Louisiana Garden Snakes: Identifying the Most Common Snakes in Your Garden

Louisiana may be known for its Mardi Gras, Cajun cuisine, and alligator-infested bayou, but it also has forests and rolling plains to explore. Across the “Pelican State”, snakes live in the most discreet places: quiet little nooks and crannies, even under piles of rocks and rubble.

We did some digging and found the most common snakes in Louisiana.

Before I get into the identification tips, I want to warn you. Don’t touch a snake unless you can identify it 150%. As with any good snake hunter, we think it’s important to determine if snakes are actually dangerous before panicking.

Louisiana’s Most Common Venomous Snake: Northern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon pysivoras)

Cottonmouth is a venomous snake.

©Ad Konings/Shutterstock.com

Cottonmouths, also called water moccasins, are rumored to chase after you. Yes, it’s a myth. Snakes don’t chase people. If harassed enough, it may bite and inject venom as a last resort.

Cottonmouths are far from the aggressive, mean-spirited snakes you’d expect, and really want nothing to do with you. These snakes are about 2 to 4 feet long, heavy-bodied copperheads that live in areas with fresh water. The cottonmouth’s chunky body tapers dramatically from the end of the body to the end of the tail. Like all copperheads, it has a large triangular head and a fairly thin neck. Their heads are huge, as they house venom glands attached to movable, hinged fangs.

Their body types vary according to age and location. Juveniles are so similar in markings that they are often mistaken for copperheads. Many of them have an hourglass pattern that looks like a chocolate kiss when viewed from the side, except for Cottonmouth’s pattern, where his edges are more “pixelated” in appearance, like a copperhead. It lacks smooth gradients. As cottonmouth ages, it becomes darker in color and harder to spot patterns. They range from dark, dark brown to olive, and some are almost completely black.

Their heads have dark stripes along the sides. These stripes often have a lighter border color. They have sharp angles around their noses, mandibles, and heads. Also, cottonmouths and most other vipers have extra scales above their eyes, giving them a sort of “checkmark” appearance. Some believe that the extra scale acts like sunscreen for the eyes.

defensive behavior

The reason people call them “cottonmouth” snakes is because of their defensive behavior. Most of the time they either avoid you or just sit still. They are slow-moving and not very elegant on land. But when the jig is up and they realize you’re still there, they open their mouths to reveal a cottony white mouth and hollow fangs. is also this behavior.

But it’s not. Some reports say they bite faster than their close relatives, the copperhead. Indeed, if you continue to harass the snakes and bite them, they will attack you. These snakes are slow on land, but fast and elegant in water. Because cottonmouths are more comfortable in the water, they are more defensible on land.

Other Louisiana Venomous Snakes

The cottonmouth may be the most commonly encountered venomous snake in Louisiana, but it’s not the only dangerous noodle in the state. it’s dangerous. However, they are much less common.

nonvenomous snakes of louisiana

Cottonmouths are fairly easy to identify, but are often confused with various non-venomous water snake species, such as the following on the list.

1. Striped Water Snake (Nerodia Bandata)

striped water snake
The striped water snake has a flat head and a heavy body.

©Patrick K. Campbell/Shutterstock.com

If you’re near freshwater Louisiana, you’re more likely to see a striped water snake. The difference in how water snakes and cottonmouths swim isn’t enough to unambiguously identify them.

In general, striped water snakes are heavy-bodied and have flat heads about 2-4 feet long, which unfortunately increases the problem of misidentification. However, the body tapers gradually towards the tail and can be properly identified using several key identifiers. To do this, you must eliminate the poisonous cottonmouth as a suspect.

Striped water snakes are usually brown, gray, or greenish-grey with dark cross-bands that vary from reddish-brown to brown. Some individuals become so dark that no pattern is visible. Unfortunately, many cottonmouths are similarly dark and difficult to identify. Like cottonmouths, they are more comfortable in the water and move better there. However, these snakes are more likely to flee than to stop moving.

