter the black rat snake, a snake also commonly called the black snake, or pilot black snake. To make things slightly more confusing, the black rat snake also has a “Texas rat snake” color variant, which is more shades of brown and rust-red than black. Being very skilled climbers (and skilled swimmers), you will commonly encounter the black rat snake in woodland areas, but is quite an adaptable reptile and can also thrive well in flatlands, farmlands, and rocky hillsides, among other places.

Black-Tailed Rattlesnake
Latin name: Croatalus molossus
Size: Up to 50 inches
Venomous: Yes
The black-tailed rattlesnake inhabits many regions of Texas apart from the far east of the state, as well as the northernmost section of the panhandle. It is often mixed up with other subspecies of rattlesnake, including the Mohave rattlesnake, the timber rattlesnake, and the Mexican west coast rattlesnake. The thing that sets this species/subspecies apart from the rest is the black tail (giving it its name), that doesn’t have lighter bands. There is some debate as to how big this rattlesnake can grow. It is known that males grow longer than females post sexual maturity, with the largest specimen reportedly growing to more than 80 inches (7 feet) in length.

Timber Rattlesnake
Latin name: Crotalus horridus
Size: 36 to 40 inches
Venomous: Yes
The timber rattlesnake, also known as the canebrake rattlesnake, is a threatened species in the state of Texas, and typical of rattlesnakes — a thin neck with a much broader, wider head. As far as venomous snakes go, the timber rattlesnake is the third largest species found in the entire USA, and the second largest in the state. In short, it's not a snake you'll want to mess with. In all honesty, this snake would much rather slither away than fight a large predator such as a human. It is known to act slowly when it comes to defending itself in a bid to avoid the conflict entirely; and if one sees or senses you coming, there's a pretty good chance it'll either freeze in the hope you won't spot it, or it'll hide underneath debris, in vegetation, or under rocks or logs.

Western Pygmy Rattlesnake
Latin name: Sistrurus miliarius streckeri
Size: 16 to 24 inches
Venomous: Yes
The western pygmy rattlesnake is one of three subspecies of this snake, and the only one found in the state of Texas. A venomous rattlesnake that uses its tail as bait for prey as much as a warning sign for predators, they are considered to be quite rare. Being a small snake, and a well-camouflaged one at that, they are known to keep as still as possible on first sighting of a human, before then using its tail as a defense mechanism after that. With its light gray and spotted coloring, it is easily disguised in loose leaf litter and other debris you'd find on woodland and wet prairie ground.

Florida Red-Bellied Snake
Latin name: Storeria occipitomaculata obscura
Size: 8 to 10 inches
Venomous: No
Found in wetlands such as swamps, marshes, ponds, bogs, and surrounding pine-lands, the Florida red-bellied snake is a small species, barely reaching ten inches in length, with a bright red belly that gives it the name. Often confused with the ring-necked snake because of a band of color that runs between the head and body, you can tell them apart by looking for a sometimes-faint stripe that runs down the length of the body in the red-bellied species. The ring-necked snake doesn’t have that.

Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake
Latin name: Thamnophis sauritus orarius
Size: 18 to 20 inches
Venomous: No (Yes, but it doesn't affect humans)
With very visible stripes that are brightly colored and run down the length of the body, it's not hard to understand why this snake is called the ribbon snake, although it is commonly mixed up with another striped species: the garter snake. Thin, semi-aquatic, and with very mild venom that seldom affects humans, the Gulf Coast ribbon snake is found, as you might have guessed, along the Gulf Coast, in or around bodies of freshwater. This includes streams, pounds, and also lakes. The bulk of their diet is found in the water — small fish, frogs, tadpoles, toads, other small reptiles, and occasionally, when on land, earthworms.

Red-Striped Ribbon Snake
Latin name: Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus
Size: 20 to 35 inches
Venomous: No (Yes, but it doesn't affect humans)
The red-striped ribbon snake is now only found in western Texas, around the Edwards Plateau area. A good swimmer that relies on water to get away from predators and mostly eats cricket frogs (but will also eat other frogs and toads, as well as lizards, insects, and other amphibians infrequently), the red stripes that run down the length of the body give it its name. You may also spot what appears to be a single white spot on the top of the snake's head, too. This is actually two spots, very closely joined together.

