Houston and The Greater Houston area are ideal habitats for different snake species. A combination of dry land and aquatic or semi-aquatic snake species is characteristic of this area.
Houston is one of the large areas where both venomous and non-venomous species live together. Some venomous snakes around Houston are highly venomous and need immediate medical care when they bite, possibly even antivenom.
Even non-venomous species around Houston may still have a painful bite.
Venomous Snakes in Houston
Here are some of the most dangerous snake species around Houston. Some of them may even kill people.
1. Eastern Copperhead
Eastern Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix) are venomous snakes found across North America. Their presence is signaled in various types of woodlands. This species is found in The Greater Houston area.
These snakes are found in deciduous woodlands with trees that have falling leaves.
Mixed tree woodlands with their rocky formations are also in the distribution areas of these snakes.
The Eastern Copperhead is a snake with tan to pink base colors with up to 13 crossbands.
As a pit viper, the Eastern Copperhead has a venomous bite. Its bite is considered not as venomous as the other types of pit vipers.
Furthermore, Eastern Copperheads often first bite with lesser venom in what is known as a warning bite.
2. Northern Cottonmouth
Northern Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) are dark semiaquatic species with a venomous bite.
People should avoid these snakes as they can have lethal bites. Many untreated bites can lead to death.
The species is characterized by its dark appearance. Its body is brown, olive-to-brown, or black.
These snakes even have crossbands but they aren’t visible given their almost black color.
Brown ventral coloring is specific to this species.
Even the eyes of the species have vertical pupils but these may also be difficult to distinguish given their dark eyes, similar to the indistinguishable crossbands on their bodies.
Northern Cottonmouth snakes may reach a maximum length of 4 feet.
3. Texas Coralsnake
Moist areas of Southern US territories are the distribution areas of The Texas Coralsnake (Micrurus tener).
A species identified by its wide bands along its dorsal side, Texas Coralsnakes feed on other snakes and they live in areas with other species.
Known for their venomous bites, these snakes aren’t necessarily aggressive and they prefer not to engage humans.
On occasion, these snakes might also eat skinks. This is also a trait of younger and smaller Texas Coralsnakes.
These young snakes are born from eggs laid in the summer.
A visible size difference is the easiest way to tell young and adult Texas Coralsnakes apart. Adults may measure 3 times as much, growing to 30 inches while young snakes often measure just under 10 inches.
4. Timber Rattlesnake
Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) are found around the United States and come in different colors with base yellow, brown, or tan coloring with darker bands across the body.
These snakes are larger as they grow up to 50-60 inches. Only record-breaking Timber Rattlesnakes grow to 70 inches.
While venomous, these snakes also have a positive role in the ecosystem. As natural predators, they help control rodent populations.
These snakes use their venom against their prey. Biting the prey and injecting the venom, Timber Rattlesnakes wait until the rodent is dead to eat it.
Apart from mice and rodents, Timber Rattlesnakes eat other mammals such as squirrels.
The diet and activity levels of Timber Rattlesnakes depend on their location and the season.
With poor regulation of their body heat, these snakes can spend a lot of time hibernating. The snakes can even spend more than half of the year in hibernation North of Texas.
5. Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake
The Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) is another common venomous snake species in North America.
Snakes of this species inhabit states of the South and of the Southwest, including areas around Houston.
Many of these snakes spend their time hiding from large animals as they have plenty of predators.
Cows and deer identify the venomous and aggressive snake and may try to kill it by stomping.
A venomous bite with more than 700mg of injected venom is lethal to humans and large animals. However, it’s rare for The Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake to inject as much venom with a single bite.
The average injected venom quantity sits at around 250mg.
Widespread distribution and a long lifespan also make this species dangerous. The snake can live at least a decade with many Timber Rattlesnakes living up to 2 decades.
6. Pygmy Rattlesnake
This type of spotted snake (Sistrurus miliarius) is identified by its red-to-brown mid-dorsal interrupted stripe.
A constant presence in Houston, the species is even the most encountered snake in the state’s backyards.
