Black Snakes in Louisiana 

Written by Megan Martin
Updated: August 31, 2023
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Have you ever wanted to learn more about the black snakes in Louisiana? From their appearance to their diet, here’s everything you need to know.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

About Black Snakes

The name “black snake” can refer to different types of snakes. However, the most common is Pantherophis obsoletus. P. obsoletus is actually known by several names other than black snake, including western rat snake, black rat snake, and pilot black snake.

One of the most important things to know about the black snake is that it is a non-venomous species. This means that although their bite can still cause a reaction or even an infection, it isn’t as dangerous as a species like the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, which is the most venomous snake in the United States.

As nonvenomous snakes, black snakes can’t rely on any type of venom to protect themselves. As a result, they’ve developed different ways to protect themselves from predators – that is when the preferred method of fleeing fails.

First, black rat snakes can produce a foul-smelling musk. This is a tactic evolved by many different types of non-venomous snakes that often fall prey to larger, more dangerous species. When they’re feeling frightened, the black rat snake can release this smell as a way to make predators think twice about whether or not they actually want to eat something with that stench.

Black snakes have also evolved to mimic rattlesnakes. Although they don’t have the same rattler as these venomous species, black snakes have learned to shake their tail similarly.

A black rat snake slithering over a large rock

Black snakes are non-venomous species.

©Psychotic Nature/


The black snake can be easy to mix up with other snakes due to its solid black coloration. However, they are distinct in their size. Black snakes are some of the longest snakes in North America. In fact, some sources state that they are the longest. The largest black snake ever was 8.5 feet long, the longest snake ever officially recorded in North America. Unofficially, a black pine snake measured in at 9.25 feet long.

red bellied mud snake

Black snakes have solid black coloration.

©Patrick K. Campbell/


The black rat snake has a diet that mainly consists of rodents. This includes mice, rats, and squirrels. However, this isn’t the only thing you’ll find on their menu. Black snakes also eat lizards, amphibians, and bird eggs.

Black Snake Bites

Because black snakes aren’t venomous, their bites aren’t considered a medical emergency. However, you still shouldn’t ignore the wound. Like with any type of bite, a black snake’s bite can become infected, posing a greater risk.

Where to Find Black Snakes in Louisiana?

Black snakes are a fairly adaptable species. This means that the black snakes in Louisiana live in a variety of different types of habitats. However, in this state, the most common places to find black snakes include plains and forests. 

Can Black Snakes in Louisiana Be Kept as Pets?

Keeping wild animals, especially snakes, isn’t recommended as pets. Wild animals are entirely different from domesticated pets or pet animals born in captivity. Not only can it be dangerous, or even illegal, to attempt to catch and keep a black snake in Louisiana, but it’s not healthy for the snake either. Wild snakes that are caught and then turned into pets often fail to thrive. 

Southern black racer curled up

Black snakes should not be kept as pets.

©Psychotic Nature/

What to Do if You Find a Black Snake in Louisiana?

If you happen to find a nonvenomous black snake in Louisiana, it’s best just to leave them alone. They won’t bite unless threatened, and it can be dangerous for you and them if you attempt to engage them. Left alone, black snakes will usually continue to mind their business.

If a black snake is in your home or business, some local officials may be able to offer better help in safely removing the snake. 

Other Types of Black Snakes in Louisiana

Although Pantherophis obsoletus is the most common type of black snake in Louisiana, there are snakes with a black coloration. This includes:

  • Southern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus punctatus)
  • North American Racer (Coluber constrictor)
  • Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus)
  • Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
  • Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus orarius)
  • Black Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi)
  • Mud Snake (Farancia abacura)
  • Western Mud Snake (Farancia abacura reinwardtii)
  • Black King Snake (Lampropeltis nigra)
  • Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum).

Some of these snakes may be black but also feature different colors. For example, the common garter snake and the Gulf Coast ribbon snake are both black or grey snakes, similar to the black rat snake. However, they also feature bright white or yellow lines running down the tops and sides of their body.

It’s also important that other black snake species may share the common name of “black snake.” This is one reason that it may be hard to differentiate species based on name alone unless you use their scientific name. Thankfully, solid black snakes, like the black rat snake, are rarely venomous. This means that identification is not as urgent as antivenom isn’t needed in the case of a bite. 

There are some venomous snakes in Louisiana with black markings, however. One of the most notable is the Texas coral snake (Micrurus tener).

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Psychotic Nature/

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About the Author

Megan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is birds, felines, and sharks. She has been researching and writing about animals for four years, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University, which she earned in 2022. A resident of North Carolina, Megan is an avid birdwatcher that enjoys spending time with her cats and exploring local zoological parks with her husband.

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