Identification of Nonvenomous US Snakes

Pine Snake

IDENTIFICATION OF NONVENOMOUS SNAKES OF THE UNITED STATES

To use this identification chart, you start with line 1 and match up the identification to your snake and then move on to the next number line that is indicated at the end of the sentence.

1 a. Scales on belly same size as scales on back - Blindsnake
   b. Scales on belly much wider than scales on back - 2

2 a. One or two pairs of long scales in the middle of underside of head - 4
   b. No long scales on underside of head - 3

3 a. A plate as large as eye, or larger, in middle on top of head between eyes - Rubber Boa
   b. No scale as large as eyes on top of head between eyes - Rosy Boa

4 a. A ridge running down the middle of some or all scales (look carefully) - 5
   b. All scales on back without such ridge - 20

5 a. Scales covering rear intestinal opening (cloaca) split obliquely into two scales (look carefully) - 6
   b. Scales covering cloaca not divided - 16

6 a. Scales at end of snout with a prominent ridge down the middle above - Hognose Snake
   b. No ridge running down the middle of scale at end of snout - 7

7 a. Only t6wo scales on shortest line between eye and nostril and the rear of these two not conspicuously longer than high - Brown Snake
   b. Three or more scales between eyes and nostrils, or if only two the rear one conspicuously longer than high - 8

8 a. A scale in the middle of the head just back of scale at tip of snout - 9
   b. Two scales just back of snout scale, in contact with each other at about the middle of the head - 11

9 a. Five scales bordering upper lip, not counting snout scale - Conenose Snake
   b. Seven or more scales bordering upper lip, on one side - 10

10 a. Two scales along shortest line between eye and nostril, red below, all black above - Checkered Mudsnake
     b. Three scales between eye and nostril, gray and brown strip above, yellow below - Striped Swampsnake

11 a. Two scales between shortest line between eye and nostril - 12
     b. Three or more scales between eye and nostril - 13

12 a. Small, dull-colored, slate gray or pinkish, with no markings - Conenose Snake
     b. Larger, brightly stripped - Rainbow Mudsnake

13 a. Not counting the row of larger belly scales, 17 rows of scales extending down body at middle of body (half way between head and cloaca) - 14
    b. More than 17 rows of scales at the middle of the body - 15

14 a. Color above dark, with a light spot on each scale - Speckled Racer
     b. Color above greenish - Green Snake
     c. Color above black, unspotted - Black Swamp Snake

15 a. Ridge down middle of scale on back weekly developed, not easily visible - Rat Snake
     b. Ridge down middle of scales on back well developed, easily visible - Water Snake

16 a. Usually four scales in a row across top of head just in front of the three scales between the eyes; 27 or more rows of scales at middle of body - Bullsnake
     b. Two scales on top of head just in front of three scales between eyes; less than 27 rows of scales at middle of body - 17

17 a. Scales at end of snout very large, looking like a loose patch, with much of edge free - Leafnose Snake
     b. Edge of scales at end of snout even with other scales - 18

18 a. Eight or more scales along either lower lip, not counting one in middle on end of chin - Garter or Ribbon Snake
     b. Fewer than eight scales along either lower lip, not counting middle chin scale - 19

19 a. Two rows of black spots down belly - Linesnake
     b. No spots on belly - Conesnake

20 a. Scales covering rear intestinal opening (cloaca) split obliquely into two scales (look carefully) - 28
    b. Scales covering cloaca not divided - 21

21 a. Broad scale under tail split near middle in two rows - 22
     b. Scales under tail like those on belly, not divided - Longnose Snake

22 a. Pupil of eye considerably higher than wide, more or less as in a cat - 23
     b.  Pupil of eye nearly or perfectly round - 24

23 a. Scale at end of snout very large, looking like a loose patch, with much of the edge free - Leafnose Snake
    b. Edge of scales at end of snout even with other scales - Lyresnake
24 a. At least one lip scale contacting paired scales on top of snout - Shorttail Snake
     b. No lip scale contacting scale on top of snout - 25