Venomous and dangerous, Pygmy Rattlesnakes aren’t known to kill a large human, at least not with the typical injected venom quantity.
This type of snake is found around parks, gardens, marshes, and flatwoods. It can live in both dry and humid areas.
Pygmy Rattlesnakes are further known for looking for typical animals in urban areas.
It eats small and large animals, insects, and bugs. Mice are among their common reasons for being close to homes.
Lizards and even other species of small snakes are often eaten by Pygmy Rattlesnakes.
7. Diamondback Watersnake
This venomous species (Nerodia rhombifer) is found in coastal plains around the greater metropolitan area.
It has potent venom and as a pit viper, it can prey on a wide number of mammals, lizards, and birds.
This species is aggressive towards humans if cornered. The bites of The Diamondback Watersnake are described as painful or very painful.
Its powerful hemotoxic venom can also kill people when injected in a high amount.
Medical treatment in the form of antivenin is given to those bitten by the snake.
Non-venomous Snakes in Houston
Houston and The Greater Houston area are home to the following species.
8. Banded Watersnake
Banded Watersnakes (Nerodia fasciata) are one of the common snakes in The Greater Houston area. Found in coastal plains, this species is characterized by different colors and by a darkening appearance with age.
It has small to medium size, growing to 48 inches as a maximum length and at about 35 inches on average.
The species comes in brown, red, and black colors. Large crossbands are also seen along its body.
The specificity of these crossbands includes widening at mid-dorsal areas.
Banded Watersnakes are further known for darkening with time. Brown snakes with dark brown bands become all-brown.
Red Banded Watersnakes with dark red bands become dark red with age.
Found around different types of aquatic areas, these snakes can be spotted on rocks along water sources or on vegetation around water.
9. Western Ribbon Snake
This species (Thamnophis proximus) is found all around Texas, but particularly in the Southeast, next to Houston.
Snakes of this genus are characterized by their multiple dorsal stripes. They live in tall vegetation where their striped body acts as camouflage.
These snakes are known for a bright cream or yellow mid-dorsal stripe.
Black, olive, green, and brown colors are specific to the rest of the dorsal side. Ventral coloring is typically green.
This snake is highly adaptable. From living in The Greater Houston area in coastal plains to spreading its habitat South to thornscrub, the species find its way into nature.
A varied diet that includes various native Texas lizards is specific to the species.
10. Rough Earthsnake
One of the typical fossorial snakes likely to be encountered around Houston is The Rough Earthsnake (Haldea striatula). This species has a slender body and a length that may reach 9 inches.
A short snake that spends its time on the ground, in the ground, or trailing under leaves or vegetation, The Rough Earthsnake is among the species with a uniform dark gray or brown color.
Juvenile Rough Earthsnakes have a similar color only a slightly shorter body.
One way to distinguish juveniles from adults is to identify the ring-shaped band around the head of the younger Rough Earthsnake.
This band darkens and eventually disappears as the snake grows.
11. Plain-bellied Watersnake
Getting its name from its bright underbelly, The Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster) lives both on land and in water.
This snake can move around dry land next to water looking for food but it may also stay submerged waiting for small prey to approach it.
Plain-bellied Watersnakes come out in the warmest parts of the day. They are known for their high activity levels during the day and the night.
They might eat frogs and toads but these snakes are also capable of catching fish.
A fast species, the snake approaches and strikes prey swallowing it immediately. It feeds on live fish and crayfish without injecting either venom or contrasting its prey.
12. Dekay’s Brownsnake
This type of snake (Storeria dekayi) has a dark brown color with black dots and a brown stripe along its dorsal side.
The species represents one of the smaller snakes around the area of Houston, only growing to a length of a few inches.
Dekay’s Brownsnakes maintain their coloring throughout their life stages. These snakes have the same dark brown appearance both as juveniles and as adults.
Earthworms are the only soft prey this species can feed on, even if it may occasionally go for other types of soft invertebrates when hungry.
These species live abundantly around Houston and Texas representing the Eastern border of its widespread North American distribution.
