Are Black Snakes Poisonous?

Snakes are amazing reptiles with numerous amusing facts. They are present in most continents of the world. There are over 20 families of snakes containing about 3,600 species.

The snakes vary in size, with the smallest measuring approximately 10.5 cm and reticulated python being the longest records above 10m long. Black snakes are a great example of the multitude group of snakes that exist. Black snakes are predators and prey, thus playing a significant role in the flow of natural food webs.

As the name suggests, black is the dominant color in black snakes. Generally, black snakes are carnivores, oviparous, non-venomous, and docile.

Most species are friendly to humans and can act as good pets. Being non-poisonous, some black snakes hunt by constricting and swallowing whole prey. Black snakes’ usually mate in the spring, after which females typically lay more than 25 eggs. They hide the eggs in secure places like in rotten vegetation, in manure, or under the stumps. 

To find out more about black snakes, keep reading this article, it contains all the information you want to know concerning such snakes. 

Types of Black Snakes

Types Of Black Snakes
Types Of Black Snakes

There are different types of black snakes existing in different parts of the world. The snakes comprising this group tend to be close to each other, making it difficult to differentiate them. You need a complete knowledge to be able to distinguish one type of black snake from another.

Black snakes, though, exhibit different characteristics in terms of habitation, skin appearance, etc. Such features can help you to confidently identify a black snake, as we are going to see in this article. Below are different types of black snakes. 

The Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsoletus)

Black Rat Snake
Black Rat Snake

Black Rat snakes are currently known as the Eastern Rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis).  Rat snakes are harmless and non-venomous. It is friendly to humans and can stay in gardens, farms, swampy areas, etc. Rodents are typical food to rat snakes, but they even hunt chipmunk, lizard, among others.  

Rat snakes have lustrous black scales on the body, a white belly, and chin, while hatchlings are grey with black spots through the body.

They are excellent tree climbers and swimmers. And they also have round pupils, and weakly keeled scales that aid in stridulation and can grow up to 2 meters.

They are present in New England, Texas, Canada, and northern Oklahoma. The snakes can bite when under threat.  

Black Swamp Snake (Seminatrix pygaea)

Black Swamp Snake
Black Swamp Snake

Species black swamp snakes have a shiny black body, and the belly is bright orange, while Juveniles portray the same coloration as adults. Mature snakes have an average body size of 47 cm long.

They have numerous scales on the underside and smooth back scales. Swamp snakes prefer to stay in watery environments, such as lakes, ponds, marshes, estuaries, prairies, etc. They are common in dense and moist vegetations, and they love burrowing. 

Swamp snakes exist in Florida, southern Alabama, and eastern Georgia. The snakes feed on tadpoles, frogs, small fish, salamander, and worms.

Like rat snakes, swamps snakes are non-poisonous. Swamp snakes are quite close to small mud snakes. However, mud snakes have a red belly with a black checkerboard pattern. 

Southern Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus punctatus)

Southern Ring-Necked Snake
Southern Ring-Necked Snake

Ring-necked snakes are slim and mature adults can measure 70.5 cm long. It expresses a variety of colors and patterns, which include; a grey to black back, yellow collar around the neck, yellow belly with black patch row.

These multi-colored snakes inhabit parts like; Florida and the Southeastern United States. It is harmless to humans and lays eggs.

However, the snakes produce little venom that they use to hunt their prey. Ring-necked snakes eat amphibians, small snakes, lizards, slugs, and other several invertebrates.

Such snakes dwell in coastal plains, rocks, prairies, under logs, and meadows where they obtain food. Vital ring-neck snake, unlike the southern snakes, has a gray body and sometimes a ring on the neck. 

Eastern Mud Snake (Farancia abacura)

Eastern Mud Snake
Eastern Mud Snake

Mud snakes are black on the back, with a black checkerboard pattern on the belly, the side is dark with a reddish-pink series. They have a flat head and constricted neck, and are prone to burrowing.

Farancia abacura inhabits areas like Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, East Virginia, etc. Mud snakes are egg layers, and are not poisonous. They cannot bite anyone. 

Mud snakes live in marshes, seasonal wetlands, ponds, ditches, slow-moving streams, and cypress swamps. They feed on salamanders, tadpoles, fishes and frogs. Mud snakes are burrowers and spend much of their time in actively moving water. 

Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor Priapus)

Southern Black Racer
Southern Black Racer

Black racers are slender with a jet black to gray dorsal side and belly, and a white chin. They have smooth and shiny scales. Juveniles have a gray body with non-uniform reddish-brown spots that disappear with age.

They are non-venomous snakes indicating that they are harmless. There are other various subspecies of racers that do not differ significantly from each other. These snakes mainly feed on moles, insects, lizards, small snakes, and rodents. 

