Non-venomous snakes (non-poisonous snakes)
Brown Water Snake (Nerodia taxispilota): A large (to 4 feet), chunky, brown, patterned snake with eyes almost on top of its' head. These fish-eaters climb well, and are commonly seen basking on tree branches hanging above the Canoochee and Ogeechee Rivers. Bites only if molested, swims underwater rapidly to escape.
Banded Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata): A snake with a faint banded pattern over a dark background of black, brown, or reddish. Sometimes called "water bandits", these are very abundant snakes in this area, occurring in grassy ditches, swamps, ponds, streams, and rivers. They swim well and often dive underwater. Frogs and fish are their primary prey. These snakes are ill-tempered and bite if handled.
Mud Snake (Farancia abacura): A large (to 6 feet), smooth and shiny snake that is aquatic, living in swamps, ponds, and marshes. This handsome black-and-orange snake eats sirens and amphiumas (large eel-like salamanders). Mud snakes are often killed by vehicles as they cross roads, moving between swamps, on stormy nights.
Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi): This snake is federally protected by the Endangered Species Act. The largest snake in the United States, reaching up to 8.6 feet in length, and 10 lbs. in weight. This bluish-black snake often has some orange-red pigment on the chin and neck. They frequently shelter in tortoise burrows, and have territories encompassing hundreds of acres. Indigo snakes are docile, virtually never biting people, but are powerful predators known to consume small turtles, rats, frogs, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes.
Scarlet Kingsnake (Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides): A fairly small (to 2 feet), beautiful snake ringed with red, yellow or white, and black. The pattern of this constrictor has the red rings touching the black rings (in the coral snake the red rings touch the yellow rings). This snake is common to abundant in pine flatwoods habitats throughout southeastern Georgia. The flattened snout is probably an adaptation for squeezing beneath bark - scarlet kingsnakes are often found under the bark of pine snags; they shed their skins and find prey (green anoles) in this habitat. It is a secretive animal that prowls at night during the summer.
Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea): Another fairly small (to 2 feet) red, black, and white snake which somewhat resembles the venomous coral snake. Scarlet snakes have a red snout and a series of red blotches or spots, outlined by black. They do not have a black snout, or red rings touching yellow rings, like the coral snake. This is a very common snake that burrows in sandy habitats. It is secretive and seldom encountered.
Corn Snake (Elaphe guttata): Also called the "red rat snake". A very common snake (to 4 feet) in southern Georgia, the corn snake is a colorful animal with red, black-bordered blotches on an orange background. The belly scales possess a bold, checkerboard or "piano key" pattern. This attractive snake is a muscular constrictor very capable of climbing high in search of bird nests. It often crosses roads at night during the summer. Prey includes rats, mice, birds, and their eggs. Young corn snakes eat lizards.
Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula): Long a favorite among snake-enthusiasts, this species commonly reaches about 5 feet in length. The eastern kingsnake has a chain-like pattern of white or cream markings on a black or blackish-green background. Like many snakes, kingsnakes often move, or hunt, in the ominous, humid weather preceding a storm. One interesting local name is "swamp-thumper"! This powerful constrictor eats frogs, rats, and snakes. It often consumes venomous snakes and is immune to their venom.
Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum): Golden and braided like a rope, and very slender but very long, coachwhips reach 7.5 feet in length making them one of the longest snakes in the United States! These fast-moving "lizard chasers" inhabit sandy, piney habitats called sandhills, and are active during the day. They sometimes climb trees in pursuit of baby birds, and are known to eat baby rattlesnakes.
Black Racer (Coluber constrictor): Easily one of the most common snakes in southeast Georgia, the sleek racer is often seen zipping across roads during the day. This black snake is fast-moving, with adults usually 3-4 feet in length. It is faster, much "skinner", and considerably more common than the protected eastern indigo snake. Indigos usually have some orange-red on the chin and throat, racers have a white chin. Racers eat mice, rats, frogs, and other snake.
Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus): This species is associated with densely vegetated areas having vines, bushes and shrubs. They are often encountered along the edges of rivers and lakes. They often climb vegetation in search of prey, feeding on spiders, grasshoppers, and other invertebrates. Adults are very slender and seldom reach lengths of more than 3 feet. This is the only "green" snake in Georgia. They are inoffensive and do not bite.
Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos): This species is characteristically found in sandy uplands, including mixed oak-pine forests and pine flatwoods. In southern Georgia, adults (2-3 feet in length) are usually solid black, but they are sometimes vividly marked with spots (as are all hatchlings and juveniles). The best identifying feature of hognose snakes is the upturned snout. The eastern hognose snake feeds primarily on toads. Specialized elongated teeth in the back of the jaw are used to "pop" toads and facilitate swallowing. This species is noted for an impressive defensive display that includes hissing and spreading the neck cobra-like. If pestered further, they will roll over on their back and play dead. Despite their bold act, they never intentionally bite humans (unless you smell of toads)!
Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus): This species is restricted to moist environments. It occurs in pine or deciduous forests with heavy ground litter. It is a highly secretive species. These snakes grow to lengths of slightly more than 1 foot. The dorsal color is slate gray with a yellow ring around the neck; the belly is yellow to orange with a row of dark spots. Ringneck snakes feed on earthworms, and small salamanders and frogs. They are eaten by many other types of snakes including coral snakes. They don't bite humans.
Redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata): This species is is found in moist woodland areas with abundant ground litter, and like the ringneck snake this snake is often found in peoples' yards in suburban areas. It is slender and reaches a length of 1 foot. Its back is usually reddish brown, but may be dark gray; the belly is red or salmon-orange. Red-bellied snakes feed mainly on slugs and earthworms. Red snakes may exhibit an unusual defense behavior when picked up. They curl their upper lips upwards, making their mouths look larger. But they never bite people.
Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis): This species is found in a diversity of grassy habitats that are usually wet or damp, although not necessarily near permanent aquatic areas. It is usually less than 2 feet long, large specimens occasionally reach lengths greater than 3 feet. It is distinguished from all other Georgia species, except ribbon snakes, by the presence of three yellow longitudinal stripes down a dark body. Garter snakes have black lines on their lip scales, whereas ribbon snakes do not. Some garter snakes in Georgia have a checkered body pattern with poorly defined stripes. This species gives birth to live young, sometimes having more than 50 babies. Common garter snakes feed on earthworms, frogs, toads, salamanders, fish and tadpoles.
Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus): These snakes are usually found near aquatic areas, particularly along lake or swamp margins. The species is more slender than the garter snake, but it is otherwise similar in general appearance. Ribbon snakes usually are less than 2 feet in length, although occasionally individuals may reach 3 feet. Eastern ribbon snakes feed on salamanders, frogs and small fish.