The UGA Savannah River Ecology Laboratory Herpetology Program (http://srelherp.uga.edu) offers everything you need to know to stay safe around snakes. Make sure you visit their website for everything you’d ever want to learn about the snakes in our state and region. Here, we turn to them once again, this time for information on non-venomous snakes, starting with the WORM SNAKE, which is usually found hiding under logs, rocks or leaves. PHOTOS: All from srelherp.uga.edu. TEXT SOURCE: All from srelherp.uga.edu. INFO BY: J.D. Willson.
SCARLET SNAKE -- They’re small and skinny and yes, it’s understandable that folks might mistake them for coral snakes, which are highly venomous. You won’t see them during the day since they’re active at night. If you do see one, leave it be and remember the old rhyme -- “red-touch-black, venom-lack; red-touch-yellow, kill a fellow” -- to distinguish it from its semi-doppelganger. INFO BY: J.D. Willson.
BLACK RACER -- Found from southern Maine to Florida, black racers are active during the day, make their homes in a variety of Southeast habitats and snack on insects, birds, rodents, amphibians, etc. But if you approach one, it may attempt to strike. Usually, it will just flee. INFO BY: J.D. Willson.
EASTERN INDIGO SNAKE -- In Georgia, you’ll have to head south to find this large blue-black snake, the longest native to the U.S.. They’re active only in the daytime and they enjoy a nice buffet of varied prey -- mammals, birds and other snakes, including rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. It’s a federally-protected species and is listed as threatened in Georgia and Florida. INFO BY: Andrew M. Grosse, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson.
RAINBOW SNAKES are, like mud snakes, rarely seen outside of the swamps and other water sources in which they live. As their name suggests, these snakes are multi-colored with black, red, pink and yellow scales. In Georgia, they inhabit the Coastal Plain region. These snakes have a tendency to eat eels. INFO BY: J.D. Willson.
With the nickname “puff adder,” the EASTERN HOGNOSE SNAKE sounds dangerous and puts on quite a show when threatened, hissing and lunging as it spreads its head and neck skin like a cobra. But these non-venomous snakes, found throughout Georgia, are mostly dangerous to toads -- their favorite food. INFO BY: Anna Tarter, University of Georgia - revised by J.D. Willson.
The MOLE KINGSNAKE, though rarely seen, makes its home throughout the PIedmont region of the Southeastern U.S. While they spend most of their time out of sight, you may run across them in open areas like fields or thickets. They feast on small mammals, birds, lizards and other snakes. INFO BY: Justin Oguni, University of Georgia - revised by J.D. Willson.
If it’s daytime and it’s hot, you may come across a COACHWHIP -- unless you’re in the North Georgia mountains. These long, slender snakes love sandy soils, such as those in the Georgia Coastal Plain region, and are fast-moving. They may bite if captured, but again, they are non-venomous. Best to let these distinctive snakes be and leave them to their buffet of other snakes, rodents, birds, lizards and amphibians. INFO BY: J.D. Willson.
NORTHERN WATERSNAKES are regularly mistaken for the venomous cottonmouth (water moccasin), but these hefty watersnakes are non-venomous. While cottonmouths are generally found only in Georgia’s Coastal Plain, northern watersnakes make their home in the mountains and Piedmont regions of our state. Lakes, ponds, marshes, rivers, and streams are their habitats. INFO BY: Andy Howington, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson.
BROWN WATERSNAKES are large, hefty snakes. Because they prefer fish as prey, they’re more likely to be found in reservoirs and other areas that are permanent water sources. These watersnakes live in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of Georgia and are not found in the mountain areas. They inflict painful, but not venomous, bites if cornered. INFO BY: Stacey Vigil, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson.
Although non-venomous, PINE SNAKES are a threatened species in Georgia and are protected. They’re big, heavy-bodied burrowing snakes that will strike when approached. Pine snakes are found in Georgia’s Coastal Plain region and, being carnivores, they eat mice, rats, birds and similar small prey. INFO BY: Benjamin Morrison, University of Georgia -- edited by J.D. Willson
GLOSSY CRAYFISH SNAKES are more prevalent in Georgia’s Coastal Region than the striped crayfish snake, but are similarly water-loving and secretive. Like their striped cousins, they eat mostly crayfish and are rarely seen. They, too, are a protected species in Georgia. INFO BY: J.D. Willson, University of Georgia.
Unless you’re spending your days in boggy, highly-vegetated wetlands you’ll probably not see the BLACK SWAMP SNAKE. These small, black aquatic snakes with bright red bellies are found throughout Florida and along the southeastern US Coastal Plain from eastern North Carolina to Alabama. They eat a variety of aquatic prey -- small frogs, tadpoles, small fish -- and the species is protected in Georgia. INFO BY: J.D. Willson, Univ. of Georgia
REDBELLIED SNAKES make their home throughout the eastern US, excepting the Florida peninsula. Although related to the brown snake, redbellied snakes are creatures of the forest, generally spurning the suburbs where brown snakes thrive. Slugs are their main food. In Georgia, redbellied snakes are a protected species. -- INFO BY: Kelly Overduijn, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson
Where the Southeastern Crowned Snake is absent, the FLORIDA CROWNED SNAKE is prevalent. They’re mostly found in peninsular central Florida (hence their name) and has been found in only a few extreme south Georgia areas. Highly secretive and rarely seen, these tiny snakes live underground, preferring sandhills and longleaf pine habitats. In Georgia, this species is protected. INFO BY: Carmel Norman, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson
EASTERN RIBBON SNAKES resemble their cousins, eastern garter snakes, but are more slender and are differently striped. They’re found throughout the eastern US, excepting the Appalachian Mountains. Semiaquatic, these snakes eat small fish and amphibians, preferring habitats near lakes, bogs and salt marshes. INFO BY: Christina Baker, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson
It’s easy to see how EASTERN GARTER SNAKES and their cousins, eastern ribbon snakes, are confused. Both are distinctively striped, both prefer habitats near water and both feed on fish and amphibians. But garter snakes are less slender than ribbon snakes and are found in a wide variety of environments, including the mountainous areas that ribbon snakes spurn. In suburban areas, garter snakes are common, usually found in some sort of cover. INFO BY: Amelia Gleaton, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson
The SMOOTH EARTH SNAKE is a heavy-bodied snake with a pointed snout. More prevalent throughout the state of Georgia and the southeastern US, the smooth earth snake is, like its rough-scaled relative, absent from peninsular Florida. It exists in a variety of habitats, but prefers moist deciduous forests. Like the rough earth snake, the smooth variety eats earthworms and soft-bodied insects. INFO BY: Patia M. Connell, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson