- There is no exact count of how many snakes live in the United States.
- The state of Alaska has zero snake species.
- Texas has the most snakes, with 68 species of snake present!
Snakes are found all over the United States. But how does the snake population by state break down? In this roundup, we’ve listed the number of snake species you can expect to see in each U.S. state. But first, let’s talk about the snake population, numbers, and how they are counted.
What Is the Total Snake Population in the U.S.?
How many snakes live in the United States? The answer, somewhat surprisingly, is that we don’t know. While conservationists point out that the global snake population is declining all over the world, one major problem is that we don’t know how many snakes we’re talking about.
As a research paper from the U.S. government notes, “Reliable data on snake populations are rare due to the challenges of sampling these patchily distributed, cryptic, and often nocturnal species and also due to their underrepresentation in the ecological literature.”
Why Can’t We Count Snake Populations?
There are two reasons for this. One is that snakes have not been listed as a priority species for protection and tracking until recently. The other is that snakes are notoriously difficult to track. They are usually nocturnal, and they’re excellent at hiding from humans.
According to an article in the journal Nature, 1/5 of all reptiles are classed as “data deficient,” which means we don’t have enough information on their population status to make solid estimates. The article notes, “Snakes have some of the lowest detection rates among reptiles.”
Two Common Methods of Tracking Snake Populations
Wildlife scientists have tried to develop ways to track populations of snakes and other reptiles. They primarily use two methods. One is the occupancy model, which looks at the snake’s surrounding environment to see how it has been affected by the presence of snakes. Another is the capture-mark-release (CMR) model, which involves trapping snakes, tagging them with a marker, and then releasing them back into the wild.
None of these have worked very well. The need for good methods is urgent, however, because biologists want to figure out what is causing the decline in snake populations.
New Ways of Counting
In 2017, J.D. Wilson, a scientist at the University of Arkansas, developed a new method for counting secretive species that he calls the Innovative Density Estimation Approach for Secretive Snakes (IDEASS).
In a press release, Wilson noted that CMR is the traditional way to estimate some species populations. But that has limited use with snakes. “You seldom recapture them,” Wilson said. “They are so secretive that the approach doesn’t work.”
IDEASS, by contrast, allows researchers to estimate densities without recapturing individuals. It uses road surveys as the most reliable way to track and monitor all these elusive snakes. The method is currently being tested on government-owned land to monitor snake populations.
How Long Do Snakes Live?
The lifespan of snakes varies greatly depending on the species. Some species of snakes can live for several decades, while others may only live for a few years.
Some of the longest-lived snake species include certain species of pythons and boas, which can live for over 30 years in captivity.
Other species of snakes, such as garter snakes, typically only live for around 3-4 years. The average lifespan of a snake also depends on the wild or captive conditions, as a snake in the wild will have a shorter lifespan than one in captivity.
Factors such as diet, habitat, and genetics also play a role in determining a snake’s lifespan.
How Many Snake Species Live in Every U.S. State?
Read our list for all the details.
Alabama has 43 species, including six venomous species, which include the Copperhead, Cottonmouth, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Pigmy Rattlesnake, and Eastern Coral Snake.
Alaska has no snake species.
Of the state’s 39 snake species, only six are venomous. The most common native snakes are the eastern hognose and the black rat.
California is a large state with many different ecosystems. It is home to more than 33 snake species, and many are endemic to the state. It has six venomous snakes. One native, the saw-scaled viper, may be responsible for more deaths than all other snake species combined.
With more than 30 species, Colorado is a good place to see these slithering beauties. Only three of its species are venomous, and they’re all rattlesnakes.
Hawaii has no native snakes, and the state has gone to great lengths to prevent the introduction of non-native species that could destroy its environment. The only snake living there is the Brahminy blind snake, which is the smallest snake on earth. It is 6 inches long and pink in color. Fortunately, this tiny invader poses no threat to Hawaii’s ecology or humans. Hawaii’s other snake is the yellow-bellied sea snake, which lives in the ocean surrounding the Hawaiian islands.
The Gem State is home to 12 species, including the commonly seen garter, gopher, and North American racer.
Illinois has a good variety of snakes, and only four of its species are venomous.
With 32 to choose from, you can see lots of different snakes in the Hoosier State. They include the eastern hog-nosed, gray rat, and common garter. It is also home to two rattlesnake species.
The state’s many species include the diamondback water, western ribbon, common garter, and North American racer. Conservation efforts have focused on preserving the massasauga rattlesnake, a species known locally as “swamp rattler.” Conservationists are also trying to protect smooth greens, which have suffered from the use of pesticides.
Kansas’s farms invite rodents, who make a tasty meal for its many species. They are mostly harmless ring-necked, hognose, rat, and garter varieties.
Kirtland’s, ribbon, northern water, and pine are all species that call Kentucky home. The Mississippi green water is only found in areas close to the Mississippi River, and the northern water is a frequent visitor to the state’s rivers and lakes.
