What are the Different Types of Snakes?

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Since the Garden of Eden, snakes have been a source of contention for humans. Though Eve lost her battle with the serpent, scientists have since learned that snakes are not only prolific, but useful, and most snakes are not venomous. Snakes can be found everywhere in the world except for New Zealand, Ireland, and a few other islands. Out of the approximately 2,700 species of snakes on the planet, less than 600 are venomous.

A Northern Pacific rattlesnake.
A Northern Pacific rattlesnake.

The Colubridae family of snakes makes up about two-thirds of all snakes in the world, most of which are not venomous. Garter snakes are a common non-venomous Colubrid snake that live both in water and on dry land. Garter snakes are found in every state in North America, Canada, and as far south as Central America. They eat mainly fish worms, and frogs, and their females bear live young.

A king snake.
A king snake.

Other non-venomous snakes include black snakes, racers, king snakes and rat snakes. Black snakes can be speedy and aggressive, quick to bite, but not venomous. They often have a constricting ability and are helpful to have around to control garden and household pests, such as mice. The king snake is a large, impressive snake that feeds on birds, rodents, and other small creatures. It is famous for being immune to the bite of a rattlesnake or copperhead.

A juvenile black rat snake.
A juvenile black rat snake.

Boas and pythons come from the family Boidae which includes some of the largest snakes in the world. Boas and pythons are known for squeezing their prey until it suffocates and then swallowing it whole. Found mainly from Mexico to South America, these large snakes often lie in wait next to watering sources and then attack animals that come to drink.

Some types of snakes are kept as pets.
Some types of snakes are kept as pets.

Venomous snakes are the ones we humans worry about the most. Venomous snakes, including the copperhead, water moccasin, and rattlesnake, belong to the pit viper family. Pit vipers have fangs that lie back against the roof of their mouths until they strike. They are named for the small pits located just behind their nostrils; these pits alert them to warm blooded creatures that might make a good meal.

Garter snakes are non-venomous and among the most common snakes in North America.
Garter snakes are non-venomous and among the most common snakes in North America.

Regular vipers are found mostly in Eurasia and Africa, and are similar to pit vipers, but often have geometric patterns on their skin. Coral snakes, asps, adders, and certain cobras belong to the viper family. Sea snakes are also a venomous snake that can grow to surprising lengths; they reside in the tropical seas of the world.

A green tree python.
A green tree python.
Venomous snakes have heart or diamond shaped heads.
Venomous snakes have heart or diamond shaped heads.
Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Paulla is a freelance writer and website editor who currently lives in Maine. Paulla has a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and over 15 years of experience as a freelancer. She relishes the flexibility and consistency of working on wiseGEEK articles, as well as the opportunity to constantly learn something new.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


I saw a reddish brown snake with beige rings on it. What kind was it? In Northern Michigan.


What is a death adder snake?


today morning i have seen a snake with dark yellow and green color and have concentric circles of dark green in inside and yellow outside and these circles are arranged in rows of two. What will be that snake?


In answer to #6, the snake in Oklahoma was a puff adder.


i was in bacalar lagoon mexico and my girlfriend was on a float in the water and a snake swam about three feet away from her. it went out deep and the head of the snake seemed to be out of the water. any idea what kind of snake it was?


i just saw a beige snake, about the size around of a finger, about 3' long traveling with its head up in the air. we are in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

any idea of type?


Many boas lay live eggs. The most common snakes that are pets are probably several species of boa constrictors and also the ball python. Ball pythons are probably the most common. These are non venomous snakes that constrict (choke) their prey. They can bite but are non-venomous.

Some boas and pythons are usually not dangerous because of this. But, some grow to be quite large. An 18-foot python might not be the best pet to have if you have cats, dogs or even small children running around the house.


I live in Idaho and the dessert is my back yard. The weather and climate varies. I was walking through a path in my back yard near some hay and some pine trees when i found a small light blue egg. Could it be a snake egg or a robins?


@anon60703: maybe it was a boa, python.


What are the names of all of the snakes in the Philippines? Please answer this ASAP!


hey i saw a huge snake about three feet long hanging from a tree in the amazon jungle. it was eating a chimpanzee and i want know what kind of snake it was? any ideas?


i live in sri lanka, and in a forest i found a green snake, about a foot long(maybe less) and i really want one to keep. It wasn't poisonous by the way. Any idea what its called?


When i grow up i'm going to be a herpetologist. What can i do to study?


okay, all snakes do not lay eggs to correct that, my dad and i have many snakes, including rattlesnakes and they do not lay eggs. they have a live and natural birth just like a human would.


they all lay eggs.


What kind of snake, from mexico, is about 13 inches long, tan to brown, white belly, and has white rings with some blue color on its head?


A friend and I were down by a stream and found a small bluish grayish snake, what kind is it? is it poisonous? please answer!


rantam5 The snake you are talking about is called a Spreading Adder, at least, that is what I have always heard them called


When we lived in Oklahoma,I had come across a snake that his head flared out like a Cobra, but have not figured out what kind of snake it actually was. I was just curious if you could tell me.

Also, I was wondering if you could tell me, now that I live in Colorado, what kind of snakes are common around this area.


i found a snake, solid tan white belly and a black stripe that splits in two at where it would lay on the ground. it had a bullet type head. was non-aggressive. about as thick as your thumb and was about 1 foot long. i can not find what kind of snake it is. any help?


Do garter snakes eat their young?


Which snakes lay eggs, versus those that bear live young?

What kinds of animals do boas commonly eat? How common are the kinds of South American boas that can attack small deer?

What kinds of snakes do people commonly keep as pets? Are there any that are illegal to keep as pets?

Post your comments
Forgot password?