Snake In Virginia

Remember that most snakes in Virginia are not aggressive, despite the fact that they are poisonous. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to see any of the eight black snakes on our list that are found in Virginia in the wild. A snake’s principal objective is to hide from view while it hunts or unwinds.

Try to engage a professional to transfer the animal if you have a snake in your yard that has settled in an undesirable location. By killing it, a crucial apex predator is eliminated from the immediate environment. You claim ownership of this ecosystem.

In Virginia, it is really against the law to kill a snake unless it poses a threat to people or cattle. If you’re found murdering snakes, you might be subject to a $1,000 fine or six months in jail.

However, we recognize that seeing a black snake might be unsettling, particularly if it’s in your yard. We’ll go over 8 black snakes in Virginia that you could come across in this article. We’ll provide a photo of each and describe it, including if it’s poisonous or not it poses an imminent threat. Let’s start now!

Eastern Copperhead

Native to North America, the eastern copperhead is a kind of pit viper. They are one of Virginia’s three deadly snakes. A full-grown, healthy adult may usually survive them, however prompt medical attention is required.

Despite their poison, they are cautious and avoid conflict. These nonaggressive snakes will avoid meddling as much as possible by keeping to themselves.

This snake has a characteristic hourglass pattern, a pointed head, and brown crossbands, which make it easy to identify. They often hide out by themselves behind mounds of trash or rocks, and instead of biting, they have the ability to release an offensive scent from their glands. Some claim it has a cucumber-like odor.

Black Rat Snake: The Longest Snake in Virginia

The eastern rat snake is another name for the black rat snake. It is the only snake in Virginia that can reach a length of 6 feet and can grow to that length.

The ventral side of their body is black and white with a black and white check pattern. Their whole chin is white. The look of nearly every black rat snake in Virginia will be consistent, with little variation between individuals.

In the state’s southeast, there is one exception to the norm. The grey body of the black rat snake may be contrasted by four lengthy black stripes on the back.

They prefer to hang out in trees and on the ground. They may live in a range of environments.

In wooded wetlands, forested urban areas, and agricultural regions, rat snakes can be found. In ancient structures, they like hunting rats.

Black rat snakes also like to eat eggs and nesting birds. If given the chance, they will also consume an adult. They don’t have a preferred species of bird, although they seem to favor the smaller birds that they can manage.

Timber Rattlesnake

In Virginia, there are many different types of habitats where you might find the Timber Rattlesnake, also known as the Canebrake Rattlesnake. In lowland thickets, high spots near rivers and floodplains, agricultural regions, deciduous woods, and coniferous forests, keep an eye out for these poisonous snakes.

As ambush predators, these snakes wait for unwary prey to approach so they may attack. They mostly eat small animals, however they may also eat frogs, birds, and other smaller snakes. After striking and releasing their prey, timber rattlesnakes wait for their poison to take effect before consuming them.

Due to their size, strong fangs, and high venom output, these poisonous snakes might be the most hazardous species in Virginia. Fortunately, Timber Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and rarely bite. Usually, they rattle and posture plenty of warning.

In American history, the timber rattlesnake had an important role. It was a symbol of the American Revolution and was found in the original 13 colonies. The “Gadsden Flag,” a yellow flag with the words “Don’t Tread on Me” and a coiled, ready-to-strike Timber Rattlesnake in the center, was first used in 1775.

Northern Cottonmouth

Another poisonous snake found in Virginia is the northern cottonmouth. Numerous species resemble cottonmouths in appearance. They often have a black body with little to no pattern, though. Even though the snake looks harmless, it is better to avoid it if you spot one.

Despite their unfavorable reputation, northern cottonmouth snakes do not really chase after humans. They are typically nonaggressive and only bite when absolutely necessary. They won’t likely move when you go close to them, though. To warn you away, they only flatten their bodies and vibrate.

Swamps, rocky streams, and river sloughs are the homes of cottonmouths. The cottonmouth’s bite can be fatal, unlike the copperhead’s. If you’ve ever been bitten by one, seeking medical help right away might be the difference between life and death.

Northern Cottonmouth: A Venomous Snake in Virginia

Only the streams and wetlands in Virginia’s far south are home to cottonmouths. Because of the distinctive white inside of their lips that they display when frightened, they are known as cottonmouths.

Some cottonmouths are darker and appear almost totally black, while others are paler and have spots.

The majority of a cottonmouth’s body is out of the water when it is swimming. Due to its predominately aquatic habit, it is also known as a water moccasin.

