21 Snakes In Washington

Written by Tracy Graham
Published: September 6, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Westhoff
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Think You Know Snakes?

The state of Washington is known for wet weather, a lot of water, and stunning mountain vistas. But Washington also has a lot of wildlife that are attracted to the watery woodsy habitats that the state provides. Even though it can be pretty cold in Washington and snakes aren’t known for liking the cold there are more than 20 native snake species that are found in Washington. It might be a surprise that there aren’t a lot of water snakes in Washington considering how much water the state has. But most of the snakes in Washington like wooded habitats or rocky ledges like those found in the mountains of Washington.

21 Snakes In Washington

Some of the most commonly found snakes in Washington state are:

Western Hog Nose Snake

The western hog nose snake is one of the most common snakes found throughout the country, including Washington. This snake’s colors change depending on their local habitat. In Washington the western hog nose snake usually has a dull tan or brown coloring with darker brown markings. You can easily tell the western hog nose snake by its nose. The nose will be upturned like a pig’s snout. This allows the snake to dig in the loose sandy soil that it likes to live in.

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Western Hognose snakes have an an upturned scale at the tip of their nose that helps them dig through sand and loose soil.

Bryn Thomas/Shutterstock.com

Sharp Tail Snake

Sharp tail snakes are easy to spot because of their coloring even though they are small. In Washington you will often find sharp tail snakes on the forest floors in the forests of the southeast part of the state. Sharp tail snakes are only about a foot long. They have red or red orange coloring on the top but black and white bands. You can always identify a sharp tail snake by the unique pointed tail.

A Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia tenuis), near Lake Nacimiento, San Luis Obispo County, California
You will find Sharp Tail Snake In Washington you will often find sharp tail snakes on the forest floors in the forests of the southeast part of the state.

California Mountain King Snake

Washington is the extreme edge of where these snakes live in the US and mostly you will find them in the northern part of the state. California mountain king snakes are short snakes. They are usually only between two and two and a half feet long. They are known for their bright red or reddish orange bands which are edged with bands of black and white. Even though the California mountain king snake might resemble the venomous coral snake it’s not venomous. The small size and the lack of a rattle will let you know that you’re looking at a California mountain king snake and not a coral snake. There are no coral snakes in Washington.

California king snake isolated on white background
Even though the California mountain king snake might resemble the venomous coral snake it’s not venomous.

reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

Northern Black Racer Snake

Northern black racer snakes are hard to miss. Even though they are extremely fast and will dart away as quickly as possible they are very long and thin so you will notice them moving. Some black racer snakes are more than six feet long. Black racers can move at up to 4 miles per hour. So most of the time you will only see this snake as it speeds away from you. They are not confrontational and they would prefer to leave rather than bite. Northern black racers like to stick to the grasslands and grassy areas near forests.

Snakes That Look Like Copperheads-Black Racer Snake
Northern black racer snakes are hard to miss. Even though they are extremely fast and will dart away as quickly as possible they are very long and thin so you will notice them moving.

Breck P. Kent/Shutterstock.com

Striped Whip Snake

Striped whip snakes tend to prefer dry and arid areas. In Washington they usually hang out in the Columbia Basin and Grant County. Whip snakes are thin but very long. In Washington these snakes can be up to 72 inches long. You may see them near shrubs or sometimes crossing roads. They are dull brown or olive with long thin white stripes running the entire length of the body.

Striped Racer - Whipsnake
Striped Whip Snakes tend to prefer dry and arid areas. In Washington they usually hang out in the Columbia Basin and Grant County.

Creeping Things/Shutterstock.com

Milk Snake

Milk snakes are another type of snake that resembles a coral snake. But you can tell the difference between a California mountain king snake and a milk snake by the length. Milk snakes can be up to 72 inches long while the California mountain king snake is quite small. The coral snake is also small. These long snakes have the same color patterns as the coral snake and the California mountain king snake though. They have red or red orange wide bands of color that are flanked by white bands and thin black bands. Coral snakes have yellow bands next to the red bands so if you see a red snake with white bands it’s either a milk snake or a California king mountain snake.

