As much as you may fear them, snakes are good to have around. They help control the rodent population since they feed on rats, mice and a lot of other animals considered to be pests. And most of the time, you don’t even know they’re around because snakes prefer to stay out of sight and under cover.
Snakes are classified as cold-blooded reptiles and are closely related to lizards. Unlike lizards, snakes don’t have external ears or eyelids, and they don’t smell with their nose. They have a forked or split tongue they use to smell and taste chemical compositions in the air to figure out their surroundings. Instead of hearing, they feel vibrations through the ground to know what is going on around them.
Copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes are pit-vipers, which means they have a pit near each nostril. It’s highly sensitive to heat and helps the snake locate warm-blooded prey.
There are several different species of rattlesnakes throughout the United States. The most common are the Eastern Diamondback, the Western Diamondback, and the Timber rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are common across the United States, but the highest concentration of them is in the southwestern part of the U.S., particularly Arizona and New Mexico.
The southeast part of the United States is where you will find the Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake. The Pinelands of Florida, coastal plains of North Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana is where this type of rattler calls home. They like to hang out in scrublands, coastal forests, barrier islands, and pine forests. You can also find them in overgrown fields or farmland that are no longer in use.
Eastern Diamondback snakes mate in the spring and fall. Females will give birth to between 12 and 24 babies in late summer but only reproduce every two or three years.
You can find Western Diamondback rattlesnakes in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. It’s not picky when it comes to finding a home. Western Diamondbacks live in deserts, grassy plains, forests, rocky hills, and even along the coast.
Mating for Western Diamondbacks happens in the spring and females are three years old before they can reproduce. Females usually have between ten and 20 young at one time.
Timber rattlesnakes call the eastern half of the U.S. home. They can be found from the southern parts of Minnesota and New Hampshire all the way to Florida and as far west as Texas. You can find them in lowland cane thickets, rugged parts of forests, high areas of swamps, pine and hardwood forests, and on farmland. Timber rattlesnakes aren’t seen too often in urban or developed areas.
Female Timber rattlesnakes don’t start reproducing until they are five years old and usually wait two or three years between litters. Baby Timbers are born in late summer or early fall.
Cottonmouths or Water Moccasins choose to live in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. You will find them most often in or near water—in marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, ditches, and canals. Female cottonmouths can have litters with up to 20 babies, but only reproduce every two to three years.
The southern part of the United States is where you will find Coral snakes. It’s most prevalent in Florida but is scattered in southern coastal areas from North Carolina to Louisiana. Coral snakes live in areas with pine and scrub oak sandhills but can also like to live in hardwood forests. Coral snakes lay about six or seven eggs in early summer. The young hatch in late summer or early fall.
Copperheads can be found throughout the eastern and central parts of the United States, although you won’t find them in parts of Florida or Georgia. They live in forests, mountains, or rocky hillsides. Copperheads mate in the spring and the females give birth to between seven and ten babies at a time, but usually only reproduce every other year.
Garter snakes are common across the United States, most often in wet, open, grassy places. They like open fields near streams or ponds or near the edge of a wooded area. They are more tolerant of cold than a lot of other snakes and tend to hibernate in groups. You can often see them on warm days during the winter.
Rat snakes can live in every state in the Southeast, and most of the East and Midwest and have been spotted as far north as New England and Michigan. Their habitat of choice is in rocky, wooded hills, forests, river floodplains, and near swamps.
The eastern half of the United States from Florida to New England is where the Hognose snake calls home. They prefer to live in sandy soils, fields, farmland and coastal areas.
Black Racer snakes are found in the eastern part of the United States—from southern Maine to the Florida Keys. They can be found anywhere, but are most often in forest edges, fields and the edge of wetlands. You can also find them in agricultural areas.
Not to be confused with venomous Cottonmouths, water snakes live throughout the eastern and central portion of the United States. As their name implies, they like water and live in lakes, ponds, marshes, rivers, and streams.