They like congregating close to water bodies such rivers, streams, ponds, prairies, dunes, woodlands, and marshes. Since they are exceptionally deadly pit vipers, you should exercise extreme caution and leave the area if you believe a cottonmouth is present.

Northern Watersnake

The most prevalent species of watersnake in Virginia is this one!

The preferred habitat of northern watersnakes is still or slowly moving water, such as ponds, lakes, vernal pools, marshes, and slowly flowing rivers and streams. They are most frequently spotted in or close to the sea, sunbathing on rocks or logs.

During the day, these snakes seek in shallow water and along the shore in search of fish and amphibians to eat. While the victim is still alive, they immediately grasp it and consume it!

Northern Watersnakes dive into the water to escape when startled. They are ready to defend themselves, nevertheless, if they are caught or taken prisoner. They will flatten their body and hit the assailant after releasing a foul-smelling scent from glands near the base of their tale.

A small anticoagulant in their saliva can make bites bleed, making the damage look worse. Water snakes can withstand predators including raccoons, snapping turtles, foxes, opossums, other snakes, and birds of prey thanks to these crucial defense systems.

Eastern Worm Snake

The eastern worm snake, as its name suggests, imitates earthworms before devouring them. This species is completely non-lethal, and it lacks the jaw power to bite humans.

They are gentle ordinarily, however they will be twitchy if you pick one up and try to elude them. Due to their modest size and unassuming hue, these snakes are not very widespread or visible.

They truly only consume earthworms as their main source of food, not rodents as a snack. They are prey much more frequently, falling prey to bigger mammals like other snakes, birds, and tiny woodland animals.

Eastern Black Kingsnake in Virginia

Although this snake is predominantly black, there are some white rings on it in different places. Venomous snakes like copperheads and rattlesnakes are eaten by kingsnakes. Some refer to it as a “chain snake” because of the way the circle patterns resemble a chain-link fence.

They are constrictors that like eating lizards, birds, and rodents. They’ll also cook up turtle and bird eggs as food. Other poisonous snakes in their region can be tolerated by them.

They stay on land, and when attacked, they resemble a rattlesnake by vibrating their tail in ground debris. In doing so, it is hoped that the danger would get terrified and flee.

Plain-bellied Watersnake

Near a variety of water sources, including as rivers, floodplains, lakes, ponds, and wetlands, the Plain-bellied Watersnake may be found.

Compared to other water snake species found in Virginia, this species spends a disproportionate amount of time on land. They may be found in forests relatively far from a water supply, especially in hot, humid conditions.

They consume both aquatic and terrestrial prey, such as salamanders, frogs, crayfish, fish, and other amphibians. This species’ ability to wait patiently to ambush its victim, especially on land, is another peculiar trait. Nearly all other water snakes aggressively pursue and hunt down their prey!

They don’t hesitate to bite when trapped and exude a nasty scent. Largemouth bass, egrets, hawks, and occasionally other larger snakes consume plain-bellied water snakes.

Northern Scarlet Snake

The threatening look of the northern scarlet snake may deceive you. With bands of brilliant red to yellow, black, and cream, they have exceptionally vivid colors. These tri-colored snakes are completely safe to humans, though.

In areas of the state with mountains and dry, sandy soils, you can encounter scarlet snakes. These snakes can be found hiding behind rocks, logs, heaps of leaves, and other debris since they are terrestrial burrowers.

The snakes resemble the very deadly coral snake in appearance. The yellow bands do not contact the red bands, hence the usual rule is that they are completely safe. These adorable young reptiles can consume lizards, snakes, and frogs in addition to the eggs that other reptiles lay.

Rainbow Snake in Virginia

This iridescent snake, which may be found on the coastal plain, has stripes that span the length of its body. The majority of people are black, however some are lighter. The first line of defense for these mostly nonaggressive snakes is to freeze and release a musk.

They spend a lot of time in swamps, mud flats, streams, and marshes because they enjoy the water. You are not looking at a rainbow snake if there is no water around. They are nocturnal, therefore they are difficult to notice.

They enjoy eating tadpoles and earthworms.

Queen Snake

Queen Snakes typically live in streams and rivers with rocky bottoms because they love moving water. Due to their very porous skin, they are vulnerable to water loss due to evaporation. As you might expect, they are seldom seen far from water.

In Virginia, queen snakes are said to be less reclusive than many other snakes.

They spend the most of their time throughout the day sunbathing on rocks, hanging branches, or plants close to the water. They frequently hide down behind rocks by streams’ margins. They could be swimming if you’re lucky.

