Discover the Snakes That Live in the Gulf of Mexico

Written by Megan Martin
Updated: August 27, 2023
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If you’re planning a trip to the Gulf of Mexico, you may be wondering what animals you should expect to encounter. Whether out of fear or interest, you may want to learn about the different snakes that live in the Gulf of Mexico.

This complete guide will walk you through everything you need to know about snakes in and around the Gulf of Mexico. Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

Are There Sea Snakes in the Gulf of Mexico?

Although it may seem strange, the Gulf of Mexico is completely devoid of sea snakes! In fact, there aren’t even sea snakes native to the Atlantic Ocean, which means that they’re a rare sight in these waters altogether. 

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However, since all of Earth’s oceans are connected, it’s easy for species to end up in places they aren’t naturally found. Certain species of snakes have been able to completely colonize new islands in the past by traversing waters they aren’t native to. 

Mississippi Dead Zone
No species of sea snakes are native to the Gulf of Mexico.

©Anton Balazh/

Have Sea Snakes Been Spotted in the Gulf of Mexico?

While it is possible for sea snakes to enter the Gulf of Mexico, have any snakes actually been spotted here? The answer is yes!

The yellow-bellied sea snake is a venomous species of sea snake that is found everywhere in the world except for the Atlantic Ocean. However, while they aren’t native to the Gulf of Mexico region, individuals have been spotted here. 

Snakes Found Near the Gulf of Mexico

While snakes are not native to the Gulf of Mexico, many different species of snakes live on the surrounding land. Below, you’ll find four common species that you may spot when perusing the coastal areas near the Gulf of Mexico. 

1. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is a common snake in the United States’ southeastern region. It is a pit viper type, which relies on venom rather than constriction to kill its prey. Not only is it a venomous snake, but it is actually the largest venomous snake in the United States! It’s also one of the heaviest.

You can identify this snake by its triangular head and unique tail, which has a noisy rattle. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is also known for its brown and grey diamond pattern, which is where it gets its name.  

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Close Up
This species is actually the largest venomous snake in the United States!


2. Coachwhip

The coachwhip is a species of snake that can only be found in the United States and Mexico. As a result, they are a common sight along the coast, although they won’t stray too close to the saltwater itself. 

There are six different subspecies of coachwhip. The eastern coachwhip is the most common around the Gulf of Mexico area. They’re fairly nonaggressive snakes, and they’d much rather flee from you than bite or otherwise attack. Interestingly, their name stems from a myth about them chasing down people and whipping them!

Pink Coachwhip Snake
There are six different subspecies of coachwhip.

©Nathan A Shepard/

3. Black Racer

The black racer snake, also known as the racer, is one of the fastest snakes in the Western Hemisphere. They’re also one of the longest, reaching up to around 5 feet in length. 

Although their extreme speed may make them seem like a threat, the black racer, like the coachwhip, actually doesn’t have much interest in chasing down or hurting humans. In fact, they’d much rather use their speed to escape than to attack!

The black racer is found only in North America and Central America. There are 11 different subspecies spread throughout these countries. 

northern black racer
The black racer is one of the longest snakes in the Western Hemisphere, reaching up to 5 feet in length. 

©Breck P. Kent/

4. Cottonmouth

Lastly, another one of the most common snakes that live near the Gulf of Mexico is the cottonmouth. Like the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, this is a venomous species that you’ll need to exercise caution around if you happen to stumble across one. However, unlike with the rattlesnake and its tell-tale rattler, it can be more challenging to identify a cottonmouth.

These snakes get their name from the inside of their mouth, which is a bright white color. They’re common in damp, wet environments, such as swamps and rivers. As a result, while these may not be a species of snake that lives in the Gulf of Mexico, they’re still extremely common in the surrounding areas. If you’re hiking in the forested areas nearby, make sure to pay a close eye on where you step. These snakes can easily blend in with their environment. An accidental run-in can be dangerous for both you and them! As a result, it’s important to be cautious.

Western Cottonmouth
These snakes get their name from the inside of their mouth, which is a bright white color.

©Psychotic Nature/

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About the Author

I'm an animal enthusiast with a love for birds and a background in writing. I graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in biology and professional and technical writing. Mountain lions are my favorite animals. In my free time, I like to bird watch or spend time watching nature documentaries.

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