So, you’ve been planning to head towards Oklahoma, but you want to know some more info about the local fauna. It makes sense, especially if you plan on camping while you’re there.
If you’re more interested in the snake population, which you should be because it’s quite diverse, you’re in the right place.
Today, we will discuss the 19 snake species that you’re likely to encounter during your wild strolling. Let’s get to it!
1. Broad-Banded Water Snake
This species prefers the proximity of water as it qualifies as a semi-aquatic snake. Its entire lifestyle revolves around being near water, in various ecosystems like marshes, swamps, lakes, rivers, and any other body of water you can find.
The snake is non-venomous, so don’t get intimidated by its bright coloring, which is usually indicative of a venomous bite.
Broad-banded water snakes come in various colors, like brown, orange, red, black, and grey, and they share a similar pattern. The snake can reach up to 36 inches, so it’s fairly long, but most specimens only grow up to 20-ish.
The body is long and slim, and the tail is even longer and thinner, which is typical among water snakes in general.
These snakes prefer to consume semi-aquatic prey like amphibians, other reptiles, and fish but won’t say no to any other animal small enough for them to hunt. The broad-banded water snake is docile and shy, so you shouldn’t worry about it biting or attacking.
Interestingly, this species relies on mimicking the appearance of venomous species to provide an extra layer of protection.
Many broad-banded water snakes may resemble rattlesnakes or copperheads, which is usually enough to deter predators. And you, most likely.
This time we have a venomous one. Copperheads are highly recognizable by their leaf-life color pattern and warm coloring that includes yellow, brown, grey, and orange with different intensities.
Copperheads inhabit a variety of environments like forests, swampy areas, rocky hillsides, and other vegetation-rich ecosystems. The snake relies on camouflage and ambush strikes to hunt and secure their prey.
You can tell that the snake is venomous by its stocky body, triangle-shaped head with powerful jaws, and elliptical retina. These are standard, recognizable features in all venomous species.
The typical copperhead can reach 25-35 inches, depending on the specimen, so it’s by no means small. The problem is the snake’s camouflaging abilities, allowing it to blend in its environment extremely easily.
So, you might have difficulties spotting it right away, which isn’t good news, given the snake’s envenomed bite.
Fortunately, copperheads like to keep their distance and will only bite when threatened or feeling trapped.
Also, the venom isn’t necessarily deadly to humans, but it will cause significant pain and inflammation, in which case medical assistance is still needed.
3. Dekay’s Brown Snake
This is one of the smallest and cutest snakes on the list. Dekay’s brown snake is, well, brown.
Not all specimens share the exact same color, as some come with different variations of brown, while others may even appear light or dark grey. But you can’t say that this species excels in the color department.
Otherwise, the snake is small, only growing up to 9-15 inches, and comes with a slim and delicate body. This isn’t a venomous snake, so you have nothing to fear.
The snake’s shy nature, impressive agility, low profile, and high adaptability have allowed it to thrive in numerous ecosystems, including urban settlements.
Their preferred prey includes insects, snails, worms, and a variety of other pests, making them quite popular among snake lovers. They also make for great pets for children due to them being docile and friendly.
4. Eastern Hognose Snake
The Eastern hognose snake is an awkward entry if you’re not familiar with the species. This snake can grow up to 20-35 inches, but its most noticeable feature is its overall appearance.
The head and neck, to be more precise. Hognose snakes have a flat head and neck area with an uplifted nose. The eyes also have slightly raised eyebrows, and the face is very small. These facial features make the snake look like a frog more than anything else.
In terms of coloring, expect brown, red, black, yellow, and several other nuances, usually with spotted or banded patterns.
While the hognose snake can consume a variety of prey, they prefer toads whenever possible, which is ironic given that the snake kind of looks like one.
Because the species is non-venomous, the snake relies on jaw strength to subdue the prey. They will often even swallow it while still alive to save themselves from the trouble of wrestling with it.
This species inhabits a variety of habitats, including savannas, sandhills, grasslands, and even urban areas.
So, you’re likely to encounter this one even if you don’t venture out into the wild. Nothing to fear, the Eastern hognose snake is shy and doesn’t attack humans.
