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10 Species of Snakes With Black Tails (Pictures)

Snakes have always captured people’s interest because of the wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and behaviors they exhibit. Few of these mesmerizing colors are as luxurious and attractive as black. If you were walking around your neighborhood and caught a quick glimpse of snakes with black tails going into the bushes, you might wonder what it was.

Photo collage snakes with black tails

10 Snakes with black tails 

This article will provide a list of venomous and nonvenomous black-tailed snakes, as well as some information to help you identify them. 

1. Black-tailed rattlesnake

Black-tailed rattlesnake coiled
Black-tailed rattlesnake coiled | image by Patrick Alexander via Flickr

Scientific Name: Crotalus molossus

The southwestern United States and Mexico are home to several species of venomous pit vipers, including the Black-tailed rattlesnake. You can find them in a wide range of colors, including yellows, olive greens, browns, and blacks; however, true to their name, all of them have black tails, regardless of the color of the rest of their bodies. 

The rattle, which is made of keratin and grows larger each time the reptile sheds its skin, can be found at the end of its tail, just like it’s on other species of rattlesnakes. This species’ venom is only two-thirds as toxic as that of western diamondbacks, and it isn’t lethal to humans. 

2. Black tail cribo

Black tail cribo
Black tail cribo | image by Ashley Wahlberg (Tubbs) via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Drymarchon melanurus

The Blacktail Cribo is a large, non-venomous species that can reach up to 8 feet in its adulthood. They are among the most eye-catching snakes found in North America due to the fact that they typically have an olive-brown color that gradually transitions into a black color towards the tail. 

In addition, there are distinct dark markings around the eyes, a dark slash running vertically behind the jaw, and a heavy dark slash running diagonally on each side of the neck, all of which contribute to the one-of-a-kind quality of this species’ physical characteristics. Additionally, it appears that this species prefers elevations of approximately 1,900 meters above sea level.

3. Eastern indigo snake

Eastern indigo snake
Eastern indigo snake | image by Florida Fish and Wildlife via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Drymarchon couperi

If you came across a snake with a black tail, there is a good chance you came across an eastern indigo snake. This species has a glossy blue-black coloration covering its entire body, including its tail. However, its smooth scales reflect an iridescent blackish-purple color when exposed to sunlight. 

It has the potential to grow to a length of up to 9.2 feet, making it the longest native snake species in the United States. This harmless reptile can be found in environments such as flatwoods, stream bottoms, and sandy soils, and it’ll frequently seek refuge in the burrows dug by gopher tortoises. 

4. Celebes black-tailed rat snake

celebes black tailed rat snake
Celebes black-tailed rat snake | image by jeanpaulboerekamps via iNaturalist

Scientific Name: Gonyosoma jansenii

The Celebes black-tailed rat snake, also called the Celebes rat snake, is a reptile that lives only on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Notably, these snakes undergo a unique transformation because, as juveniles, they are green, but then as they grow older, they turn black starting from the tail, making them among the black-tailed snakes you’ll see in the area. 

5. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake F. Muhammad from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Crotalus adamanteus

In the southeastern USA, especially around dry pine forests, wetlands, and maritime hammocks, you can find the largest rattlesnake species known as the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. This species can grow up to 2.4 meters long and weigh up to 34 lbs, making it the heaviest venomous snake species. 

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Its color pattern is made up of diamond-shaped spots on a brownish background that get smaller as they get closer to its tail, making it look like it has a black tail with a rattle at the end. Some think this reptile will rattle before it strikes, but that’s not true. Eastern diamond rattlesnakes can strike anytime and don’t have to rattle first. 

6. Timber Rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnake
Timber rattlesnake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Crotalus horridus

The Timber Rattlesnake is one of the snakes with black tails you might encounter, particularly if you are in the eastern United States. This venomous reptile has dark brown or black crossbands on a yellowish-brown or grayish background.

These crossbands narrow down the tail, giving the tail a dark, almost black color. You are most likely to come across them in deciduous forests, rocky ledges, and river floodplains, all of which offer ideal conditions for sunbathing. 

7. Northern Cottonmouth

Northern cottonmouth
Northern cottonmouth | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Agkistrodon piscivorus

In the southeastern United States, you’ll find one of the world’s few semiaquatic vipers, the Northern Cottonmouth. They can be found in places like creeks, marshes, and swamps, and their unique defensive behavior includes flattening their bodies and secreting a pungent smell from the base of their tails.

When they are young, the tips of their tails are yellowish or greenish, and they use these colors to attract prey like amphibians. As they get older, the tips of these tails turn black. 

8. 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

The ring-necked snake is one of the snakes with black tails you might see in the wild. This particular species is well-known for its distinctive pattern, which consists of a brightly colored collar on its neck and a dark body color overall. 

It’s a secretive species that shows off its bright red-orange underside by curling its tail when it feels threatened. The snake’s tail is a dark color that can be black or grayish-black, but its underside is yellow-orange to red. 

9. Black racer

Black racer coiled in grass
Black racer coiled in grass | credit: Everglades National Park

Scientific Name: Coluber constrictor

One of the most well-known black snakes is the black racer, which can grow up to 73 inches long. Adults are typically a single, uniform color, most notably black with a lighter underside; because this coloring typically continues to the tip of the tail, this species may be included in the group of snakes you might encounter that have black tails if it’s common in your area.

These species are fast and very active. Most of the time, you’ll see them hunting rodents, small mammals, frogs, and other snakes. 

10. Black kingsnake

Juvenile black kingsnake
Juvenile black kingsnake | image by Derell Licht via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Lampropeltis getula

Black kingsnake is a nonvenomous species characterized by a glossy black or dark brown base with white chain-like rings. Most of the time, the subspecies in the coastal plains have wider bands, while those in the mountains may be all black. Because they are immune to their deadly venom, these kingsnakes eat other snakes, even venomous ones. This makes them one of the best reptiles for controlling the number of venomous species.

Sources:

  • “BLACK SNAKES: IDENTIFICATION AND ECOLOGY”, S. A. Johnson and M. E. McGarrity, IFAS Extension University of Florida, February 24, 2020, edis.ifas.ufl.edu
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Louise Robles

About Louise Robles

Louise writes about a wide variety of topics including wildlife, animals, and nature. She's developed a growing interest in animal biology and categorization due to her fascination with how they interact with one another and with their surroundings.