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How many species of snakes live in Southeastern North Carolina?

Merton Vance

There are about 30 species of snakes native to Southeastern North Carolina, according to Andy Wood, the education director for Audubon North Carolina in Wilmington.

The smaller ones are six-to eight-inches long and primarily eat worms.

“Our largest snake would be the Eastern Coachwhip snake,” Wood said. They have been known to reach seven feet in length, although finding one that large is rare, he said.

Coachwhips have a dark chocolate brown coloring along the front third of their bodies and a tannish-gray coloring on the back two-thirds of their length.

Other common snakes are black racers, rat snakes and corn snakes and a number of  water snake species.

There are six types of venomous snakes native to the region.

Two of those, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and the coral snake, are quite rare and are both protected species. Two other snakes, the scarlet king snake and scarlet snake, are often confused for coral snakes because of similar markings, Wood said.

The cottonmouth is another venomous snake found in the area, but these snakes favor isolated swampy areas and generally don’t like human activity, so they aren’t seen frequently, Wood said.

The non-venomous brown water snake is frequently confused for a cottonmouth, according to a guide to North Carolina snakes provided by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.

The other venomous snakes in the area are copperheads, pygmy rattlesnakes and canebrake rattlesnakes.

Here’s a link to a N.C. Cooperative Extension Service site with more information and photos of snakes found around here:


User-contributed question by:
Amy Sliger

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2 Responses to “ How many species of snakes live in Southeastern North Carolina?”

  1. On March 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm JMurr wrote:

    I recently found a 12″ snake in back yard.
    Its body is brown on top, with an orange belly, has a lateral grey-silver strip on each side of its body, dark eyes and was fast moving.
    Any help on ID?
    Thanks JMurr

  2. On March 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm Jim Ware wrote:

    That sounds like a redbelly watersnake. Take a look here: http://www.bio.davidson.edu/projects/herpcons/herps_of_nc/snakes/Nerery/Ner_ery.html

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