Georgia Snakes

Snakes of Georgia

Snakes are common across Georgia, even in urban and suburban areas. As development and population growth continue in Georgia, encounters between humans and snakes will increase.

Georgia is fortunate to have among the highest biodiversity of snakes in the United States with 46 species. Snakes can be found from the mountains of northern Georgia to the barrier islands along the Atlantic coast. The rich diversity of snake species makes Georgia ideal for observing and learning about snakes.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, at least 20 percent of the U.S. population suffers some degree of snake fear. Regardless of the cause, extreme fear is unnecessary. Snakes are not under every rock or behind every tree; encounters are relatively infrequent. Typically, the more people learn about snakes, the less they fear them. By learning about species identification and distribution as well as the fascinating natural history of these reptiles, you will greatly reduce your fear of Georgia's snakes and enjoy the outdoors more.

Click here for the PDF version of a snakes fact sheet.

Want to learn more? Download the "Venomous Snakes of Georgia" brochure and "Is It a Water Moccasin?" brochures.

Also check out the Snakes of Georgia and South Carolina website, produced with The University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. This site provides information about the biology of snakes, as well as information and photographs useful for identifying the snake species of Georgia and South Carolina.

INTRODUCTION

Simply hearing the word snake sends shivers up some folk's spine. However, snakes are an important component of our ecosystem in Georgia because of their major role as both a predator and prey. Snakes are economically beneficially because they eat rats, mice, and other animals deemed to be pests. Some snakes have been used as bioindicators to assess pollutants in terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems. Unfortunately, many species of snakes are declining as a result of human activities.  Thankfully, of the 46 snake species that occur in Georgia, only two are considered legally threatened, the eastern indigo snake and the southern hognose snake.

NON-VENOMOUS SNAKES IN GEORGIA

  • Eastern Green Watersnake
  • Brown Watersnake
  • Plain-bellied Watersnake
  • Banded Watersnake
  • Northern Watersnake
  • Queen Snake
  • Striped Crayfish Snake
  • Glossy Crayfish Snake
  • Black Swamp Snake
  • Brown Snake
  • Florida Brown Snake
  • Red-bellied Snake
  • Eastern Ribbon Snake
  • Common Garter Snake
  • Smooth Earth Snake
  • Rough Earth Snake
  • Eastern Hognose Snake
  • Southern Hognose Snake
  • Ringneck Snake
  • Eastern Worm Snake
  • Pine Woods Snake
  • Mud Snake
  • Rainbow Snake
  • Black Racer
  • Coachwhip
  • Rough Green Snake
  • Corn Snake
  • Eastern Rat Snake
  • Gray Rat Snake
  • Pine Snake
  • Common Kingsnake
  • Black Kingsnake
  • Mole Kingsnake
  • Scarlet Kingsnake
  • Eastern Milk Snake
  • Scarlet Snake
  • Southeastern Crowned Snake
  • Florida Crowned Snake
  • Eastern Indigo Snake
  • Brahminy Blind Snake (non-native)

VENOMOUS SNAKES IN GEORGIA

  • Copperhead
  • Pigmy Rattlesnake
  • Timber Rattlesnake
  • Cottonmouth
  • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Eastern Coral Snake

BIOLOGY

Snakes are reptiles characterized by elongated bodies and a lack of limbs. Snakes are closely related to lizards, but do not have external ears or eyelids. The skin of snakes is dry and scaly, not slimy like some people believe. Snakes have a forked tongue used to "sample" microscopic particles from the air. The particles are transferred to the Jacobson's Organ to taste the air to figure out its surroundings. Snakes are "cold-blooded" meaning they rely on their surroundings for body heat. As a result, snakes cannot tolerate extreme temperatures. Therefore, when it is cold or extremely hot outside, snakes are relatively inactive.

LIVING WITH SNAKES

Snakes can be found in most backyards, parks, and woodlands throughout Georgia. Many species are secretive, spending most of their time underground or under cover. Active gardeners may occasionally see small ringneck, worm, red-bellied, brown, earth, and crowned snakes. None of these species are much bigger than a large earthworm and do not bite. Several larger snake species also frequent backyards, especially corn and rat snakes, as well as racers. These larger snakes will eat mice, rats, and occasionally birds and their eggs. Snakes often take refuge in piles of brush or firewood. Water snakes are occasionally found in areas bordering streams, lakes, swamps, or farm ponds. 

Occasionally, snakes searching for rodents or eggs, or a place to shed their skin, will take refuge in barns, crawl spaces underneath homes, or sometimes in a home. The best way to keep snakes from entering your home or other building is to prevent snakes and snake food (rodents) from entering your home. Closing up all possible entrance locations is a must. Next, a rodent control program should be put in place to eliminate the food attraction for snakes. 

By learning about species identification and distribution as well as the fascinating natural history of these reptiles, you will greatly reduce your fear of Georgia's snakes and enjoy the outdoors more.

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