Snakes of Acadiana Park


 Family Colubridae

Represented in Louisiana by 18 genera composed of 32 species. The Acadiana Park Nature Station is represented by 11 genera composed of 9 species and 6 subspecies.

Black-Masked Racer - Coluber constrictor latrunculus

Subspecies of the racer; a long, slim slate-gray snake with a broad black stripe behind the eye; maximum length is 75 1/4 inches, 1911mm.; primary diet consists of rodents, lizards, frogs, and birds; relatively common in the park. Referred to as the fastest snake, but if a person were to walk fast, her or she could outrun this or any snake in North America.

Red-Bellied Snake — Storeria occipitomaculata

Texas Rat Snake - Pantherophis obsoletus

Subspecies of the rat snake; long gray-brown or yellowish-brown arboreal snake with dark blotches; maximum length is 101 inches, 2565mm.; primary diet consists of rodents and birds; common in the park. Commonly found in barns and house attics searching for rats and mice. When threatened it sometimes vibrates its tail. And, if it is in leaves, will sound like the buzz of a rattlesnake.

Western Mud Snake — Farancia abacura reinwardtii

Subspecies of the mud snake; a long medium bodied black snake with a bright red belly; Maximum length is 81 inches, 2057mm.; aquatic, rarely seen out of water; primary diet consists of amphiuma and siren; rare in park.

Eastern Hog-Nosed Snake - Heterodon platyrhinos

A medium sized, heavy bodied snake with a variable dark pattern on a lighter background; has an upturned snout used for digging toads; maximum length is 45½ inches, 1156mm.; primary diet consists of toads but it will also eat frogs and salamanders; fairly common in park. This snake will flatten its neck like a cobra and hiss loudly when disturbed. If this doesn't intimidate the intruder the hog-nose will flip on its back and writhe around with its tongue hanging out and finally lay still as if dead.

Speckled Kingsnake - Lampropeltis getulus holbrooki

Subspecies of the common kingsnake; a medium sized shiny, black snake with small light colored (yellow) spots; maximum length is 82 inches, 2083mm.; common in park; primary diet consists of mice, snakes, birds, lizards, and eggs. They can eat venomous snakes because they are immune to the venom. They also eat non-venomous snakes including other kingsnakes.

Western Green Water Snake - Nerodia cyclopion

A heavy-bodied olive brown snake with an indistinct pattern of narrow dark crossbars; maximum length is 50 inches, 1270mm.; prefers still or slow-moving water and is seldom away from water; common in park. Primarily a diurnal basking snake during the colder months and a nocturnal aquatic snake during the warmer months. Primary food is fish, and it is especially fond of mosquito fish.

Yellow-Bellied Water Snake - Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster

Subspecies of the Plain-bellied water snake; a long, heavy-bodied, gray or dark-brown snake with a yellow belly; maximum length is 62 inches, 1575mm.; rarely bask and are primarily nocturnal in the summer; primary diet consists of fish, crawfish, and leopard frogs; common in park.

Broad-Banded Water Snake - Nerodia fasciata confluens

Subspecies of southern water snake; a long, tan, heavy-bodied snake with broad dark bands; maximum length is 62 1/2; inches, 1588mm.; frequently bask; nocturnal in the summer; feeds on fishes, anurans, and frogs; common in park.

​Diamond-backed water snake - Nerodia rhombifera

A long, heavy-bodied tan to gray-brown snake with a pattern of dark brown to black chainlike markings; maximum length is 63 inches, 1600mm.; often bask in low hanging branches over water; predominantly nocturnal from April through October; the most abundant water snake in the Atchafalaya, often mistaken for the Water Moccasin; primary diet consists of fishes and frogs; common in the park.

Rough Green Snake - Opheodrys aestivus

A green extremely slender snake with a white or yellow belly; maximum length is 45 5/8 inches, 1159mm.; primary diet consists of grasshoppers, katydids, spiders and crickets; fairly common in the park. They are excellent climbers often found in vines, bushes, or small trees, frequently near streams or lakes.

Brown Snake - Storeria dekayi

A light-brown or gray-brown, thin bodied snake with a pale vertebral stripe bordered by dark spots; white or pinkish belly; maximum length is 20 3/4 inches, 527mm.; often found under rotting debris and in gardens; primary diet consists of earthworms, slugs, and snails. Mistakenly referred to as a ground rattler.

Western Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus

A olive-brown to black thin bodied snake with a gold or orange vertebral stripe and a yellowish stripe on either side of the vertebral stripe; maximum length is 48½ inches, 1232mm.; lives near water; primary diet consists of fish and amphibians; very common in the park. Often mistaken for the Common Garter Snake.

Common Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis

A nearly black thin bodied snake with a yellowish or red-orange vertebral stripe and a light yellow stripe on either side of the vertebral stripe with two rows of alternating black spots between stripes; maximum length is 52 inches, 1321mm.; primary diet consists of earthworms and amphibians; lives near water; very common in the park. Most widely distributed snake in North America. Often mistaken for the Ribbon Snake.

Rough Earth Snake - Virginia striatula

Brown, very thin-bodied snake with a white or pink belly; maximum length is 12 3/4 inches, 324mm.; often found under rotting debris and in gardens; primary diet consists of earthworms and slugs; status uncertain. Mistakenly referred to as a "ground rattler".


 Family Viperidae

Represented in Louisiana by three genera with five species: Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), Water Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorous), Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus), Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) and Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius). The Acadiana Park Nature Station is represented by one genera with two species. These are venomous snakes. They have fangs that fold down when they close their mouth and are called pit vipers.

Copperhead - Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix

A tan heavy-bodied snake with brown cross bands. Maximum length is 53 inches, 1346 mm.; usually feeds at night; found during the day sunning on logs, beside logs, under logs, or sometimes on the move; common in the park.

Cottonmouth (sometimes called Water Moccasin)—Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma

Adults range from 26 to 35in in length. The head is broad with a blunt snout. Most are black but the color pattern may be brown, gray, tan, or yellowish-olive with a series of 10–17 dark brownish black crossbands. The belly is white, pale yellow, or tan, and may be marked with dark spots. They are semiaquatic and usually found in or near shallow lakes, streams, and marshes. Its diet includes mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, snakes, small turtles and small alligators.

 Family Elapidae

 Family Elapidae is represented in Louisiana by one genera and one species.

Texas coralsnake —Micrurus tener

This is a venomous snake with fangs but the fangs do no fold down like the Viperidae. This snake has to chew on its victim to inject venom. This snake does not occur at the Acadiana Park Nature Station.

 All photos courtesy of Brad M. Glorioso.

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