Female black racers can lay up to 30 eggs in late June during spring, and they leave their eggs hidden nests. The snakes are speedy and can grow up to 2 m long. You can quickly identify them through their luminous white chin and a solid head. 

Black Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi)

Black Pine Snake
Black Pine Snake

Pine snakes express almost uniform black or dark brown color on the back and underside, but may show some white scales. Some individuals will show a trace of faint spots pattern on the tail. 

The snakes have circular pupils and keeled scales, and they are non-poisonous and lay eggs. These snakes stay in pine and mixed hardwood areas with dry sandy soil. 

They are perfect burrowers and normally spend much of their lives in underground burrows where they obtain food.  Primarily, they eat birds, reptile eggs, and small mammals.

Pure species of pine snake exist in southwestern Alabama and eastern Louisiana. Their crosses with Florida pine snakes are present in Florida. Adult snakes can grow up to 163 cm long. 

Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi)

Eastern Indigo Snake
Eastern Indigo Snake

Indigo snakes exhibit a bluish to black color on the back, and some individuals are reddish-orange on the chin, throat, and cheeks.

The snake inhabits areas like Florida, Alabama, and Southeastern Georgia, though their population is becoming extinct. Indigo snakes are non-venomous; they are harmless and rarely bite people. 

In case they experience a threat, indigo snakes hiss out noisily, while shaking their tail and making a rattling sound. The snakes live in scrubs, pine forests, hardwood and will visit wetlands to cool their body and search for food.

Indigo snakes feed on other snakes, mainly, the venomous snakes such as copperheads and rattlesnakes. Other diets include lizards, toads, frogs, small mammals, and birds. 

Black Snake Teeth

Black Snake Teeth
Black Snake Teeth

The majority of the black snakes have teeth, but only those that are poisonous have fangs. Snakes have four upper rows of teeth and two at the bottom.

Fangs are unique, erect, long, and indented teeth present in venomous snakes at the front or back of the mouth. The snakes use teeth to bite and inject venom into the prey during hunting, thus paralyzing them. 

Snake has a pleurodont dentition, meaning that the teeth attach to the inner jaw. The snake sheds and replaces the teeth.

Black snake teeth face towards the mouth to help them hold the prey firmly and trap it. The type of teeth in snakes depend on how the snake catches the prey. 

Do Black Snakes Kill Poisonous Snakes?

The majority of the black snakes are not poisonous, but they can feed on the venomous snake, and the venom does not affect them.

Some black snakes like rat snakes can eat the deadly copperheads snake. Black snakes can be useful in keeping away the poisonous snakes, especially in farms and homesteads.

Venomous snakes are aggressive and can easily bite anyone startling them. For instance, a black racer snake often hunts and eats poisonous snakes in N. America. However, black snakes don’t occasionally kill venomous snakes; instead, they can befriend them.  

Do Black Snakes Keep Copperheads Away?

Black snakes kill poisonous, and other snakes can help to keep copperhead snakes away but not ultimately. They will get rid of copperheads when they manage to kill them. 

Though, black snakes tend to associate well with copperheads and rattlesnakes.

Such behavior is standard during cold conditions, where the snakes prefer to stay together and hibernate to warm themselves. So, depending on black snakes to get rid of copperheads will not be a proper method to choose.

A black snake indeed eats poisonous snakes, but it is a myth to believe they can keep all the copperheads, or birds away. Other measures can help to keep copperhead snakes away, such as using repellants. 

Bonus: Can black snakes bite through your boots?

No, black snakes cannot bite through your boots. But I recommend one to wear snake-resistant clothing, which is meant to keep the snake’s fangs away from your skin. For starters, wear tall leather boots—few snake fangs can penetrate leather. Then, wear loose-fitting trousers that extend well below the top of the boot (or that can be secured around the boot so that they billow out above the boot). 

Conclusion

The majority of black snakes are non-poisonous with a few specimens producing a little venom, but they are still harmless. It is so unfortunate that the snake population is greatly diminishing around the world. 

The decrease occurs due to several factors such as diseases, destruction of habitat, climate change, invasive species, increased deaths, and some other activities. We need to save our snakes from perishing. We cannot afford to lose snakes; they play crucial roles in the ecosystem. 

Black snakes are indeed harmless snakes, and they don’t possess any history of being lethal. They feed mainly on rodents, frogs, lizards, mice, rats, and will never attack you.

They may seem to scare many people who are afraid of snakes, but black snakes are friendly. Don’t kill these fascinating reptiles, and they will never have any ill will.  You can socialize with black snakes as long as you don’t threaten them.

Black Rat Snake

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