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12 Species of Green Snakes in North Carolina

North Carolina is home to many kinds of reptiles because of its diverse ecosystem, including subtropical, temperate, and boreal habitats. With 37 different snake species in the state, it’s hard not to wonder if there are green snakes in North Carolina.

In this article, we’ll not only address this question, but also introduce you to the various green snake species found throughout the state.

12 Green snakes in North Carolina

Some of the greenish snakes that can be found in the state have a dark olive or green coloration, while others can be a brighter shade of green.

1. Smooth green snake

Smooth green snake
Smooth green snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Opheodrys vernalis

The smooth green snake, also called the grass snake, is a small, thin reptile that only gets up to 20 inches long as an adult. They’re known for their bright green bodies with yellow or white bellies.

It’s often found in marshes, meadows, along the edges of streams, and in open woods, where it can camouflage in green areas. During the warm months, this species is active both during the day and at night, and during the colder months, they hibernate in groups.

2. Rough green snake

Rough green snake
Rough green snake | Photo by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Opheodrys aestivus

The Rough Green snake is a common type of green-colored snake in North Carolina. They’re small, non-venomous, and have rough scales, which is how they got their name.

Even when handled, these animals are very gentle. They’re also very good at climbing, which is why you often see them in trees.

Camouflage is one of the many skills that help rough green snakes thrive in their natural environments, which are usually areas near water sources where they can hunt for spiders and insects.

3. Eastern diamondback rattlesnake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake F. Muhammad from Pixabay
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus adamanteus

The Eastern diamondback rattlesnake is a particularly large and venomous snake that you can find in North Carolina. The average length of this rattlesnake is between 7 and 8 feet, and it’s widely considered as the most dangerous of all the snakes native to the US.

Their name comes from the diamond-shaped markings on their backs, and their color patterns can vary and include greenish-olive, brown, and gray colors. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are most likely to be found in sandy pine flat woods in the southeastern part of North Carolina. While these creatures may not be aggressive, their large size and long fangs make them a serious threat.

4. Eastern garter snake

Eastern garter snake
Eastern garter snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

The eastern garter snake is one of the snakes you might see in the state with a greenish color. They live in almost all of North Carolina’s habitats but are most common near the state’s wetlands.

Their average length is about 26 inches, and females are larger than males. Their bodies are a dark color like brown, black, or green, and they have a white stripe running down the middle.

Eastern garter snakes also have yellow or white stripes down their sides. These snakes don’t have venom, so if these animals feel threatened, they’ll just try to get away or give off a bad smell.

5. Glossy crayfish snake

Glossy crayfish snake
Glossy crayfish snake | credit: Ashley Wahlberg (Tubbs) | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Liodytes rigida rigida
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You can only find the glossy crayfish snake in some parts of the state, but it’s also one of the greener snakes out there. It’s a species of reptile whose name comes from the color of its scales, which range from shiny brown to olive.

Crayfish are also a big part of their diet, and their rough scales help them catch these aquatic animals. They’re usually found in the lower Coastal Plain and are so secretive that not much is known about them.

6. Southern ring-necked snake

Southern ring necked snake
Southern ring necked snake | image by TheAlphaWolf via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus punctatus

The southern ring-necked snake is an interesting species of non-venomous snake that can be solid olive green, brown, bluish-gray, or smoky black in color. This slender animal can be found all over North Carolina, usually in flowerbeds.

Most of the time, ring-necked snakes eat earthworms and salamanders that they stun with toxins in their saliva. However, these toxins don’t hurt people. One thing that makes this species unique is their yellow or orange belly and the golden ring around their necks.

7. Banded water snake

Banded water snake on log
Banded water snake on log | image by amdurso via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia fasciata

If you see a snake in North Carolina with a greenish-gray or brown body and crossbands on its back, it’s probably a banded water snake. This species lives mostly in bodies of water like lakes, marshes, ponds, and streams.

They also consume aquatic animals such as frogs, fish, and salamanders that live very close to the water. This water snake frequently hybridizes with northern water snakes and can be found in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina.