Queen Snakes are specialized predators that eat crayfish as their main prey. Their main source of food is freshly molted crayfish, which have soft bodies and are still unable to utilize their pinchers. They hunt by looking for crayfish under rocks and other submerged things.

Northern Black Racer

The slim, long bodies of the northern black racer have gorgeous, lustrous black scales. Despite being non-venomous and harmless to people, the small snakes are quite aggressive and do not like to be touched.

If predators are nearby, the black racer will, wherever possible, avoid conflict by freezing. They won’t hold back from biting, though, if they believe their lives are in danger. The snakes may slither away at amazing speeds since they are extremely quick.

The snakes consume a variety of foods, including insects, lizards, birds, rodents, and amphibians, depending on their stage of development. All around Virginia, you may find them in sandpits, meadows, and oil fields.

Northern Black Racer in Virginia

This snake has a lustrous shine and is long and skinny. Despite not being poisonous, they are aggressive, thus handling them in the wild is not advised. They are known as racers because they are swift.

They like to hang out in grasslands, sandpits, and oil fields in Virginia.

Eastern Glossy Swampsnake

Slow-moving waterways including cypress swamps, roadside ditches, ponds, lakes, marshes, streams, and rivers are where Glossy Swampsnakes live and are rarely seen leaving.

These water snakes are very covert, frequently hiding in crayfish burrows or under logs and other objects near the water. The best chance to see one might be on the roads during or right after a significant downpour.

The main food source for these nocturnal snakes is crayfish. They typically swallow their prey tail-first and don’t constrict it; instead, they use their coils to help hold it while they swallow it alive. They can eat crayfish with hard shells thanks to their tiny, chisel-shaped teeth.

Glossy Swampsnakes quickly flee into the water and sink to the bottom when startled. They might flatten out if cornered and exude a foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tail. They may hiss and pretend to strike if picked up, but they hardly ever bite.

The population condition of these water snakes in Virginia is poorly understood because of their intensely secretive character. However, because of habitat loss and degradation, as well as their reliance on aquatic habitats and crayfish, they may experience a decline.

Ring-Necked Snake (Northern & Southern)

The ring-necked snake truly lives up to its name. They come in many lovely hues, however they all have the same basic tone on the back. However, they have a neck ring that is highly distinctive and complements the belly’s undertones.

Since they are completely harmless, ring-necked snakes are widespread in both Mexico and the United States. These snakes are shy and reclusive, and they only emerge at night. Due to its small size and lack of activity during the day, you are very unlikely to encounter one.

These snakes typically consume other young snakes, salamanders, earthworms, and slugs. Although they can emerge almost anywhere, they much prefer densely forested areas and wetlands.

Eastern Garter Snake: The State Snake of Virginia

Garter snakes are mostly black, yet they do have yellow stripes along the length of their bodies. They are also the reptile that represents Virginia. They’re ubiquitous and live almost anywhere.

This snake, which is little over 2 feet long, is completely harmless. They are manageable, and even when they bite, it hardly hurts and causes any harm.

They are terrestrial and eat worms, toads, spiders, and small fish for supper.

Brown Watersnake

Light to dark brown in color, with darker brown blotches on the sides and down the middle of the back.
huge head that is separate from the neck and a thick body.

Water-pilot, False Moccasin, Great Watersnake, Pied Watersnake, Southern Watersnake, and Water Rattle are some of its other names.

Brown Watersnakes can be spotted close to a variety of bodies of permanent water, such as rivers, cypress groves, swamps, lakes, ponds, and canals.

They are rarely observed far from the edge of the ocean. Since these features give the water snakes someplace to sunbathe, search for them in regions with overhanging plants, emergent snags, and rocky banks.

In contrast to the majority of snakes in Virginia, they mostly eat juvenile catfish.

Brown Watersnakes are skilled climbers and can be seen taking a sunbath on branches 20 feet above the lake. If startled, they will immediately dive under the water’s surface to escape. Accidental falls into approaching boats have happened to them.

This species is not regarded as endangered because it is rather widespread across its range. But in some states, it is protected. Similar to other watersnakes, it is threatened by habitat loss and degradation as well as needless killing by people who mistake them for poisonous cottonmouths.


You can see that Virginia has a variety of fascinating snake species. Even if you live in this state your entire life, you might not see half of the snakes on this list. Most snakes have excellent concealment and can be found in locations where people never look.

Which one of these amazing reptiles did you find the most fascinating?