Snakes That Only Live On The East Coast

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: December 26, 2022
© Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.com
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Key Facts

  • The East Coast is comprised of several habitats which are suitable for snakes.
  • The nonvenomous Carolina water snake can be found on the salt marshes of the Outer Banks and the neighboring mainland.
  • The short-fanged eastern coral snake prefers sandy, open areas with sparse vegetation.

Snakes may be among the most widespread reptile species in the world, having over 3,000 different species spread across the globe! It means that anywhere you live (except Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, and New Zealand), you’ll likely encounter a snake or two. And if you are living in the suburbs or less populated rural places, then the chances of encountering snakes are even higher.

If you are living on the East Coast, there is a huge chance that you’ve seen snakes, particularly if you settle around the southeastern states of the United States, such as Florida and Georgia. The East Coast is replete with various shapes of nature, and this diversity also caters to a wide range of habitats for different types of snakes. While many snake species in North America are distributed across 50 states, some of them are exclusively found on the East Coast. This article will list the snakes that only live on the East Coast and more.

What Comprises the East Coast?

The North Atlantic Ocean and the Eastern United States meet along the United States East Coast, commonly referred to as the Eastern Seaboard or Atlantic Coast. The region consists of the Atlantic Ocean-facing coastal states and territory east of the Appalachian Mountains, including Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

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15 Snakes That Only Live On The East Coast

1. Carolina Pygmy Rattlesnake

©Suzanna Ruby/Shutterstock.com

The Coastal Plains region of South Carolina is home to pygmy rattlesnakes. Sandhills, floodplains, and mixed woods are where you’ll commonly find these snakes. Pygmy rattlesnakes can be found between March and October near freshwater bodies of water, such as marshes, swamps, ponds, and streams. During these months, pygmy rattlesnakes are busy as they search for tiny creatures, including frogs, lizards, and rodents. Pygmy rattlesnakes are much smaller than the other rattlesnakes in South Carolina, reaching lengths of only 14 to 30 inches.

2. Carolina Water Snake

The northern Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and mountains of North Carolina are home to a range of aquatic habitats where northern water snakes can be found. They are rather large, heavy-bodied water snakes and the ones found in the salt marshes of the Outer Banks and the neighboring mainland are a different subspecies known as the “Carolina water snake.” Carolina water snakes are significantly darker than those from inland locales. The northern water snake is not venomous, but because of its superficial appearance, it is frequently mistaken for the venomous cottonmouth and copperhead

3. Eastern Coral Snake

The eastern coral snake has a black snout followed by a band of yellow, then black, then yellow or white, then red, then yellow then black all the way down to the tail.
Due to its short fangs, the coral snake must hang on and chew on its victim to inject venom.

©iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

Only the southeastern region of the United States is home the eastern coral snake. It favors habitats with hammocks, flatwoods with slash pine and saw palmetto trees, and sandy, open areas with some vegetation but not too much. Additionally, it can be found in areas of scrubby forests close to the beaches of North and South Carolina. The scattered locales in southern Coastal Plain, including all of Florida, are also home to the eastern coral snake. Due to its short fangs, the coral snake must hang on and chew on its victim to inject venom.

4. Eastern Ribbon Snake

Ribbon Snake vs Garter Snake - Eastern Ribbon Snake
The majority of Florida is home to eastern ribbon snakes.

©Steve Bower/Shutterstock.com

While present in much of the eastern US, eastern ribbon snakes are missing from the Appalachian Mountains. They are frequently encountered in Georgia’s Piedmont and Coastal Plain, but their frequency increases as you move from the Mountains to the Coast. Additionally, the majority of Florida is home to eastern ribbon snakes. As semi-aquatic snakes, they are often seen near the margins of bogs, lakes, and salt marshes. Ribbon snakes swim in the water close to the shoreline and feed on small fish and amphibians.

5. Eastern Worm Snake

Worm snake - Eastern Worm Snake
Eastern worm snakes are brown with lustrous scales and range in length from 7 to 11 inches.

©Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock.com

A subspecies of the worm snake is the eastern worm snake. Eastern worm snakes are brown with lustrous scales and range in length from 7 to 11 inches. The Piedmont region of South Carolina, Georgia, and New England is home to many of them. They also reside in the highlands and coastal plains. These species are burrowers that favor damp environments. Since they are not poisonous and do not bite, they are harmless to people.

6. Coastal Plain Milk Snake

The Coastal Plain milk snake is currently regarded as a hybrid of the scarlet kingsnake and the eastern milk snake.

©Nathan A Shepard/Shutterstock.com

Despite ongoing taxonomic and genetic research, the Coastal Plain milk snake is currently regarded as a hybrid of the scarlet kingsnake and the eastern milk snake. One of the most beautiful snakes in the country, specimens display a wide range of patterns and hues. They are found in environments comparable to the eastern milk snake’s habitat, such as riverbanks, wooded areas, and outbuildings like barns. The greatest known populations of Coastal Plain milk snakes can be found in the Maryland counties of St. Mary’s and Calvert.

7. Rainbow Snake

The rainbow snake can be found in the Coastal Plain of the southern United States.