What Do Milk Snakes Eat - Campbell's Milk Snake
Milk snakes are another type of snake that resembles a coral snake. But you can tell the difference between a California mountain king snake and a milk snake by the length.

Seregraff/Shutterstock.com

Rubber Boa Snake

Rubber boas are found primarily in eastern Washington. They are only about two or two and a half feet long. But it’s the color that identifies a rubber boa snake. Rubber boas have a very unique gray color and their small scales have a glassy appearance. This makes the snake look like a smooth shiny piece of rubber. That’s why it’s called a rubber boa.

Snakes in Montana - Northern Rubber Boa
Rubber boas are found primarily in eastern Washington. They are only about two or two and a half feet long.

yhelfman/Shutterstock.com

Venomous Snakes In Washington

There aren’t many types of venomous snakes in Washington, but there are a lot of venomous snakes in Washington. The northern copperhead rattlesnake is one of the most common snakes throughout the state. Learn how to spot these venomous snakes in Washington so you don’t end up with a nasty bite.

Northern Copperhead Snake

The northern copperhead snake is easy to recognize if you see it in time. These snakes are brown or tan with very distinct markings and an even more distinct rattle. They aren’t very large. They are only about two feet long. But they have extremely wide bodies so when they are coiled they look larger than they are. They like forested areas and rocky ledges so always be on high alert when you’re hiking or biking through areas of the state where you might find them.

Weakest animals copperhead snake
A Northern Copperhead likes forested areas and rocky ledges so always be on high alert when you’re hiking or biking through areas of the state where you might find them.

Timber Rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnakes are also common around Washington. They almost always live in deciduous forests, which there are plenty of in Washington. They can be almost six feet long. Their color pattern vary based on the environment. The ones that you might find in Washington are typically gray with dark gray or olive dull markings to help them blend into the forest areas. When you’re hiking through any of the forests in Washington always keep an eye out for movement on the forest floor. If you see a timber rattlesnake the best thing to do is stop. Then very slowly back up. Don’t make any sudden movements that might make the snake feel cornered or threatened.

Timber Rattlesnake coiled on a rock
Timber rattlesnakes are also common around Washington. They almost always live in deciduous forests, which there are plenty of in Washington.

bradenjalexander/Shutterstock.com

Western Massasauga Snake

Western massasauga snakes also like forests and they like to nest in leaf litter and under branches that are close to the ground. They have a gray or olive color pattern in Washington that makes it easy for them to hide in the forests, especially in the mountains. Massasaugas are very small and are generally just a couple of feet long. But don’t let their size fool you, they are venomous and you should be wary of them.

Iowa Snakes - Massasauga Rattlesnake
Massasauga Snakes have a gray or olive color pattern in Washington that makes it easy for them to hide in the forests, especially in the mountains.

fivespots/Shutterstock.com

Western Rattlesnake

Western rattlesnakes have western in their name, but they are only found in the eastern part of Washington state. These rattlesnakes are usually about four feet long and have diamond shaped markings that may look similar to the diamondback rattlesnake’s markings. But there are no diamondback rattlesnakes in Washington.

Largest Rattlesnake
Western rattlesnakes have western in their name, but they are only found in the eastern part of Washington state.

Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com

A Complete List Of Snakes In Washington

Always keep an eye out for snakes when you are enjoying all the outdoor activities in Washington. Generally speaking if you leave them alone they will leave you alone, but if you see a venomous snake always be extremely careful. The complete list of snakes in Washington is:

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Massasauga hiding in leaves
A Massasauga Rattlesnake hides in the leaves. Massasaugas are small snakes with thick bodies, heart-shaped heads, and vertical pupils.
iStock.com/Westhoff
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What type of venomous snakes live in Washington state?

There are quite a few venomous snakes in Washington state. Some of these snakes include Western Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Northern Copperhead, and Western Massasauga Snake.

Does the weather in Washington prevent many snakes from living there?

Even though it can be pretty cold in Washington and snakes aren’t known for liking the cold there are more than 20 native snake species that are found in Washington. It might be a surprise that there aren’t a lot of water snakes in Washington considering how much water the state has. But most of the snakes in Washington like wooded habitats or rocky ledges like those found in the mountains of Washington.

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