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11 Types of Snakes With Black Heads (Pictures)

In the variety of life that lives on the American continents, snakes with black heads stand out for how mysterious and interesting they look. These alluring animals can be found in a wide variety of ecosystems, and the stark contrast between their heads and fairly plain bodies makes them an interesting sight. 

11 Snakes with black heads

In order to better understand these black-headed snakes, the following list teaches you more about their unique adaptations and behaviors. 

1. Southeastern Crowned Snake

Southeastern crowned snake
Southeastern crowned snake | image by John Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Tantilla coronata

The Southeastern Crown Snake is a small, slender snake that lives in the southeastern United States. It’s 8 to 10 inches long, has a grayish-brown or light-brown body, a black, pointed head, and a yellowish or cream band on the neck that separates the head from the neck. 

They live in sandy places and like places where the soil is loose. During the warmer months, the snake is also active and eats insects, centipedes, and larvae. It’s a skilled burrower and doesn’t bite when captured; however, when threatened, it releases musk. 

2. Florida Crowned Snake

Florida crowned snake
Florida crowned snake | image by Daniel Estabrooks via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Tantilla relicta

The Florida Crowned Snake is a non-venomous snake that lives mostly in Florida and Georgia. They can get as long as 7 to 9 inches, and you can tell them apart by their tan to reddish brown bodies and black heads and necks with both adults and young have the same coloring and look the same. 

Even though this species is harmless to humans, it uses mild venom to paralyze its prey. They often live in sandy places like sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, and pine hammocks, where they eat worms, snails, spiders, and insects.

3. Plains Black-headed Snake

Plains black-headed snake slithering
Plains black-headed snake slithering | image by Heather Paul via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Tantilla nigriceps

If you saw a snake that was tan to brownish-gray and had a black mark from the head to the neck, you probably saw a Plains Black-headed Snake. This species is non-venomous and can be found in Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, as well as Mexico. 

This snake usually eats centipedes, bugs, and spiders, and it likes to live in rocky or grassy prairies with moist soil. As a secretive species, they usually hide in leaf litter or small burrows, but sometimes they’re found in basements. 

4. Black-Headed Bushmaster

Black-headed bushmaster
Black-headed bushmaster | image by Goodshort via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Lachesis melanocephala

The Black-Headed Bushmaster is a venomous snake that can be found in Costa Rica and Panama. It has a distinctive black head that makes it stand out from other types of vipers.

This species has an average length of 2.4 meters and prefers to live in rainforest environments. Its diet consists primarily of rodents of a smaller size. It’s also well-known for its connection to the burrows of animals such as agoutis and armadillos.

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5. Tschudi’s False Coral Snake

Tschudi’s false coral snake
Tschudi’s false coral snake | image by Geoff Gallice via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Oxyrhopus melanogenys

One of the species of colubrid snakes found in northern South America is Tschudi’s False Coral snake. They can grow as long as 26 inches (68 centimeters) in length and have a dorsal coloring that’s either red or reddish-brown, with scales that frequently have black edges or black tips. On the front of its body, there may also be crossbands of black color that appear in the shape of triads, but the head and neck are black. 

6. Crowned False Boa

Crowned false boa
Crowned false boa | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Pseudoboa coronata

It’s possible to come across the Crowned False Boa while traveling in South America, particularly in regions that have a lot of leaf litter. You can identify this snake by its bright pinkish-red dorsal and black head. 

These fascinating-looking reptiles are most commonly found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Most of the time, you can find them hiding beneath fallen logs and the root systems of large trees during the day. They hunt lizards and other snakes for their food. 

7. Red Coffee Snake

Red coffee snake
Red coffee snake | image by Jim Conrad via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Ninia sebae

The Red Coffee Snake is a harmless species of land snake native to Central America and Mexico. Its preferred habitats include forests and savannas at various altitudes. These snakes are able to avoid predators thanks to their ability to camouflage, intimidate, and conceal themselves. 

However, when threatened, they flatten their bodies to appear larger. Although they resemble the dangerous coral snake, these reptiles are actually non-venomous and pose no threat to humans. Their diet consists primarily of earthworms, slugs, and land snails. 

8. Southwestern blackhead snake

Southwestern blackhead snake
Southwestern blackhead snake | image by evangrimes via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific Name: Tantilla hobartsmithi

As its name suggests, the Southwestern blackhead snake is endemic to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It reaches a maximum length of about 15 inches and is brown all over, with a black head and a white collar. Venom from its rear fangs isn’t harmful to humans, but it’s very effective at killing insects and other arthropods. 

They’re also active at night and spend most of their time hiding in the dirt and under debris. The presence of this species helps regulate populations of pests like spiders and scorpions in a number of different ecosystems, including deserts, grasslands, shrublands, and forests.

9. Rim rock crowned snake

Scientific Name: Tantilla oolitica

The rim rock crowned snake is a threatened species of nonvenomous snake that’s endemic to southern Florida in the United States. It’s a relatively small species, reaching a maximum length of about 8 inches, with a body that can range from tan to beige, with a white underside and a distinct black head. 

This species takes its name from the Miami Rim Rock land arrangement and prefers the rocky and sandy soils of pine flatwoods and tropical hardwood hammocks. Additionally, this snake is extremely secretive, spending most of its time hidden underground or beneath the rubble. 

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10. Western black-headed snake

Western black-headed snake
Western black-headed snake | image by Miriam Sachs Martin via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific Name: Tantilla planiceps

The western black-headed snake, also called the California black-headed snake, is a small snake you can only find in California, from California to the Baja California Peninsula. It prefers dry or semiarid climates and spends most of its time underground in humid crevices. 

It can reach a maximum length of 15 inches and has a brown, olive-gray body, a black head, and a white collar. You may see them in woodlands, deserts, and grasslands, where they prey on arthropods like centipedes, beetles, spiders, and worms.

11. Eastern coral snake

Eastern coral snake
Eastern coral snake | image: John | Flickr | CC 2.0

Scientific name: Micrurus fulvius

The Eastern Coral Snake is a venomous snake species native to the southeastern United States, known for its striking and vibrant coloration. This snake features bands of red, yellow, and black encircling its body, with a distinguishing black head. Its coloration serves as a warning to potential predators.

These snakes are relatively small, typically measuring between 18 to 30 inches in length. While they possess potent neurotoxic venom used to immobilize prey, they are generally not aggressive and rarely pose a threat to humans unless provoked.

Eastern Coral Snakes are primarily found in wooded areas, pine flatwoods, and sandy habitats across states like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Alabama.