2. Diamond Backwater Snake (Nerodia rhombifer)

diamond-backed water snake
Diamond backwater snakes live only in freshwater.


Like its cousin, the striped water snake, the diamondback water snake is heavy-bodied. They can reach 4 feet in length and give birth. However, their names give hints about patterning. They are usually brownish with dark diamond-shaped markings on their backs. Their pattern looks like chain links.

Diamondback Water Snakes tend to be “aggressively defensive” and may bite if you try to deal with them. They aren’t even polite, they show me their pretty fangs and white mouth first.

This species is often the victim of misidentification because its diamond pattern is somewhat reminiscent of a rattlesnake. However, rattlesnakes do not hang on branches above water while waiting for fish to swim to them. Rattlesnakes wait for rodents and hide in bushes.

3. Western Ribbon Snake (next to Tamnophis)

Next Next Tamnophis
The Western Ribbon Snake has three bright stripes that start just behind its head and extend across its body.


I should have known there was some kind of garter or ribbon snake here. They are common in North America and southern Canada.

The western ribbon snake, contrary to its common name, occurs in the central regions of North America. It is a nimble snake, ranging in length from one and a half to a little over four feet.like most Tamnofis A genus, it has large, friendly eyes with round pupils. The body is elongated and the base color varies from olive to black. This species has three thin stripes that start just behind the head and extend across the body. The head has a spot that looks like two spots merged. The belly is greenish or yellowish-white with no markings around the lips.

Garter snakes are just as at home on land as they are at swimming in ponds. They eat a lot of small amphibians, so they tend to stay close to their prey. This species is completely harmless to humans.

4. North American racers (snake constrictor)

Close up of Southern Black Racer with tongue out
Southern Black Racers are also known as North American Racers.

© Tjackson Vii / Shutterstock.com

Racers are great, fast-moving snakes that can disappear before you even see them. We don’t have much information about her hourly speed of movement for other snakes, but we do have measurements for racers. Their top speed when cruising over land is about 4 miles per hour. It doesn’t look very fast, but it’s a pretty good clip for snakes. Racer is about 5 feet long, the same length as an adult, but he is very skinny and does not weigh much. These colbrids are non-venomous, but if one is cornered, they will writhe around like their tails are on fire. If you try to pick it up, it will bite you.

Racers are long, slender snakes that cycle through trees and undergrowth during the day, occasionally looking for rodents, small lizards, amphibians, and even bird eggs. Although constrictors are included in the scientific name, they do not actually contract food. They hold on tight with their mouths and press a coil or two against the ground or rocks until they stop struggling.

Depending on the subspecies, the dorsal side varies from olive to black or blue-black, and the ventral or ventral side varies from creamy-white to yellow. There is a fair amount of white on the chin and neck, but not as much as the rat snake. The juvenile North American racer resembles a ratsnake, and people often confuse the two.

Other Louisiana Snakes

Our list includes the most common Louisiana snakes, but there are quite a few other types of snakes in the state. snakes may be seen.

The Myth of “The Snake Chased His Friend”

You may have heard of snakes chasing someone, but that doesn’t happen. Many snakes are curious by nature and will come to you if you don’t threaten them. This is not a chase. A cottonmouth may swim toward a boat out of curiosity and keep moving. Coach Whip raises the periscope and comes to check on people.

Please note that most stories contain poisonous snakes. Also, it is unlikely that it will be a direct account. why? Because people are afraid of what poisonous snakes can do. The venom they can inject causes everything from minor irritation to tissue necrosis, paralysis, internal bleeding, and even death.

However, these snakes are not out to get you. In fact, we are not on the regular menu of snake species. Even giant snakes will avoid you, except in very rare circumstances. The fact that they make the news when this happens shows how unusual it is. .

If you give it space, most of the time the snake will follow a cheerful little trail and won’t bother you. There are many companies willing to do it for you – and many volunteers who are comfortable working with these animals who don’t charge a penny.

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