Mississippi Ringneck Snake (Regal Ring-Necked Snake)
Latin name: Diadophis punctatus regalis
Size: 8 to 35 inches
Venomous: No (Yes, but it doesn't affect humans)
This particular subspecies of ring-necked snake is more commonly found in California, but the range has been extended into as far as central Texas, where it joins others. It is the largest of the subspecies, and quite unlike most other snakes, this one doesn’t mind living up in the mountains. It prefers moist environments, such as woodlands, forests, and grasslands, but is just as equipped to inhabit desert regions, rocky hillsides, and much higher elevations. Common food sources for this species include insects, slugs, snails, and worms, but it prefers lizards and other, smaller snakes.

Northern Scarlet Snake
Latin name: Cemophora coccinea copei
Size: 14 to 20 inches
Venomous: No
You would be forgiven for thinking the northern scarlet snake, and scarlet snakes in general, are a venomous species, with bright red or orange blotches of color marking all the way down the body. It is not a venomous species, however; and it isn’t known for being an aggressive one, either. Although we definitely don't recommend it, many people have reported picking up wild northern scarlet snakes, in the wild, without bites. It is in eastern areas of Texas that this snake inhabits — developed agricultural land, areas of soft soils and sand, or light forested (pine) areas.

Broad-Banded Water Snake
Latin name: Nerodia fasciata confluens
Size: 22 to 36 inches
Venomous: No
You may come across this subspecies of southern water snake — the broad-banded water snake — in, just as the name implies, water bodies in Texas. This includes swamps, lakes, river sloughs, streams, and more. They find the bulk of their prey here — catfish, mostly, but also crayfish, frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and other species of fish. On land, they’ll also eat birds and their eggs, as well as occasional small mammals. This snake is quite something to look at, often with a dark black/brown color that is separated with bands of grey-yellow or creamy-yellow.

Green Water Snake
Latin name: Nerodia cyclopion
Size: 30 to 55 inches
Venomous: No
As the name might imply, this snake is both green (or green-brown), and a water snake, spending the majority of its time in swamps, bogs, marshes and other similar bodies of water. It finds plenty of fish, frogs, and salamanders in these bodies of water, and the vegetation offers protection from predators, of which this species has quite a few. As well as humans incorrectly believing the snake is a venomous one (cottonmouths), hawks, alligators, and other snakes, particularly king snakes, all prey on water snakes.

Diamondback Water Snake
Latin name: Nerodia rhombifer
Size: 30 to 50 inches
Venomous: No
Just like the diamondback rattlesnake, the diamondback water snake has a series of diamond-shaped (roughly) patches, usually dark brown or black in color, that covers the top of the body. This pattern can be on top of scales that are almost black, brown, or green in color. This snake appreciates slow-moving bodies of water, including swamps and marshes, rivers, streams, and ponds where it is preyed upon by other snakes, such as king snakes, alligators, and hawks. It feeds on salamanders, frogs, and fish.

Plain-Bellied Water Snake
Latin name: Nerodia erythrogaster
Size: 24 to 40 inches
Venomous: No
As you might expect, this snake species spends most of its time in water, but it is also capable of surviving far from water, especially during the summer, when the species will travel great distances to find food. Preferred habitats include slow-moving rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, swamps, and other types of wetland. This is where they find the majority of their diet: crayfish, frogs, toads, small fish, tadpoles, newts, and salamanders. They are regularly preyed upon by hawks, large bass, and cottonmouth snakes, but humans are responsible for a lot of deaths, confusing them with the venomous cottonmouth because of the similar colouration.

Western Worm Snake
Latin name: Carphophis vermis
Size: 7 to 11 inches
Venomous: No
This snake species, as the name suggests, looks very much like a worm. The body is a pinky-brown shade, almost purple in some cases, and it spends almost all of its time burrowing around underground. That’s where the similarities stop, though; the bright pink-red underbelly gives the game away, and it also eats its namesake earthworms. It is in the northeastern region of the state that the western worm snake lives, although it is a very secretive snake. It commonly burrows and slithers around beneath ground covering when it is above ground, including loose leaves, and soft and rocky soils.