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12 Black Snakes in Oklahoma (Pictures)

Anyone who has traveled to Oklahoma knows the state is a wonderful place to experience the great outdoors. They have beautiful natural landscapes with plenty of prairie as well as forest, and a land that is rich with diverse wildlife. You may have even encountered some black snakes in Oklahoma, as it is home to at least 46 types of snakes.

12 Black snakes in Oklahoma

It’s natural to wonder if there’s a way to tell the different species of black snakes apart. Lucky for you, that’s what this article is for. Listed below are some of Oklahoma’s most common black snake species. Let’s see how easily you can tell them apart!

1. Eastern racer

North american racer
North american racer | image by arthur-windsor via Flickr | CC BY 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Coluber constrictor 
  • Length: 24 to 70 inches
  • Venomous: No

Eastern racers are a type of reptile with smooth scales, black background, and a yellowish to cream-colored belly. Except for the eastern part of the state and the Coastal Plain, they can be found throughout Oklahoma.

During the months of March through October, you can spot this species out and about during the day, hunting for prey like lizards, rodents, snakes, and eggs. Apart from coachwhip snakes, they’re among the snakes that move very quickly when approached.

2. Ringneck snake

Ringneck snake
Ringneck snake | credit: TheAlphaWolf | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus 
  • Length: 10 to 14 inches
  • Venomous: No

It’s common to see small ring-necked snakes in just about any terrestrial habitat in Oklahoma. They’re a shy species that prefer to hide under rocks and other debris, and their diet consists of worms, slugs, and various species of small snakes and lizards.

This species is small and has a black, olive, or gray back and a yellow, orange, or red underbelly. The orange to red ring around their necks is what gave them their names, as it sets them apart from other snakes.

3. Black rat snake

black rat snake
credit: Shenandoah National Park
  • Scientific Name: Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta
  • Length: 42 to 84 inches
  • Venomous: No

One of the black snakes you might see in Oklahoma is the black rat snake. They’re entirely black and have glossy scales, with a light-colored belly. In addition to their black coloring, these snakes can be identified by their white chins and throats.

In Oklahoma, you can see them hunting for rodents, frogs, and young birds in fields, woods, and farmlands. They can also swim and climb well, which helps them hunt and stay alive in the wild.

4. Eastern hognose snake

Eastern hognose snake basking
Eastern hognose snake basking
  • Scientific Name: Heterodon platirhinos
  • Length: 20 to 30 inches
  • Venomous: No

The eastern hognose snake is one of the most active and harmless snakes in Oklahoma. They’re often seen in sandy areas, woods, and farmlands all over the state, except in the counties in the western Panhandle.

They can be black, brown, or green, and their snouts are straight up, which is how these animals got their names. When these snakes feel threatened, they hiss or flatten their heads to look like cobras. If they’re cornered, they’ll play dead and give off an unpleasant musk.

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

One type of snake that you can find all over the state is the speckled kingsnake. Speckled kingsnakes are moderately large and black, with irregular yellow markings on each scale, giving them a speckled appearance.

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On average, they can grow up to 48 inches long, but some can grow as long as 72 inches. Speckled kingsnakes can be spotted throughout the state from spring until late fall, becoming increasingly active as temperatures rise. They’re also known for their ability to eat snakes that are larger than them.

6. Coachwhip snake

Eastern coachwhip snake
Eastern coachwhip snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Masticophis flagellum flagellum
  • Length: 42 to 82 inches
  • Venomous: No

The eastern coachwhip snake is a unique-looking reptile with two colors as its background. Their heads and upper bodies are black, but these reptiles turn reddish-brown toward the end of their bodies. Eastern coachwhips can grow to a maximum of 82 inches in length, making them one of the longest snake species in Oklahoma.

Their name comes from the way the scales on their tails look like a braided rope. Eastern coachwhips are among the fastest snakes in Oklahoma, and when they feel threatened, they’ll hide in trees or burrows.

7. Orange-striped ribbon snake

Orange-striped ribbon snake
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

The Orange-striped ribbon snakes are easy to spot because they have three light-colored stripes running down their black bodies. But this species is different from other ribbon snakes because the stripe on its back is orange instead of yellowish or whitish in color.

Orange-striped ribbon snakes are most likely to be found in habitats that are located in close proximity to bodies of water, such as riverbanks, swamps, sloughs, and ponds. They can also be found across most of the state, except the west side of the panhandle.

8. Plains garter snake

Plains garter snake
Plains garter snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis radix 
  • Length: 20 to 36 inches
  • Venomous: No

The Plains garter snake is a harmless, dark-colored snake that can be spotted in Oklahoma. They can be found in habitats close to water sources, such as damp woodlands, meadows, marshes, farms, and wooded parks. Their range extends from the Panhandle to the state’s North Central region.

Similar to ribbon snakes, these reptiles have dark bodies and bright yellow stripes along their backs and sides. For easy identification, you can look for the dark black vertical lines on the labial scales of their mouth.

9. Timber rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnake
Timber rattlesnake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus horridus
  • Length: 35 to 54 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

The Timber rattlesnakes are among the venomous black snakes found in Oklahoma, and you can spot them all the way from the state’s north-central region to its south-central and southeastern regions. These pit vipers have a thick build, a golden brown base color, broad dark bands across their bodies, and a velvety black tail with a rattle at the end.

They can inject venom into their prey and predators, and they shake their tails when they see an approaching threat.

10. Desert kingsnake

Desert kingsnake
Desert kingsnake | image by siwnaturalist via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis splendida
  • Length: 36 to 48 inches
  • Venomous: No

The desert kingsnake is characterized by its glossy appearance, which is achieved by its black coloring with yellowish speckles. They’re a subspecies of kingsnakes, and like kingsnakes, they eat a wide range of animals, including venomous snakes.

They average about 4 feet in length, but some have been recorded at over 6 feet in length. Whenever they feel threatened, these animals typically play dead, hoping their predators will leave them alone.

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11. Western pigmy rattlesnake

Western pygmy rattlesnake
Western pygmy rattlesnake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Sistrurus miliarius streckeri
  • Length: 15 to 24 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

The western pigmy rattlesnake is a type of venomous snake that you can find from the Central to the Southeast parts of the state. These reptiles are the smallest rattlesnake species in Oklahoma. They range in color from gray to pink, and their backs have black spots running down the middle.

Western pigmy rattlesnakes also have a faint reddish-brown stripe along the black blotches. This species, also known as “ground rattler,” lives in a wide variety of ecosystems, including pine-hardwood forests, cypress pond margins, and wetland areas.

12. Red-sided garter snake

Head of red sided garter snake
Head of red sided garter snake
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis
  • Length: 22 to 54 inches
  • Venomous: No

Oklahoma is home to a unique subspecies of garter snakes known as the red-sided garter snake. Like other garter snakes, the ground color of these reptiles is usually dark green to black, and they have three yellowish stripes. However, this subspecies is distinguished by the presence of red or orange bars between its yellow stripes.

They can reach a maximum height of 54 inches and are typically discovered in wooded, shrubby, wetland, field, and rocky regions.