9 Snakes in Maine (With Identification Guides and Pictures)

Written by Tracy Graham
Updated: November 4, 2022
© Breck P. Kent/Shutterstock.com
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Maine is an outdoor lover’s paradise and home to some of the most beautiful and demanding country in the nation. One of the most challenging outdoor activities in Maine is taking a hike through the 100-mile wilderness section of the famous Appalachian Trail. Hiking, fishing, rock climbing, and all types of outdoor activities are available in Maine. One of the things that makes Maine even more attractive to outdoor enthusiasts is that Maine doesn’t have very many types of snakes. And Maine has no venomous snakes at all. That’s great news for people who love to enjoy the outdoors. Currently, Maine only has 9 types of snakes. Let’s dive into all nine of Maine’s snakes so you can identify them when in the Pine Tree State!

The 9 Snakes In Maine

While many states are home to dozens of snakes, Maine is home to less than 10. More importantly, it’s one of just three states that lacks venomous snakes at all!

1. Garter Snake

Garter snakes can be found near water.

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Garter snakes live all over Maine and many other states too. These little snakes are harmless and while they will strike if they feel very threatened they also will put off a bad smell and flee if they feel scared. Garter snakes are relatively small and rarely grow longer than 24 inches. They like to sun themselves on rocks during the day. They’re usually found in woods and near water. Garter snakes can have many different colors and marking patterns but they are usually some variation of yellow, brown, black, dark green. They may also have red markings.

There are 13 subspecies of garter snakes and the type found in Maine is the maritime garter snake, which ranges across northeastern New England, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces of Canada. While other snakes may have a more limited range in Maine, garter snakes are found throughout the state’s borders. Garter snakes eat mostly small invertebrates like frogs, insects, and small lizards.

2. Ribbon Snake

Ribbon Snake vs Garter Snake - Eastern Ribbon Snake
Ribbon snakes are small and harmless to humans.

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Ribbon snakes are almost always harmless to humans. They prefer a semi-aquatic environment so most of the time they can be found living around the edges of lakes and rivers. Maine has lots of lakes and rivers where ribbon snakes can find residence. However, it’s important to note that the snakes most commonly inhabit the southwestern portion of the state near cities like Augusta and Portland. They’re not found inland or east beyond Bangor.

Ribbon snakes usually have a body that is dark green, brown, or black with light green or yellow markings that are similar to the markings that a garter snake has. There are several different varieties of ribbon snakes but all are non-threatening to humans so if you find one when you’re hiking or boating don’t worry. The ribbon snake will be totally uninterested in you in almost every case.

3. DeKay’s Brown Snake

Snakes in Maine - DeKay's Brown Snake (Northern Brown Snake)
Brown snakes in Maine are not a threat to humans and rarely grow more than 14 inches in length.

©Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com

Brown snakes are woodlands snakes that prefer a forest-type habitat. As their name suggests they are usually brown but they can also be dark green or black. Typically their bellies are lighter brown or yellow. Brown snakes have a very distinctive set of black dots on their faces. Those dots are the best way to identify a brown snake. Brown snakes are not intimidated by humans so they are not likely to flee if you see one. But they also are not aggressive at all so they’re not threatening to people. Like other snakes in Maine, they’re not typically found ar inland but will inhabit within 50 miles of the coastline from the border of Massachusetts to near Ellsworth.

4. Northern Water Snake (Lake Erie Watersnake)

Snakes in Maine - Northern Water Snake / Lake Erie Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum)
Northern water snakes are some of the largest snakes in Maine but are non-venomous.

©Michiel de Wit/Shutterstock.com

The northern water snake can look very scary. It’s a large snake that can grow over 60 inches long and they are usually black or dark gray with black or brown spots. As the name suggests it’s a snake that lives in and around water so if you are swimming or fishing or boating and you see a large black snake in the water or just on the shore you might get scared. But even though the northern water snake looks scary it’s actually not a threat to people at all. This snake doesn’t bother humans and prefers to be left alone to feed on fish and water creatures. They will sometimes sun themselves on rocks near the shore when the weather is quite warm.

Northern water snakes are the one kind of water snake in Maine and will breed during the spring and give birth during the fall. Their range is mostly confined to the southwestern quadrant of the state.

