Snakes come in all sorts of different colors and patterns. Different colors and patterns can be beneficial for snakes, some allow for snakes to camouflage into their surroundings better while some colors or patterns are a warning to potential predators to not mess with them. In this article however, we will be discussing black or mostly black snakes found in the state of North Carolina.
North Carolina is home to 37 different species of snake. Six of these species are venomous, and several of these 37 species are black, or mostly black.
This can make it difficult to tell them apart, which is why it is so important to never pick up or approach a snake that you can not accurately identify. Making a mistake could be dangerous!
10 black snakes in North Carolina
1. Black Racer
Scientific name: Coluber constrictor
Size: 20-60 in.
It is no surprise why Black Racers are called Black Racers. They are all black with a light gray belly, and the underside of their chin is lighter in color in contrast to the rest of their body.
These snakes are very slender and move very quickly, hence the name racer. Black Racers are common throughout much of the Eastern United States and is found in many different habitat types- including more populated areas.
2. Black Rat snake (Eastern Rat snake)
Scientific name: Pantherophis alleghaniensis
Size: 36-72 in.
The Black Rat Snake, also known as the Eastern Rat snake is a variable species. In some parts of its range, like in Florida, this snake comes in shades of mustard yellow or burnt orange.
But in other parts of its range, like in North Carolina, these snakes are black or very dark brown with a checkerboard pattern on the belly. Black Rat snakes can be found in many different habitat types and are arboreal, spending much of their time up high.
Scientific name: Masticophus flagellum
Size: 50-90 in.
Coachwhips, like Black or Eastern Rat snakes are another species that vary in color. In some parts of their range, these snakes are pink! But in North Carolina, Coachwhips are black and dark brown.
They tend to be darker in color towards the head, and then their color lightens closer to the tail. Coachwhips can only be found in the Southeastern portion of the state, and are actually the longest snake found in North Carolina.
4. Mud snake
Scientific name: Farancia abacura
Size: 40-54 in.
While the Mud Snake sounds like a dull, drab snake, there is nothing dull about them! On their back or dorsal side, these snakes are all black, however these snakes also have a bright red and black striped underbelly that they may show off when threatened. Mud snakes are only distributed throughout eastern North Carolina where they inhabit swamps, marshes, and other wet habitats.
5. Carolina Swamp snake (Black Swamp snake)
Scientific name: Liodaytes pygaea
Size: 10-15 in.
Like the Mud snake, the Carolina Swamp snake is a mostly black snake that is found in wet or otherwise aquatic habitats like swamps and marshes. These snakes are all black with a brilliantly red or red/orange colored belly. They have a small range in North Carolina and are only found along the eastern coast of the state.
6. Queen snake
Scientific name: Regina septemvittata
Size: 15-24 in.
The Queen snake is another variable snake. Some individuals are darker brown, or gray while some look nearly black. Queen snakes have a white belly that stretches around part of the sides of their body, almost looking like a white stripe along both sides of their body. Queen snakes have specific habitat requirements and are only found in areas where there is access to running, clean freshwater.
7. Ringneck snake
Scientific name: Diadophis punctatus
Size: 10-15 in.
Ringneck snakes are aptly named for the small orange, red or yellow band around their neck directly behind the head. Ringnecks tend to be dusty gray or black, with brightly colored yellow, orange and red bellies.
Ringneck snakes will curl up their tail, displaying part of their brightly colored underside when threatened. In North Carolina, Ringnecks can be found in habitat types that have plenty of moist soil, like woodlands or around streams.
8. Worm snake
Scientific name: Carphophis amoenus
Size: 7.5-11 in.
The Worm snake is a fossorial snake, or snake that spends much of its time underground, hence the name Worm snake. Worm snakes are dark brown or almost black in color, with a light brown or dusty pink belly. Worm snakes are hard to find due to their underground lifestyle and live in wooded areas.
9. Timber Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus horridus
Size: 36-60 in.
Timber Rattlesnakes are not necessarily known for being a black snake, however they vary greatly in coloration and patterning. Normally, Timber Rattlesnakes are a lighter brown with darker brown bands along the body.
However, in North Carolina, there are also black morphs, where they are virtually patternless and are almost completely black. They can be found in the mountains or coastal plains.
Scientific name: Agkistrodon piscivorus
Size: 24-48 in.
The Cottonmouth is another species of venomous snake found in North Carolina that varies in color and pattern. They can be light brown with dark brown bands, or they can be almost entirely brown or black.
Cottonmouths are known for their defensive display, where they will gape their mouth open, showing you the inside of their cotton-white mouth. Cottonmouths are found along the east coast of the state.