Top 5 Black Snakes in Pennsylvania

Black Snakes in Pennsylvania
Photo by James Wainscoat

Snakes are notoriously misunderstood creatures, known for their strength, but now they are feared. Many people will flee if they see a snake, but most are not out to harm you.

Most Black snakes in Pennsylvania are very gentle and want to be left alone. The state does have three venomous snakes, but they will not attack unless provoked.

They’re even less likely to be the cause of your demise. Only about six people die yearly in the United States due to snake bites.

Snake Species in Pennsylvania

There are over 2,700 snake species in the world. But, how do scientists categorize all of these species? Snakes are classified into two families: the Colubridae and the Viperidae.

There are about 18 species of Colubrids In Pennsylvania, all of which are non-venomous. Let us explore five species of Black snakes in Pennsylvania.

1. Northern Black Racer

Coluber constrictor is one of the largest species of black snakes in Pennsylvania. They live for about ten years and can grow 36 to 60 inches (76.2cm to 152.4 cm) long.

Despite their ability to grow to incredible lengths, their bodies remain slim, allowing them to move at great speeds.

They are entirely black on their backs and stomachs. However, they have a small patch of white under their throat, and older coloration differs significantly from infantile coloration.

Northern Black Racers are gray with dark spots down their sides when they are young and brown spots down the middle of the back.

Hikers can find these snakes hiding under rocks and inside logs throughout Pennsylvania. It is not choosy about the type of habitat it prefers.

Snakes can be in various habitats, including fields, grasslands, woodlands, and rocky hills; they can even thrive along stream banks.

Northern Black Racers are also excellent climbers so you can find them in the branches of shrubs and trees.

The Northern Black Racer is not a threat to humans. However, this does not mean that you should attempt to pick up the snake; picking it up might be risky as it will try to bite concurrently.

So, snakes can cause bodily harm, but only if you threaten and harass them. Otherwise, it isn’t poisonous and won’t kill you.

Before going into attack mode, it will even try to slither away. If you push it, it will only feel the need to attack. These snakes are not constrictors, despite popular belief.

In addition, it behaves similarly to a rattlesnake. If you approach too closely, it will warn you by vibrating its tail against the ground, making a rattling sound. Although this does not sound like a rattlesnake, inexperienced hikers may be perplexed.

2. Black Rat Snake

 The Eastern Black Rat Snake, also known as Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta, is one of the most common and largest Black snakes in Pennsylvania.

Rat snakes are usually solid black. The underside of the snake will be white or yellow. On the underside, you’ll notice some gray mottling that will be gray or brown.

In contrast, the juveniles have a lot of patterning down their back and tail and splotches of gray and brown down their backs.

These markings turn to solid color by the time the snake reaches maturity, around two years old.

These are the largest snakes on this list, measuring 40 to 101inches (101.6 cm to 256.54 cm); however, unlike most snakes, which have rounded bellies, the belly of the Black Rat Snake is flat, so the sides meet at an angle.

These snakes can Survive for over 20 years, so it’s no surprise they can grow to such enormous proportions. They have lots of time to grow large.

Some people mistake the Black Rat Snake with the Black Racer, but there are some differences between the two.

The head of the Black Racer is narrow, whereas the head of the Black Rat Snake is square and broad, with a flat mouth. In addition, the Black Rat Snake’s scales will be keeled and have other colors between them.

These colors will not appear between the rankings of the Black Racer, and the scales are completely smooth.

Black Rat Snakes are common Black snakes in Pennsylvania and reside throughout the state. They are also not choosy about where they live.

They prefer bushland, fields, barns, and farmland. Black Rat Snakes prefer farms due to the abundance of rodents since it is an excellent source of easy food for the snakes.

They’re also excellent climbers and will climb into tree hollows to escape the heat. When it gets too cold in the winter, the Black Rat Snake will seek out underground dens, often sharing them with rattlesnakes and copperheads.

Thankfully, despite their size, these snakes are completely harmless. They are not poisonous and pose no harm to humans. However, they have musk glands that can emit a foul-smelling liquid when threatened.

3. Northern Water Snake

The violent reputation of the northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) is well-deserved. They approach anglers on land or in boats.

Water snakes will defend their resting locations, and they will not avoid humans when pursuing food. If confronted, keep your distance and retreat.

Handling water snakes is not recommended, and they have powerful jaws that can give a vicious bite. To make matters worse, water snake bites bleed excessively due to the snake’s saliva’s anticoagulant properties.

The northern water crawler is a Black snake in Pennsylvania; these predators seek food, lounge in the sun, swim beneath and across the water, or crawl around roots in their riparian habitat is interesting.

This medium-sized snake is found near water and has a few distinguishing characteristics. The head and neck are distinct and well-defined.

The main body coloration is an alternating dark pattern of blotches on its back and sides, commonly referred to as alternating saddles, and is widest at the mid-body.

As the water snake ages, the bands and blotches mix, becoming almost black at times.

4. Queen Snake

One of the typical Black Snakes in Pennsylvania is the Queen Snake or Regina septemvittata. Because their bodies are mostly dark in color, these snakes resemble rat snakes.

They remain much smaller, only reaching lengths of 15 to 36 inches (38.1 cm to 91.44 cm). They can also live to be 19 years old.

However, the coloration is not always the same as that of the rat snake. Queen Snakes come in various colors, including tans, browns, and blacks.

They have a yellow stripe down the lower side of their body, and their tummy is also yellow. Aside from the yellow, the stomach features four distinct brown lines that run the length of it.

However, The Queen Snake is relatively widespread in Pennsylvania, only in the western third and southeastern third of the state.

Because this snake enjoys swimming in the water, it is frequently confused with water moccasin. On the other hand, the Queen Snake is completely harmless, unlike the water moccasin.

Don’t be startled if you see this snake swimming near you when swimming in a river or stream. These snakes live in water and are excellent swimmers.

If the animal feels threatened, it will seek refuge in the water. Still, the Queen Snake is not fond of all water, and it prefers small-bodied rivers and streams and avoids larger rivers and other bodies of water, such as lakes and ponds.

The Queen Snake, unlike other snakes, does not enjoy basking; instead, it prefers swimming toward the water’s surface, where it will receive enough sunlight.

In conclusion, These snakes are completely harmless and will escape into the water if you approach them.

5. Northern Ring-Necked Snake

Diadophis punctatus edwardsii is one of the most easily seen Black snakes in Pennsylvania; the light-colored ring at the base of their neck gives these snakes their name. The color of this ring is most often golden or yellow.

However, The rest of their body is usually dark gray, but you may occasionally see black snakes. Their underside is yellow, like the ring on their neck. Some snakes have black dots down the center of their stomach.

Each snake will grow to 10-24 inches (25.4 cm to 60.96 cm), but their bodies will remain slim. They have a lifespan of up to 20 -25 years.

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