5. Red-Bellied Snake

You can recognize a red-bellied snake by the distinctive red-orange color on the underside of the snake and the deep brown scales on the top of the snake. These snakes ar usually fairly small and don’t grow much past a foot in length. Red-Bellied snakes are woodland dwellers who stay in the forests and heavily wooded areas that make up a huge portion of the state. Red-Bellied snakes pose no threat to humans at all. They eat insects primarily and move silently throughout the forest. If you like to hike or spend a lot of time in the forest you will probably see these snakes often but there’s no reason to be alarmed by them.

6. Milk Snake

Snakes That Look Like Copperheads-Eastern Milk Snake
Eastern milk snakes are very beneficial animals, especially for farmers, as they hunt down small rodents often found on farm buildings and barns.

©Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com

Eastern milk snakes are hard to miss. They have alternating bands of brown and tan blotches that can often appear quite red. In addition, they can grow to up to 3 feet in length. But don’t be afraid of Milk Snakes. They are absolutely no threat to humans. Milk Snakes are often kept as pets because they are easy to handle. They’re also popular pets because they have such a docile and easy going nature and because of their beautiful colors and markings. In the wild they prefer to live in mountainous areas or in pastures, meadows, and open areas.

7. Smooth Green Snake

Snakes in Maine - Smooth Green Snake
Smooth green snakes are difficult to spot but are found across the northeast and the maritime provinces

©Kristian Bell/Shutterstock.com

Even if you are a dedicated outdoor enthusiast you may go for years without ever seeing a Smooth Green Snake. Smooth Green Snakes are known for their glassy bright greens scales. But they blend in so well with grass and plants that they are extremely difficult to spot. Green snakes are very small. Typically they don’t get larger than about 20 inches long. Smooth Green snakes are docile, but prefer to hide from humans. A Smooth Green snake will go underground or hide deeply in brush and greenery so that they can’t be seen. These snakes are popular pets because they are easy keepers and eat insects.

8. Ring-Necked Snake

Ring-necked snake
Small and colorful, the ring-necked snake is nocturnal and non-venomous.

©yhelfman/Shutterstock.com

The distinctive rings of yellow and orange all along the body of this snake give it the name the ring-necked snake. But these woodland and forest dwelling snakes are shy and prefer to stay hidden. So, you may not even see the ring-necked snake even if one is quite near you. They are often just 12 inches long but may grow up to 16 inches long. The Ring-Necked Snake will bite sometimes if it feels like it’s cornered. But it usually will just disappear or hide as soon as humans enter the area it lives in.

9. Northern Black Racer

Snakes That Look Like Copperheads-Black Racer Snake
The black racer is an agile and very fast animal that can “run” (crawl) 4 miles per hour when it is threatened, hence the name “racer”.

©Breck P. Kent/Shutterstock.com

The northern black racer is a big black snake that can grow over 60 inches long. Black Racers are known for the speed of their attack. They also move very quickly when they are fleeing. The northern lack racer generally prefers to live in open grasslands or in the forest adjacent to open grasslands. Farmers and those who live in rural areas near large open fields may come across racers. Even though this snake is incredibly fast and big enough to consume small mammals it won’t hurt humans. So there’s no reason to be afraid of this snake.

Like other snakes in Maine, the speices is largely only found in the southwestern quadrant of the state.

Venomous Snakes In Maine

Maine is one of only three states in the entire United States that has no venomous snakes. Hawaii and Alaska are the others. Any snake can strike out or bite if it feels like you’re a threat or if it feels like it’s being cornered. But there are no dangerous snakes in Maine. Most of the snakes in Maine would prefer to flee rather than attack. They would only strike out if it were surprised or really felt threatened. So it’s pretty easy to avoid any kind of snake bites when you’re in Maine.

Enjoy Snakes With No Risk

Maine is a fantastic place to visit if you are fascinated by snakes. It gives people a chance to get close to some snakes without having to worry about getting bitten. Since Maine is one of only three states with no venomous snakes you can observe snakes safely. It’s the only state with no venomous snakes that is on the mainland of the US. So, it’s the best place to go if you want to observe snakes in the wild safely.

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Snakes That Look Like Copperheads-Black Racer Snake
The black racer is an agile and very fast animal that can "run" (crawl) 4 miles per hour when it is threatened, hence the name "racer".
© Breck P. Kent/Shutterstock.com

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