13. Western Ratsnake
These types of ratsnakes (Pantherophis obsoletus) are present across various habitats in The Greater Houston area as well as in coastal areas of Texas.
An adaptable species, The Western Ratsnake can climb and swim. It easily makes its way around water as well as up vegetation and trees where it finds various food sources.
Oak trees and woodlands tend to be its preferred areas, but the snake can be found around water as well, particularly basking on rocks.
Western Ratsnake may associate itself with venomous snakes as it tends to live in the same areas as some of the city’s dangerous snakes.
Western Ratsnakes often fall prey to snakes that eat other snakes. Otherwise, they eat frogs, rats, and other rodents or lizards.
14. Eastern Hognose Snake
This thick snake (Heterodon platirhinos) has a short to medium length. It measures around 30 inches with occasional snakes being longer.
High color variability is specific to this snake. It can come in gray, black, brown, and even orange colors.
Plain coloring or multicolored bodies are also specific to this snake.
Identifying it may be complicated due to its multiple colors but this snake has a distinguishable upturned snout seen both on males and females.
The snout is used for head-butting in fake strikes.
Snakes of this family can feed on all types of Houston frogs and toads, including on the poisonous ones as it has high resistance to their toxins.
15. North American Racer
Roadsides and coastal areas are some of the most common areas around Houston where the North American Racer (Coluber constrictor) can be spotted.
Unlike other species, this snake is only diurnal. It has a high activity level during the day when it warms up in the sun or when it’s out for prey.
It eats a large number of bugs, insects, rodents, and even small animals. From the occasional bug to rabbits, North American Racers are some of the typical snakes that can eat almost anything they can overpower.
Juveniles of the species eat smaller prey and they can be seen emerging in the fall.
16. Rough Greensnake
This small snake (Opheodrys aestivus) may also be known as The Grass Snake given it lives in vegetation and has a bright green color.
A slender snake, Rough Greensnakes can climb trees and vegetation.
This is a species known for its general preference for small and very small prey, given its reduces size.
It eats different types of insects and ground-dwelling soft arthropods.
The snake is typically killed by humans.
This species (Masticophis flagellum) is one of the most common in Texas to have a medium to large body size. It’s not uncommon to spot a 50-inch Coachwhip around Houston.
Snakes of this species are known to take on the color of their environment, this is why their appearance varies considerably.
Those around Houston tend to be brown and dark brown or brown and black.
Coachwip snakes in other parts of the state can be red.
Much of their lives are spent looking for food. These snakes don’t come out at night as they rely on vision to locate prey.
Rodents and lizards are part of their diet, with additional and occasional birds.
Catching these prey is based on their ability to spot them from a distance. These snakes can elevate their heads above vegetation to locate their next meal.
18. Mississippi Green Watersnake
This type of aquatic snake (Nerodia cyclopion) is found around Houston and Texas.
It inhabits bayous and other types of wetlands where it can find plenty of food and enjoy camouflaging-based hunting.
Dark brown coloring may make this species very difficult to spot when in water.
The Mississippi Green Watersnake spends much of its time looking for aquatic-based foods.
Small fish are part of its diet. This snake can also eat small frogs.
19. Graham’s Crayfish Snake
One of the multiple brown snake species found around Houston is Graham’s Crayfish Snake (Regina grahamii).
This species typically has a dark brown dorsal color but the shade of brown can vary according to its area.
A rare morph of the species also includes a dorsal gray color.
As its name suggests, this species lives in areas where it can find crayfish to feed on. It spends its days looking for soft freshly-molted crayfish.
Ditches are among the most common areas this snake can be found in.
20. Brahminy Blindsnake
One of the species that controls termites around Houston is the Brahaminy Blindsnake (Indotyphlops braminus).
Even more, this is a snake species that prefer to live right in the nest of these potentially-invasive insects.
The snake has a brown and light brown color, a reduced size, and no vision.
It grows to just a few inches, spending much of its time underground.
This is one of the snakes with a high presence in the inner-city limits as well as on disturbed land and farms around Houston.
