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12 Non-venomous Snakes in Arizona (Pics)

Arizona is known for its hot sun and arid conditions. Chock full of desert, rocks, and grasslands. It’s the perfect place for sun-bathing, desert-loving reptiles. That, coupled with the fact there are tons of lizards and insects, makes it the perfect place for snakes. Arizona is home to 52 species of snakes. Both venomous and non-venomous.

12 Non-venomous Snakes In Arizona

Most snakes in Arizona are non-venomous, though there are 13 species of rattlesnakes alone in the state. Some Arizona snakes are rarely seen, while others may show up in your backyard!  Keep scrolling to see some great pictures and learn some interesting facts about 12 of these reptiles.

1. Common King Snake

Common king snake
Common king snake | image by California Department of Fish and Wildlife via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Lampropeltis getula

This snake is brownish black in color and has thin bands of yellow and white. Fully grown, they will measure anywhere from 30 to 85 inches long.

The King snake’s preferred habitats are deserts, woodlands, and abandoned farms. Though they will also be found near swamps, streams, and lakes.

Their diet includes lizards, small turtles, eggs, and rattlesnakes! Kingsnakes are immune, or quite unaffected by, the rattler’s venom, or any snake venom for that matter.

2. Glossy Snake

Glossy snake
Glossy Snake | image by Greg Schechter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Arizona elegans

Nicknamed the “faded snake” for its often pale pink to grayish color, it has a shiny gloss to its skin. An adult snake will measure between 26 and 70 inches.

Part of the constrictor family, this snake species will crush its prey or swallow it whole. Their diet consists almost entirely of lizards.

Being strong burrowers, the Glossy snake will choose areas with sandy soil where they can dig and take shelter from the heat of the day.

3. Gopher Snake

Gopher snake
Gopher snake | image by Joshua Tree National Park

Scientific name: Pituophis catenifer

Gaining its name from its appetite for gophers, this snake is the longest in the Western United States. It will average 8 to 9 feet long. Their coloring is usually yellow to pale brown.

The Gopher snake likes the sandy desert areas where it can catch rodents, lizards, and rabbits. When threatened, the Gopher snake will coil its tail, shake, hiss, and then head butt any predator.

The Gopher snake is one of the most commonly seen in Arizona. It has adapted well to human habitats. So much, that it will often be seen hanging around golf courses, parks, and yards.

4. Black-Necked Garter Snake

Black-necked garter snake
Black-necked garter snake | image by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr

Scientific name: Thamnophis cyrtopsis

This semi-aquatic snake can usually be found near water. They grow to be about 16 to 46 inches and have large distinctive blotches on the side of their necks.

Their diet includes frogs, toads, tadpoles, lizards, and fish. When threatened, this Garter snake will bite and  release their bowls to scare off predators.

5. Coachwhip Snake

Scientific name: Masticophis flagellum

The name Coachwhip comes from this snake’s resemblance to the horse whips used by old-fashioned stagecoach drivers.

In Arizona, these snakes are usually black. They will grow to be between 36 to 52 inches. The Coachwhip can be found in sandy soil, pine forests, and coastal dunes.

This species is very fast, can quickly catch its prey, and swallow it whole. Small birds, eggs, lizards, and insects are the bulk of their diet. If captured, the snake will continuously bite until released.

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6. Long-Nosed Snake

Long-nosed snake
Long-nosed snake | image by Patrick Alexander via Flickr

Scientific name: Rhinocheilus lecontei

The base colors of these snakes vary but they have unique markings of red, black, and white blotches or bands. An adult snake can grow to be 20 to 60 inches.

A countersunken lower jaw allows the to burrow. Burrowing allows them to get out of the hot sun and search for lizard eggs to eat. Their diet also includes small mammals and other snakes.

When threatened, they will wiggle vigorously and then poop. This will offend many predators into retreating.

7. Mountain Patch-Nosed Snake

Salvadora grahamiae
Mountain Patch-Nosed Snake (Salvadora grahamiae) | image by Saguaro National Park via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Salvadora grahamiae

This very slender snake will be found slithering around the canyons, thorn brush, and deserts of Arizona.

It will usually grow to be 22 to 27 inches long but can be as long as 3 feet. The base color is grayish brown with a tan, sand, or light orange stripe. An unusual characteristic is a scale on the tip of its nose.

Being very shy, they will hide if confronted by humans. Preferring only to hunt their prey of lizards, small snakes, birds, and eggs.

8. Ring-Necked Snake

Ring-necked snake
Ring-necked-Snake | image by California Department of Fish and Wildlife via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Diadophis punctatus

This snake is best known for its rather amusing defense. When in danger, it will coil up and lift its backend, then unleash a foul odor!

This species has an olive green to the bluish gray base with a yellow or orange band around its neck. Usually an adult will be no more than 15 to 18 inches long.

Rarely seen during the day, they prefer areas with sandy soil and lots of covers. Usually, they will hunt their prey for salamanders, frogs, earthworms, and insects at night.

9. California King Snake

California kingsnake
California kingsnake

Scientific name: Lampropeltis californiae

Despite its name, this snake has adapted well to many areas of Arizona. People often find them in their sheds, garages, and yards.

Adults are around 3 feet long. Attractive contrasting banding of black and white or yellow and white encompasses their entire body.

Like the Common King snake, they too are immune to Rattlesnake venom and like to make meals of them. Being that they are not timid around populated areas, they are a great natural solution to the rattlesnake problem.

10. Desert Night Snake

Scientific name: Hypsiglena chlorophaea

If there is a non-venomous snake in Arizona homes, chances are it’s the Desert Night snake. They have a knack for crawling through pipes and small cracks. This is why folks will often find them in their kitchens or bathrooms.

Their coloring is olive-grey with brownish-tan blotches. Fully grown, they are less than a foot long. Having a triangular head, people will often mistake it for a rattlesnake.

However, these critters don’t even like to bite anything! When scared or threatened, the Night snake will ball up and hide its head. Living off a diet of scorpions, spiders, and insects, they are great to have in a yard.

11. Ground Snake

Western ground snake
Western ground snake | image by Ro via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific name: Sonora semiannulata

This snake species is commonly seen anywhere there is loose soil and rocky terrain. Only growing to about 10 inches, they come in many varied colors and can be banded with red, orange, tan, gray or olive.

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Completely harmless to people and peers, they are not biters. Prey includes crickets, scorpions, and insect larvae.

12. Eastern Racer Snake

North american racer
North American racer | image by arthur-windsor via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0

Scientific name: Coluber constrictor

As the name suggests, this snake’s best defense is its ability to slither quickly away from predators. The Eastern Racer snake will grow to be anywhere from 20 to 60 inches. Patterns vary but most have base colors of black, brown, or tan.

Being a constrictor, they will press or squeeze their prey. Though sometimes they’ll just swallow it whole. This species’ diet consists of birds, frogs, toads, eggs, and lizards.

Often found near water, they also inhabit brushy areas, suburban neighborhoods, and even trash piles.