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11 Types of Black Snakes Found in Missouri

If you’ve ever seen a black snake in Missouri, you’ve probably wondered what kind of species it is and whether or not it has venom that could potentially be harmful to the people it comes into contact with. If that’s the case, you’ve found the right place! This article is all about the snakes with black coloration that can be found in the state, including some information that will help you identify them.

11 Black snakes in Missouri

1. Eastern coachwhip snake

Eastern coachwhip snake
Eastern coachwhip snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Coluber flagellum flagellum 
  • Length: 42 to 60 inches
  • Venomous: No

The eastern coachwhip snake is one of the longest snakes in Missouri that live in the southern half of the state, except for the southeast corner. Adults of this snake can grow up to 6 inches long on average. From their heads to about half of their length, eastern coachwhips can be dark brown or black, but as they get closer to their tails, they get lighter brown.

People also think that these reptiles can kill people by whipping, which isn’t true. Biting is their primary method of self-defense, though they’ll also use tail vibrations to scare off potential predators.

2. Prairie ring-necked snake

Prairie ring necked snake
Prairie ring necked snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus arnyi
  • Length: 10 to 14 inches
  • Venomous: No

The prairie ring-necked snake is known for being small, with an average length of only 14 inches. Their backs can be bluish-black, gray, or dark brown, and their bellies are yellow with small black spots on them. The yellow ring that appears around their necks inspired the name of these animals.

You can find them all over the state, but they like to live on rocky, wooded hillsides and grasslands. They mostly eat worms, slugs, and other soft-bodied small animals.

3. Western mud snake

Western Mud Snake
Western Mud Snake | Peter Paplanus | Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Farancia abacura reinwardtii
  • Length: 40 to 54 inches
  • Venomous: No

The western mud snake, also known as the hoop snake, is a non-venomous species that live in the southeastern corner of Missouri. Their bellies are a vibrant shade of red, pink, or orange, and their backs are iridescent black. The color on their bellies may go up to their sides, and their tails may look sharp but aren’t dangerous.

While aquatic salamanders make up the majority of their diet, frogs, fish, and tadpoles are also commonly eaten.

4. 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

The speckled kingsnake is a species of black snake that lives in all parts of the state. They’re beautiful snakes with black bodies that are covered with white or yellow spots. This species’ bellies are yellowish in color with some black markings.

Most of the time, this type of kingsnake lives on wooded slopes or near farm buildings. They like to hide under rocks and logs, where they eat small animals like mice and lizards. Speckled kingsnakes can also eat venomous snakes like copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes because they’re immune to their venom.

5. Eastern kingsnake

Eastern Kingsnake
Eastern Kingsnake | credit: Greg Gilbert | Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis nigra
  • Length: 35 to 48 inches
  • Venomous: No

The eastern kingsnake is another species of kingsnake that you might find in Missouri. They’re one of the black snakes you might see in the state, but they only live in the southeastern corner. Eastern kingsnakes may look like speckled kingsnakes because their bodies are black and they have yellowish or cream-colored spots all over, but the spots on the eastern kingsnakes are lesser and may even be missing to some.

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You can find these animals in open woodlands and dry, rocky hills. These species eat small animals like rodents, lizards, and venomous snakes.

6. Western pygmy rattlesnake

Western pygmy rattlesnake coiled
Western pygmy rattlesnake coiled | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Sistrurus miliarius streckeri
  • Length: 15 to 20 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

The Western pygmy rattlesnake, also called the ground rattler, is one of the smallest rattlesnakes in Missouri, with adults measuring about 20 inches on average. These snakes are grayish in color and have dark brown or black stripes on their backs.

In addition, they have brownish-red stripes along their backs and a tail with a small rattle. Western pygmy rattlesnakes are secretive animals that often hide under rocks or in the woods in their natural environments. They can be found in the eastern Missouri Ozarks and in the counties of Missouri that border Arkansas.

7. Western rat snake

Western Rat Snake on a tree
Western Rat Snake on a tree | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Pantherophis obsoletus
  • Length: 42 to 72 inches
  • Venomous: No

If you live in Missouri, you may have heard of the western rat snake, which is also called the black snake. This animal can be found all over the state, especially in wooded hillsides, riverbanks, and farm buildings.

They can climb well and have been seen climbing attics and trees. You can recognize them by their black coloring, with some of them displaying dark brown spots on their bodies. They eat rodents, birds, and eggs and kill their prey by constricting or suffocating it to death.

8. Northern cottonmouth

Northern cottonmouth
Northern cottonmouth | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Agkistrodon piscivorus 
  • Length: 30 to 42 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

One of the venomous species of black snakes you can find in Missouri is the northern cottonmouth. They’re frequently observed in the southeast corner and have a blotchy distribution in the Ozarks. Depending on where they live, you can find them in different places, like swamps and oxbow lakes in the southeast or rocky streams and river sloughs in the Ozarks.

This species is mostly black, with few or no patterns of dark bands on its body. Cottonmouths are also distinguished by their yellowish-green tails and their bites can be fatal.

9. Eastern yellow-bellied racer

Eastern yellow-bellied racer
Eastern yellow-bellied racer | image by smashtonlee05 via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Coluber constrictor flaviventris
  • Length: 30 to 50 inches
  • Venomous: No

The eastern yellow-bellied racer, also known as the blue racer, is a species of bluish-black snake found in Missouri. They often live in places like bushy fields, grasslands, and open woods, where they eat small animals that live there. These animals are quick and can quickly move through grass and brush.

When it feels threatened, an eastern yellow-bellied racer will shake its tail like a rattlesnake to scare away its enemies.

10. Eastern garter snake

Eastern garter snake on grass
Eastern garter snake on grass | image by dan_macneal via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
  • Length: 18 to 26 inches
  • Venomous: No

The eastern garter snake is a medium-sized snake that can grow to be about 26 inches long when it’s an adult. Its body is mostly black or dark brown, with three yellowish stripes running along its back and down both sides. They also have two rows of black spots on their yellowish-green bellies. Its diet consists primarily of amphibians, worms, and small fish and mice.

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You can find this reptile all over the eastern half of the state. Eastern garter snakes live in meadows and streams, where they often hide under rocks or other debris.

11. Orange-striped ribbon snake

Orange-striped ribbon snake 
An orange-striped ribbon snake  | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis proximus proximus
  • Length: 20 to 30 inches
  • Venomous: No

Orange-striped ribbon snakes are a type of snake that lives in Missouri. They’re known for their beautiful stripes and colors. These species look like garter snakes, which have wide black or dark brown stripes on their backs that are bordered by yellow or orange stripes.

Orange-striped ribbon snakes also have a yellow or orange spot on their heads, which is another way to tell them apart. They’re very common in Missouri and can be found all over the state, especially in wooded areas near water.