21. Speckled Kingsnake
A common presence around The Gulf of Mexico, The Speckled Kingsnake (Lampropeltis holbrooki) is identified by its atypical coloring.
A black base color with white specks is specific to the species, as its name implies.
This is also a species that has cream to tan white specks at times.
Snakes of this genus are powerful constrictors that grow to a length of over 50 inches.
Constriction is used against frogs and lizards it eats.
This implies coiling its tail around its prey and suffocating it with force before eating it.
22. Western Milksnake
Areas with lizards and skinks are the most likely areas to attract the Western Milksnake (Lampropeltis gentilis).
This is a common species with red, black, and white coloring which is found in many other state regions.
On occasion, the non-venomous Western Milksnake may feed on juvenile snakes of other species.
Its juveniles feed on soft invertebrates such as earthworms and slugs.
A nocturnal species, Western Milksnakes rarely move around during the day, preferring to move around at night, when they can be spotted around crops.
Their presence here is mainly of interest for catching rodents.
23. Glossy Swampsnake
The entire Gulf Coast in Eastern Texas is known to be a habitat of The Glossy Swampsnake (Liodytes rigida).
An olive dorsal color helps identify this species. Its ventral coloring is mostly yellow, in the form of stripes.
As its name suggests, the Glossy Swampsnake is a species that lives in or around water.
Its dietary interests revolve around crayfish, especially freshly-molted crayfish.
24. Saltmarsh Snake
This aquatic species (Nerodia clarkii) is found all around The Gulf of Mexico.
It has a short to medium-sized body. Many adult Saltmarsh Snakes only measure around 20 inches with the largest discovered specimen measuring around 30 inches.
High color variation is specific to the species. This is a snake that comes in uniform coloring, mostly gray on its dorsum.
A good swimmer that’s rarely seen, this is a species that moves for food at night.
Fish represent an important percentage of its diet.
25. Prairie Kingsnake
This species (Lampropeltis calligaster) can be found both in the ground and above the ground.
Grassland, prairies, and open areas next to the water are among its typical habitats.
Like many other snakes in Houston, Prairies Kingsnakes also come in different types of colors. These snakes can be gray with dark gray patterns or even brown.
The snake is not dangerous to humans as it prefers to flee when seeing people.
Releasing a foul smell is another possible reaction in an attempt to play dead.
Aquatic mudsnakes (Farancia abacura) are some of the most contrasting species around Houston.
This snake is often spotted in black and red contrasting colors. Most of its dorsum is black, with red lateral sections.
These types of snakes mostly eat lizards and they can also eat small frogs.
Mudsnakes don’t like humans or large animals in their area and may turn upside down with their red ventral color acting as a possible deterrent.
27. Ring-necked Snake
One of the smallest types of snakes around Houston is the Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus). This species comes in multiple colors and it features a bright band around its neck.
It can be black as a juvenile and turn into a gray and red, olive and white, or gray and yellow species as it matures.
Its ventral color is bright, and it serves as a warning signal to potential predators.
Living in areas with plenty of vegetation cover, Ring-necked Snakes eat earthworms and small frogs.
As we delve into the intriguing world of Houston’s 27 snakes, it’s impossible not to be enthralled by the captivating diversity of these slithering creatures. From the vibrant colors of the Coral Snake to the imposing presence of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, each species has its own unique story to tell. We’ve embarked on a fascinating journey through the realm of reptiles, and we hope you’ve enjoyed every moment of it!
But our adventure doesn’t end here; it’s merely the beginning of a journey filled with wonder and discovery. If you’re as enthusiastic as we are about delving deeper into the world of venomous snakes, we invite you to read more on our Venomous blog. There, you’ll find a treasure trove of knowledge, captivating stories, and expert insights that will continue to fuel your fascination with these incredible creatures.
So, whether you’re a seasoned herpetologist or simply a curious soul eager to learn more, we encourage you to take the next step on this captivating journey. Join us on our Venomous blog and let the enchanting world of snakes in Houston continue to enthrall and amaze you. After all, there’s always more to explore when it comes to the mesmerizing world of nature’s wonders.