Louisiana’s swamps and bayous provide ideal hunting and hiding grounds for its 48 species. The state has the wet, warm weather they thrive in. You are most likely to see the ring-necked, scarlet king, pine, and Mississippi green water species.
The state has no venomous species. It is home to eastern ribbons, western ribbons, eastern garters, and common garters.
With mountains and coastline, Maryland has a good number of native species. They include common water, plain-bellied water, queen, and smooth earth. One of the state’s most attractive snakes is the small, reddish-brown mountain earth snake.
This state’s species are mostly non-venomous. The largest is the black rat, which can grow more than 8 feet long. It is harmless, and it’s also listed as endangered in the state. DeKay’s brown is a shy snake that occasionally visits gardens to eat slugs.
Eastern garter, Butler’s garter, northern ribbon, and western fox are some of the species that call this Great Lakes state home. The state’s 18 species include only one, the eastern massasauga, which is venomous.
Most of the native species here are harmless garden visitors. Among these are the plains hognose, northern water, gopher, garter, and smooth green. The state’s only two venomous species—the eastern massasauga and the timber rattler—are mostly found in the densely forested southeastern part of the state.
Mississippi’s warm waters are home to many species, including several venomous ones like the copperhead, eastern coral, and rattlesnake. Despite this, the majority of its species are harmless and include the common garter, eastern milk, and black racer.
The U.S. has more than 50 snake species, and 47 of them live in Missouri. Here, you’ll find eastern yellow-bellied racers, northern scarlets, prairie ringnecks, and western worms. There are several subspecies of the hognose including the plains and eastern versions. You’ll also find a few venomous species like the western cottonmouth and the massasauga.
The chances of encountering a deadly snake here are low. The state has only one venomous species, and it’s the prairie rattlesnake. You are more likely to see this rattler in the open countryside, but it occasionally visits forests. The state’s other species are harmless.
The eastern glossy, speckled king, smooth green, and coachwhip are some of the slithery species you’ll find here. Nebraska is also home to the western fox and Graham’s crayfish. It has four venomous species, including a copperhead and three pit viper species.
The Nevada desert is home to many different species. They include rattlers, cottonmouths, and copperheads. However, you’ll also find many non-venomous species like the beautiful Arizona Mountain and the California Lyre. The coachwhip, desert glossy, and desert night are among its native species.
New Hampshire: 11
The state has 11 species, of which five are listed as species in greatest need of conservation. They are the timber rattler, eastern hognose, northern black racer, smooth green, and ribbon. Killing snakes is illegal in the state.
New Jersey: 23
The Garden State has 23 species. They include the northern copperhead, eastern worm, and eastern hognose. It only has two venomous species.
New Mexico: 46
Like Texas and Arizona, this southwestern state is home to many snakes. New Mexico has eight venomous snakes and a large number of non-venomous ones. Its unique native species include the Sonoran coral, New Mexico blind, Chihuahuan night, and plains black-headed snake.
New York: 17
The garter, milk, and water are the types you’re most likely to see in most parts of the state. Its poisonous species mostly live in the less populated areas and nature reserves.
North Carolina: 37
North Dakota: 8
The state’s species include one venomous species, which is the prairie rattlesnake.
Most of its snakes are common and harmless, including the queen and smooth earth.
This is another state with a high number of snakes, including 7 venomous ones.
The state is home to the rubber boa, sharptail, and California mountain king.
Pennsylvania’s woodlands are home to many species, but it’s rare to see them. The state is also home to three water species.
Rhode Island: 12
There are no venomous species here, so any snake you meet is likely to be harmless.
South Carolina: 38
Black racers, rough greens, non-venomous water snakes, and eastern diamondback rattlers are just a few of the many snake species here.
South Dakota: 17
Red corn, gray rat, and red-bellied mud are among Tennessee’s native snake species.
Texas has a huge, diverse snake population. Including sub-species, conservationists think there may be more than 100 species that call Texas home. The vast majority are harmless and include the Texas indigo and eastern hognose. The state’s most venomous species is the Texas coral snake.
Utah has several rattlesnake species and several non-venomous species.
This state’s many harmless snakes include the western terrestrial garter, gopher, black racer, and striped whipsnake. As in many states, wildlife officials have spent time educating people about the many ways snakes help the environment.
West Virginia: 23
Wild, wonderful West Virginia has many species, and only two are venomous. They range in size from 6 inches to more than 6 feet. State wildlife officials have pointed out that deaths from bees, cows, and horses have caused 15 times as many deaths as snakes in the state.
The state has 10 non-venomous species, which include milk and smooth green snakes.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Joe McDonald/Shutterstock.com
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Which state has the highest snake population?
Texas. You’ll find 68 snake species there.
What state has the least amount of snakes?
Alaska. There are no snake species in Alaska.
Are there snakes in all 50 states?
There are snake species found in every state except Alaska.
Why are there no snakes in Alaska?
There are no snakes in Alaska because of its frigid climate.
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