8. Queen snake

Queensnake
Queensnake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Regina septemvittata

The Queen snakes are semi-aquatic reptiles that can be found in the state’s rocky streams and small rivers, especially in the mountains. They resemble garter snakes in appearance, with a green/olive, gray, or dark brown body and a light stripe down each side. Juveniles may also have a stripe on their backs that fades as they get older.

When a queen snake senses danger, it’ll typically drop into the water. These species rarely bite and instead try to spin or secrete musk when handled.

9. Plain-bellied water snake

Plain-bellied water snake basking
Plain-bellied water snake basking | image by nloveland via iNaturalist
  • Scientific Name: Nerodia erythrogaster

The plain-bellied water snake is another species of true water snake with greenish coloration that you can find in North Carolina. These are big, heavy reptiles that live mostly in water, like lakes, ponds, rivers, and floodplains.

They can also be black, olive green, or greenish-gray, and their undersides range from plain red to yellow. Unlike most other water snakes, this one will leave the water and slither away on land if it feels threatened.

10. Speckled Racer Snake

Speckled racer snake
Speckled racer snake | image by Ashley Wahlberg (Tubbs) via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Drymobius margaritiferus

The Speckled Racer Snake is a non-venomous colubrid snake native to the Americas and a common sight in North Carolina. It is a small to the medium-sized snake, typically measuring between 2 and 4 feet in length.

The racer snake is dark brown to black, with beautiful blue and yellow spotting all around its body, giving it a magnificent greenish appearance. Its belly is often green or yellow. Its scientific name, margaritiferous, is a Latin word meaning “pearl-bearing.” It refers to the reptile’s pearl-like spots on its dorsal scales.

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It’s commonly found in open fields and woodlands, where it preys on rodents and other small animals. When threatened, the snake will often Anna coils and strike aggressively. Although the Racer Snake is not venomous, it can deliver a painful bite if handled carelessly.

This snake is oviparous, and it can lay over 8 eggs at the end of spring or the beginning of summer. Their eggs hatch after two months, and the new hatchlings are often 15cm long. The speckled racers often reach adulthood within 2-3 years.

11. Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern hognose snake playing dead
Eastern hognose snake playing dead
  • Scientific Name: Heterodon platirhinos

Also known as the spreading address, the Eastern Hognose snake can be brown, red, green, orange, black, or gray, depending on its locality. Some snakes even have a combination of all these colors on their bodies with blotches.

These snakes are non-venomous to humans but mildly venomous to their prey. They grow up to 28 inches with a conspicuous upside-down snout. Eastern hognose snake often reside in fields, woodlands, and coastal areas with loose sandy soil. They like burrowing into the ground to hunt for their prey, which includes toads, frogs, and small mammals.

The female Eastern Hognose Snake lays anywhere from 10 to 30 eggs in early to mid-summer. The young hatchlings are about eight inches long and have a bright green tail tip. As they mature, their tail tips darken and eventually turn black.

When threatened, the eastern hognose snake raises its head, flattens its neck, and hisses from the ground like a cobra. This helps deter its predators and makes it seem more dangerous than it actually is. Despite this, the eastern hognose snake is not a threat to humans, and it rarely bites. It can also be kept as a pet.

12. Rat Snake

black rat snake
credit: Shenandoah National Park
  • Scientific name: Pantherophis obsoletus

Rat snakes are common large snakes found in North Carolina. They have many different color patterns, depending on where they live. For example, rat snakes that live on coastal plains may be piedmont to greenish-yellow in color with dark brown stripes, while those that live in the mountains are solid black in color.

Young rat snakes have dark brown blotches on a gray or light brown background. As they age, the blotched pattern changes to the adult color pattern.

Rat snakes’ bellies usually have white and black checkered markings and are relatively heavy-bodied. Their bodies are not round but rather shaped like a loaf of bread.

They are good climbers and can often be found around human dwellings. They do well in well-established neighborhoods, nesting in basements, attics, and even unused chimneys. Their diet consists of rodents, birds, and eggs. Because they often feed on chicken eggs, they are also known as “chicken snakes.”

Rat snakes typically mate in the spring, and the female lays anywhere from 6–28 eggs in mid-summer. The young hatchlings are about eight inches long and have a green tail tip. As they mature, their While they are quite docile, they may bite and release foul-smelling musk if they feel threatened.