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8 Types of Black Snakes Found in New Jersey

If you live in New Jersey, it’s possible you’ve never encountered any black snakes. Then again, there are 22 species of these reptiles found in the state, and almost half of them are black or have black colorations in their bodies. With that in mind, and depending on where you live in the state, black snakes in New Jersey may be a common sight for you.

Either way, this article will look at several species of black snakes in the state of New Jersey, and give you some facts that’ll help you tell them apart.

Collage black snakes in New Jersey

8 Black snakes in New Jersey

1. Northern black racer

Northern black racer
Northern black racer | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Coluber constrictor constrictor
  • Length: 34 to 77 inches
  • Venomous: No

If you live in a rural or semi-urban area of New Jersey, the northern black racer is probably something you’re familiar with. The adults of this species are entirely black, but the juveniles can have a more grayish appearance with brown blotches; as a result, they’re frequently mistaken for timber rattlesnakes.

They’re extremely fast snakes that are also capable of climbing up trees and into attics. Vibrating their tails like a rattlesnake is also a defense mechanism these snakes use when they feel threatened.

2. Eastern garter snake

Eastern garter snake on grass
All black eastern garter snake on grass | image by dan_macneal via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
  • Length: 18 to 51 inches
  • Venomous: No

There are many species of snakes in New Jersey, but the eastern garter snake is the most common and can even be found in homes. They like to live in places with plenty of vegetation and water, like forests, fields, and meadows.

Eastern garter snakes typically have three yellowish stripes that run down their backs and sides against a background color ranging from olive to brown to black. However, sometimes they can come in an all dark coloring like the one above.

These creatures are one of the first snakes to emerge in spring, and they eat various animals, including rodents, fish, and worms.

3. Northern pine snake

Northern pine snake
Northern pine snake | image by cromulo via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus
  • Length: 48 to 100 inches
  • Venomous: No

One of the snakes you can find in New Jersey is the northern pine snake, which has a grayish ground color and black or dark brown blotches on its body. This non-venomous snake lives in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens and is one of the threatened species in the state.

Sand habitats are the only places where these large snakes can be found, and they can reach lengths ranging from 48 to 100 inches when they reach maturity. Although northern pine snakes prefer to burrow underground, they have been seen climbing trees when necessary.

4. Black rat snake

black rat snakes
Black rat snakes
  • Scientific Name: Pantherophis obsoletus
  • Length: 34 to 101 inches
  • Venomous: No

New Jersey is home to several different types of snakes, the largest of which is the black rat snake. It’s common to spot these reptiles in urban areas and other human-populated locations. They’re thicker than the racers, and the juveniles of this species are often mistaken for timber rattlesnakes because of their similarity in coloration.

Adults, on the other hand, have a uniformly black coloration with a white chin and throat as well as a white or light yellow belly. Rat snakes will climb trees and into attics to get to their prey, which consists primarily of rodents and also eggs.

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5. Eastern ribbon snake

Eastern ribbon snake
Eastern ribbon snake | image by John J. Mosesso via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sauritus sauritus
  • Length: 18 to 40 inches
  • Venomous: No

Eastern ribbon snakes are medium-sized reptiles that live in New Jersey. They’re extremely common and can be found in a variety of semiaquatic habitats, such as bogs, swamps, and streams, in particular.

Ribbon snakes are known for having stripes that are very similar to those seen on garter snakes. However, in contrast to garter snakes, ribbon snakes are much more slender and have longer tails. The coloration of their stripes is yellow, while their background color is either black or dark brown.

6. Northern redbelly snake

Northern redbelly snake
Northern redbelly snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata
  • Length: 8 to 16 inches
  • Venomous: No

Although they’re one of the more common species of black snake found in the state of New Jersey, northern redbelly snakes aren’t commonly encountered by many people. They’re only small reptiles that can be brown, gray, or black in color, and have reddish bellies along with three light spots on the backs of their necks.

They’re primarily found in flowerbeds, gardens, and other moist habitats, and their primary food sources are earthworms and slugs. Because of this, they’re often found under logs and rocks, where their prey is plentiful.

7. Southern Ringneck snake

Ringneck snake
Ringneck snake | credit: TheAlphaWolf | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus punctatus
  • Length: 7 to 18 inches
  • Venomous: No

The southern ring-necked snake is a small, thin species of snake that you can find all over the state. They can be found in woodlands and rocky areas, but their habitat of choice is typically damp environments. Southern ring-necked snakes are a species known for their extreme secrecy, and they frequently hide beneath rocky or woody debris on the ground.

In general, they have a black coloration, but their bellies are yellow, and they have a series of black half-moons running down the center of their bodies. These reptiles also have a yellow ring at their necks, and this ring has dark marks on it, which helps distinguish them from other species of ringneck.

8. Eastern hognose snake

Eastern hognose snake
Eastern hognose snake | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Heterodon platirhinos
  • Length: 20 to 45 inches
  • Venomous: No

The eastern hognose snake is one of the animals that can be found in the state, except for metropolitan areas. They’re typically found in sandy environments, and it’s possible to recognize them by the upright snouts that they use to burrow in the sand.

The colors of these reptiles vary and can be grayish or yellowish with brown or black patches. When an eastern hognose snake senses that it’s in danger, it’ll typically imitate other venomous snakes by making an attack position. However, if the threat persists, the snake will also play dead in order to prevent the predator from attacking it.