©Charles Baker / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

Rainbow snakes live in the Coastal Plain of the southern United States, stretching from southern Virginia to eastern Louisiana. In the past, a few rainbow snakes lived in southern Florida, close to Lake Okeechobee. The southern half of the Florida peninsula is currently thought to be snake-free as no snakes have been discovered there in several decades. Rainbow snakes can reach lengths of up to five and a half feet and exist in damp conditions. These snakes used to come in two varieties, but one has since been extinct.

8. Eastern Mud Snake

Eastern Mud Snake
Mud snakes are typically only found in the Coastal Plain of Georgia.

©Nathan A Shepard/Shutterstock.com

From southern Virginia through Florida, the Coastal Plain of the southern United States is home to mud snakes. Mud snakes are typically only found in the Coastal Plain of Georgia, though they occasionally venture into the Piedmont region. In addition to Carolina bays, seasonal wetlands, marshes, cypress swamps, slow-moving streams, and the densely vegetated edges of lakes and ponds, mud snakes can also be found in other types of aquatic habitats. In South Carolina, juvenile mud snakes frequently live in ephemeral wetlands before migrating to more permanent bodies of water as adults.

9. Florida Crowned Snake

Florida Crowned Snake Tantilla relicta
Florida crowned snakes live in sandy habitats, like sand dunes and dry pine flatwoods.

©Alessandro Catenazzi / Creative Commons – License

Despite not being present in the Florida Keys or the Panhandle, Florida crowned snakes are native to Florida. With tan bodies, white bellies, and black heads, Florida crowned snakes resemble rim rock crowned snakes in appearance. However, these sand-loving species choose dry pine flatwoods and dunes as habitats. The Florida crowned snake enjoys digging into loose ground and animal-made burrows and consume spiders, snails, and worms

10. Florida Banded Water Snake

Florida-banded water snake
Found in many of the bodies of water in Florida, the Florida-banded water snake consumes everything from frogs to turtles.

©iStock.com/passion4nature

There’s a considerable possibility you’ve encountered either Florida banded water snake if you reside in the Southeast. Nonvenomous Florida banded water snakes prefer damp areas in the coastal lowlands of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Unfortunately, they are frequently killed in the wild because people mistake them for venomous cottonmouths. Much of the southeastern US is home to the cottonmouth, but it has a much wider inland range.

11. Florida Pine Snake

Florida Pine Snake
Though non-venomous, the Florida Pine snake squeezes its prey to death.

©iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

The Florida peninsula, southern South Carolina, and central Georgia are all included in the range of the Florida pine snake. These nonvenomous colubrids are native to the southeastern United States and have average lengths of 48 to 90 inches. Despite modest color variations, they are typically gray with dark brown blotches running down their backs—but not on their bellies, which are pure white. 

12. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

eastern diamondback rattlesnake curled up in grass
The eastern diamondback rattlesnake can be found in grasslands, longleaf pine flatwoods, sandy shorelines, and rolling pine slopes.

©iStock.com/NajaShots

Eastern South Carolina, Southern North Carolina, and all of Florida’s lower coastal regions are home to eastern diamondback rattlesnakes. These snakes can be found in grasslands, longleaf pine flatwoods, sandy shorelines, and rolling pine slopes. Large and very dangerous, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are venomous reptiles. In South Carolina, people hardly see or come into contact with them. It is preferable to keep at least 20 feet away from an eastern diamondback rattlesnake if you spot one. Most eastern diamondback rattlesnake attacks happen when a person steps on or bothers the snake.

13. Eastern Indigo Snake

Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) lyin in grass. The Eastern Indigo Snake is the longest snake in America.
The eastern indigo snake is the longest snake in America.

©Patrick K. Campbell/Shutterstock.com

Although they are frequently kept as pets, eastern indigo snakes are officially threatened in Florida, primarily because of humans. They have almost completely disappeared from the northern parts of Florida because of habitat degradation and fragmentation, among other factors. They are also the largest natural species in North America. Eastern indigo snakes typically weigh between 1.6 and 9.9 pounds (0.72-4.5 kg) and measure 3.6-7.7 feet (1.2-2.36 m) in length.

14. Northern Scarlet Snake

Scarlet snakes can be found in Florida, the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, the Coastal Plain, and the Piedmont regions of the southeastern United States. These snakes can also be found throughout Georgia, except for the hilly areas of northern Georgia and western South Carolina. Since they prefer dry, sandy soils and forested settings, scarlet snakes are skilled burrowers.

15. Glossy Crayfish Snake

Glossy Crayfish Snake
Crayfish snakes have extremely shiny bodies despite having keeled or ridged scales.

©Nathan A Shepard/Shutterstock.com

The Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States, stretching from eastern North Carolina to eastern Texas, is home to the glossy crayfish snake. There is also a small population of this species in eastern Virginia. Marshes, cypress swamps, wetlands, bays, ditches, and ponds or lakes with a lot of vegetation are the habitats of crayfish snakes. Additionally, certain snake species will disperse into new rivers and river systems and relocate into salty water. Crayfish snakes have extremely shiny bodies despite having keeled or ridged scales. As a result, crayfish snakes are occasionally referred to as “glossy swamp snakes.”

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Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake
© Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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