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11 Black Snakes in Mississippi (With Pictures)

As a result of its abundance of both freshwater and saltwater wetlands, the state of Mississippi has become home to a wide variety of animals that thrive in wet environments, such as snakes. In fact, there are at least 55 different snake species in the state, with 6 of them being venomous. These reptiles can be many different colors, and black snakes in Mississippi are no exception.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common black-colored snakes found in this state and provide some background info on them.

11 Black snakes in Mississippi

1. Western cottonmouth

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

One of the most widespread snakes in Mississippi is the western cottonmouth. They’re also called “water moccasins,” and because their bodies and colors are so similar to those of other water snakes, they’re often mistaken for them. But this cottonmouth is a venomous species that’ll only bite if it feels threatened.

These snakes like to live near water and can be found in almost all of the state’s aquatic habitats. Their bodies range in color from yellowish olive to black, and they have black crossbands that run the length of their bodies.

2. Banded water snake

Banded water snake resting
Banded water snake resting
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia fasciata fasciata
  • Length: 22 to 36 inches
  • Venomous: No

The banded water snake is one of the many black snakes that live in the wetlands of Mississippi. This harmless, medium-sized animal lives in the rivers and streams of Mississippi, and on warm days it can be seen sunbathing on floating debris and vegetation. This snake has bands of black, maroon, and brown across its gray to reddish-brown body.

Banded water snakes are active day and night, hunting for aquatic prey such as fish, frogs, and other smaller animals.

3. Black rat snake

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

If you live in Mississippi, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a black rat snake. This animal populates a wide variety of environments, including forests, grasslands, and even abandoned buildings. They’re mostly black, but their chins, lips, and throats may feature white coloration. The longest known black rat snake measured 101 inches in length, making it one of the longest rat snake species in the United States.

These rat snakes typically consume rodents and even eggs, which explains why they’re commonly found in abandoned buildings and farms.

4. Eastern coachwhip snake

Eastern coachwhip snake
Eastern coachwhip snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Masticophis flagellum flagellum
  • Length: 48 to 72 inches
  • Venomous: No

The eastern coachwhip snake is a fast-moving, slender snake that can reach lengths of 4 to 6 feet. They can be found in a wide range of body shades, from black and tan to dark brown. Also, their black heads may fade to a brownish hue as they approach the end of their bodies.

It’s common to encounter these whipsnakes in the open pine savannas of south Mississippi, particularly in the vicinity of De Soto National Forest. They also got their name from the scales near their tails, which look like braided cords.

5. Speckled kingsnake

Speckled kingsnake
Speckled kingsnake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis holbrooki
  • Length: 36 to 48 inches
  • Venomous: No
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The speckled kingsnake is one of the most common snakes in Mississippi, and you can find it throughout and outside of the northeast corner of the state. The name “speckled kingsnake” comes from the animal’s characteristic coloring: a black background with yellow or cream spots all over its body.

Although they’re most commonly found in wetland areas, you can also spot them in wooded areas, prairies, and even coastal plains. In terms of diet, they primarily consume birds, reptiles, and amphibians that live near or on the ground.

6. Dusky pygmy rattlesnake

dusky pygmy rattlesnake
Dusky pygmy rattlesnake| image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Sistrurus miliarius barbouri
  • Length: 12 to 24 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

The dusky pygmy rattlesnake is a small but venomous species of rattlesnake that can be found in the southeastern United States, including in the state of Mississippi. They’re common throughout the state and can be found in places like palmetto stands, sandhills, and piney forests. These creatures are usually grayish in color, with black and reddish-brown spots down the middle of their backs.

Although venomous, these animals aren’t aggressive creatures and their bites are rarely fatal, though they can cause severe pain.

7. Mississippi ring-necked snake

Mississippi ring necked snake
Mississippi ring necked snake | image by deanstavrides via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus stictogenys
  • Length: 10 to 17 inches
  • Venomous: No

The Mississippi ring-necked snake is a small and slender species of snake. They have a dark gray body, a black head, and a golden ring at their necks, which is where they get their names.

You can typically find this ring-necked snake in damp woodlands and meadows, where it hides beneath rocks, logs, or other debris that has fallen to the ground. Worms, slugs, salamanders, and smaller snake species are some of the prey that they hunt here.

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 one of the black snakes you might see in the very northeast corner of the state. Common habitats for these animals include edges of forests and marshes, open fields, and highway medians.

Adults of this species are completely black, but juveniles of the same species display a sprinkling of white and cream across their bodies. You can tell them apart from black racers by the bright spots on their sides. These animals are also well-known for their high venom tolerance, which allows them to include venomous snakes in their diet.

9. 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 most eye-catching snakes in the state is the southern black racer. They have a distinct white chin and a deep black or bluish-black body. This species’ juveniles may have more intricate coloration and patterning than adults.

The heads of these snakes will occasionally poke out of the grass as they hunt for frogs, small snakes, lizards, and even birds. Whenever these reptiles feel threatened, they mimic a rattlesnake by vibrating their tails.

10. Western mud snake

Western Mud Snake
Western Mud Snake | Peter Paplanus | Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Farancia abacura reinwardtii
  • Length: 20 to 72 inches
  • Venomous: No

The nonvenomous western mud snake is widespread along the Gulf Coast and can even be found in Mississippi. The upper parts of these mud snakes are black and shiny, while the lower parts are reddish and have bars extending to their bodies’ sides.

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They live in shallow water and other wet environments with muddy bottoms, like marshes, bogs, and swamps, where they eat frogs, tadpoles, small fish, and aquatic salamanders.

11. Black pine snake

Black pine snake
Black pine snake | image by John Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Scientific Name: Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi
  • Length: 48 to 74 inches
  • Venomous: No

Living in Mississippi’s pine forests is the harmless black pine snake. This particular species can grow to be anywhere between 48 and 74 inches in length and has a solid black body.

The juveniles may have a lighter brown coloration overall, with black bellies that become darker in color as the animals mature. It consumes small mammals by constriction, which means that they wrap their strong bodies around their prey until they suffocate and then swallow them whole.

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