25 a. Belly and underside of tail with at least some dark markings - 27
     b. Belly or underside of tail light colored, without markings - 26

26 a. Back with yellow, black and red markings - Scarlet Snake
     b. Back with brownish or grayish blotches - Glossy Snake

27 a. Not counting the row of large belly scales, 17 rows of scales running down body, as counted at a point half way between head and cloaca - Indigo Snake
    b. More than 17 rows of scales at middle of body - King Snake

28 a. Nineteen or more rows of scales at middle of body  - 29
     b. Less than 19 rows of scales at middle of body - 35

29 a. Two scales along shortest line between eye and nostril - 30
     b. Three or more scales between eye and nostril - 31

30 a. Striped - Rainbow Snake
     b. Not striped - Checkered Mudsnake

31 a. Pupil of eye considerably higher than wide, more or less as in  a cat - 33
     b. Pupil of eye nearly or perfectly round - 32

32 a. 25 or more rows of scales at middle of body - Rat Snake
     b. 19 or more rows of scales at middle of body - Coffeesnake

33 a. 3 or 4 scales touching rear edge of eye between scales of lip and big scale above eye - Lyresnake
     b. 2 scales touching rear edge of eye between scales of lip and big scale above eye - 34

34 a. Pattern above of small blotches with one or two series of smaller alternating spots on sides - Nightsnake
     b. Pattern above 22 to 26 larger blotches, and without alternating spots on sides = Cateye Snake

35 a. 2 scales along shortest line between eye and nostril, excluding scale of lip and on snout above - 36
     b. 3 or more scales between eye and nostril, excluding scales on lip and on snout above - 41

36 a. Tail very long (more than half length of body); head long and sharp nose - Vinesnake
     b. Tail much shorter; head of normal length - 37
37 a. Small scale in front of eye, longer than high - 40
     b. Small scale in front of eye, not longer than high - 38

38 a. Body without markings on back of neck region - Flathead Snake
     b. Body blotched above - 39

39 a. 13 rows of scales, not counting belly row - Sandsnake
     b. 15 rows, not counting belly row - Shovelnose Snake
     c. 17 rows, not counting belly row - Hooknose Snake

40 a. Uniform black or brown above, uniform orange below - Wormsnake
     b. Grayish, often speckled above; cream or white, often speckled below - Conenose Snake

41 a. Scale at end of snout very large, looking like a loose patch, with much of edge free - Patchnose Snake
     b. Edge of scales at end of snout even with other scales - 42

42 a. 2 small scales touching front edge of eye between lip scale and big scale above eye - 43
     b. 1 scale touching front edge of eye between lip scale and big scale above eye - 46

43 a. Lower of 2 scales in front of eye small, wedged between eye and lip scale - 44
     b. Lower scale not wedged between eye and lip scale - 45

44 a. Just in front of cloaca, rows of scales on back and sides number 15 - racer
     b. Just in front of cloaca, rows of scales on back and aides number 11, 12 or 13 - Whipsnake

45 a. A light colored ring around back of neck, or black spots on belly, or both - Ringneck Snake
    b. No ring on neck, no spots on belly - Greensnake

46 a. Green or blue-green in color - Greensnake
     b. Not green or blue-green - 47

47 a. 17 rows of scales down back and sides, counted at middle of body - 48
     b. Fewer than 17 rows at mid-body - 49

48 a. Body light brown above, a dark line along sides of head - Slender Snake
     b  Body black or dark gray above, no dark lines on sides of head - Black Swampsnake

49 a. Each belly scale with a black edge - Sharptail Snake
     B. Belly uniformly light in color, or markings, if present, in forms of rings encircling body - 50
50 a. Snout normal, rounded - Groundsnake
     B. Snout flat, shovel-like - Shovelnose Snake

Gray & Yellow Rat Snake