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11 Species of Black Snakes in Indiana (Pictures)

There are a variety of habitats in Indiana, including caves, lakes, wetlands, and prairies, but their primary habitat is the deciduous forest. This allowed 32 types of snakes to thrive in the state, but only four of them are venomous. With this information, it’s hard not to wonder what kind of species the black snakes in Indiana are, especially the ones you might run into.

In this article, you’ll learn all about some of the black snakes that can be found in the state, as well as some information on how to identify them.

11 Black snakes in Indiana

1. Eastern hognose snake

Eastern hognose snake
Eastern hognose snake | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Heterodon platirhinos
  • Length: 40 to 54 inches
  • Venomous: No

The eastern hognose snakes are animals found in large sand deposits and dry, open woods and forest edges. While some of these reptiles are a solid black color, others can be found in shades of yellow, green, or gray with patterns of darker colors on their backs and can be found all over the state of Indiana.

The snouts of hognose snakes, from which they get their common name, are turned up and pointed, making them easy to spot in the wild. When an eastern hognose snake feels threatened, it’ll roll over on its back and act like it’s dead. It’ll also make a striking motion to scare away its predators.

2. Southern black racer

Southern black racer
Southern black racer | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Coluber constrictor priapus
  • Length: 20 to 56 inches
  • Venomous: No

One of the black snakes you can find in Indiana is the Southern black racer. This species is restricted to the state’s southern region, where it inhabits habitats such as open woodlands, forests, and sandhills.  These creatures are completely black, and they’re most active when the weather is warm. They’re predators of a wide variety of small creatures, including mice, lizards, frogs, and birds.

It’s a common misconception that Southern black racers chase after people because of their quick movements, but this behavior is actually associated with courtship.

3. Massasauga rattlesnake

Massasauga rattlesnake
Massasauga rattlesnake | image: Peter Paplanus | Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
  • Length: 18 to 30 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

The Massasauga rattlesnake is a venomous snake that you can find in northern Indiana. It’s a medium-sized snake, ranging from 18 to 30 inches in length. It has a gray body that’s spotted with dark brown or black spots, and on either side, there are three rows of small dark spots.

Even though massasaugas use their venom to kill their prey, these snakes are aware of the presence of humans and try to stay out of sight whenever possible. They hunt small mammals and birds in their marshy, swampy habitats.

4. Eastern garter snake

Eastern garter snake
Eastern garter snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
  • Length: 18 to 26 inches
  • Venomous: No

The length of an adult eastern garter snake can reach up to 26 inches, making it a medium-sized reptile with a slender build. They’re widespread throughout the state of Indiana and can typically be found along paths, in meadows, and by creeks. The name of this species comes from the fact that it has a body that’s black with three yellow stripes, giving it the appearance of a garter.

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Garter snakes consume worms, insects, and small animals by capturing them with their teeth and consuming them whole.

5. Northern ringneck snake

Northern ringneck snake on the ground
Northern ringneck snake on the ground | image by Cody Hough via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
  • Length: 9 to 15 inches
  • Venomous: No

One type of black snake that lives in Indiana is the northern ringneck snake. They can be found throughout the state and are known for being secretive, hiding beneath logs or rotting barks. Snakes of this species range in color from bluish-gray to black, and all of them have bright yellow or orange rings around their necks.

They rarely bite, and when these animals feel threatened, these ringneck snakes will twist their bodies and release a foul-smelling musk in order to scare away their predators.

6. Black rat snake

black rat snakes
black rat snakes
  • Scientific Name: Pantherophis obsoletus
  • Length: 36 to 72 inches
  • Venomous: No

The black rat snake is one of Indiana’s most common snakes and can be found in a wide range of habitats. Juveniles have a grayish hue with brown blotches, while adults are glossy black with a white chin, lips, and throat. These snakes can climb well and typically shed their skins in sheltered places like attics and trees.

It’s a common sight in farms and other buildings, where it feeds on rodents and even eggs. It’s common for people to mistake these snakes for black racers, but rat snakes have a white belly or a black-and-white pattern.

7. Fox snake

Western fox snake
Western fox snake | image by Davis Harder via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Pantherophis ramspotti
  • Length: 36 to 66 inches
  • Venomous: No

The fox snakes are relatively uncommon in the state of Indiana, but they can still be found in the state’s northwest corner. Fox snakes get their name from the similarity between their scent and that of foxes when they feel threatened.

Fox snakes range in color from light to dark brown, and they have bold black markings all over their bodies. They prefer to live in damp areas, and their diet consists of rodents, amphibians, and eggs.

Fox snakes are often mistaken for Massasauga rattlesnakes because they look similar and rattle their tails when they feel threatened, just like rattlesnakes do.

8. Black kingsnake

Eastern black kingsnake
Eastern black kingsnake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis nigra
  • Length: 35 to 48 inches
  • Venomous: No

Black kingsnakes are a non-venomous species of snake that can be found in Indiana, particularly in the southwestern part of the state. The juveniles of this species have a dash of white and cream coloration that’s most noticeable on their bodies, but the adults of this species are completely black.

You can find them in wet areas like meadows and along streams, where they can be found eating rodents, turtle eggs, and snakes. This species is also recognized for having a high level of venom tolerance, which allows them to consume venomous snakes as part of their diet.

9. Bullsnake

bull snake slithering
Bullsnake | image by Mike Lewinski via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Pituophis catenifer sayi
  • Length: 48 to 72 inches
  • Venomous: No

If you live in Indiana, you have probably heard of a bullsnake, which is a species of snake that isn’t very common throughout the state but can typically be discovered in the state’s northwest corner. Bullsnakes are nonvenomous and can be distinguished by their brown bodies with black spots.

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These animals can get as long as 6 feet, and the longest one ever seen was 8 feet and 4 inches long. As with other snakes, bullsnakes tend to be defensive toward humans, so it‘s best to leave them alone in the natural environment.

10. Copperbelly water snake

Copperbelly water snake
Copperbelly water snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta
  • Length: 36 to 60 inches
  • Venomous: No

The copperbelly water snake is a species of aquatic snake that‘s well-known for having two colors: black on its upper parts and reddish-orange on its underparts. This species of true water snake is currently threatened with extinction, but you can still find a few in the southern and northeast corners of Indiana. Copperbelly snakes aren’t venomous, and when fully grown, they can reach lengths of between 3 and 5 feet.

They commonly inhabit shallow wetland areas, and their diet typically consists of amphibians, small fish, and crayfish.

11. Western cottonmouth

Western cottonmouth
Western cottonmouth | image by Peter Paplanu via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma
  • Length: 30 to 42 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

One of the venomous black snakes found in Indiana is the western cottonmouth. However, the snakes’ status in the state is currently listed as endangered. Their habitats include rivers, lakes, marshes, swamps, and creeks, and they can be identified by their yellowish-olive to black body coloration with black crossbands throughout their bodies.

Even though cottonmouths aren’t aggressive species and only occasionally bite, these snakes are still considered to be extremely dangerous because they’re highly venomous, and the venom they produce can cause serious illness or even death in animals and people.

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