5. Eastern Racer
We’re now moving on to one of the longest snakes you can find around Oklahoma. The Eastern racer can reach 50-75 inches and possess a slender and agile body.
They can move fast and prefer to run when encountering humans. It makes sense because they are non-venomous, so they don’t pose any real threat to beasts as large as we are.
This species is most commonly found in ecosystems like forests, grass fields, and even suburban regions, where it can find rodents, birds, lizards, and insects. The snake can consume a variety of prey, and it relies on its speed and agility to secure its meals.
This species may appear quite scary to the uninitiated due to its black body, shiny scales, and black and large eyes. But the Eastern racer is a shy animal that will most likely flee your presence.
However, if you surprise it, it may freeze up instead of running. This isn’t an aggressive posture but a defensive one. The snake simply hopes that you will not acknowledge its presence if it stands still, a tactic that is known to work quite often.
6. Graham’s Crayfish Snake
This species is highly recognizable by its 2-colored body and trademark pattern. Graham’s crayfish snakes show little-to-no color variation, as pretty much all of them are brown or black with white or light-yellow underbellies.
This snake’s name comes from its preference for crayfish, as it mostly inhabits and hunts in semi-aquatic habitats.
But the reptile will eat whatever it can catch, including small mammals, fish, other smaller snakes, birds, etc. The method of hunting involves speed and agility, exactly like the Eastern racer. The 2 species are actually quite similar in terms of physical abilities.
Graham’s crayfish snake is also docile and prefers to avoid human contact whenever possible. If you force the contact, the snake will most likely freeze and light-speed out of there at the first sign of a breakthrough.
7. Gulf Crayfish Snake
The gulf crayfish snake looks exactly like you imagine a semi-aquatic snake looks: dark coloring, slim and slippery body, and large and shiny scales.
Most specimens can only grow up to 16 inches and will showcase a dark-brown body with a yellow underbelly. The snake has large eyes and a long and thin tail to help with swimming.
This species lives and hunts in semi-aquatic ecosystems like marshes, rivers, and swamps. It will come on land several times per day to warm up and explore the surrounding habitat, but it will never leave its safe zone for too long.
Just like Graham’s crayfish snake, this species also specializes in crayfish, with a variety of side dishes like frogs, fish, smaller snakes, other reptiles, etc.
This is a docile and innocuous fish that prefers solitude and peace. You can tell that it is harmless by its round pupils and its ability to flee at lightning speed when threatened.
8. Kansas Glossy Snake
The Kansas glossy snake is a 25-40-inch reptile that’s most often found in prairies, woodlands, and savannas. The snake prefers to hunt in open vegetation where it can move with ease and close the distance to the prey fast.
This species comes with warm colors like brown and yellow, and most specimens exhibit a rhomboid-like pattern.
The typical prey includes small mammals, birds, and small reptiles like lizards, which are in their typical habitat that thrives in. The hunting tactic is simple: the snake spots the prey, it approaches slowly, and uses speed and agility to bite and subdue it.
This species isn’t as shy as others on today’s list. The Kansas glossy snake cannot hurt you, but it won’t necessarily back down, either. This snake is notorious for its ‘keep your ground’ attitude, which is often enough to intimidate any potential predators.
The snake’s appearance resembles that of a rattlesnake due to its distinct pattern. Pair this with the reptile’s tendency to curl up, increase its posture, and hiss loudly, and you get a threatening and scary animal.
It’s all for the show, though, because the glossy snake will use their attackers’ confusion and hesitation to flee the scene immediately.
The milksnake is not white, and it doesn’t drink or produce milk. So, the name might sound a bit confusing. And we won’t even return to this point during the presentation, just so that the confusion can linger.
This species is undeniably one of the most beautiful you can encounter in old Oklahoma. The snake can reach 25-35 inches, so it’s of decent size, but it’s the snake’s overall appearance that earns most of its appeal.
Milksnakes are typically red with white, yellow, black, and light grey bands. All specimens share the same color pattern, so they’re easily recognizable in the wild.
The snake’s body is slim and rather confusing due to the head shape, causing the predators to mistake the head for the tail.
These snakes inhabit habitats like forests, grasslands, and agricultural zones with small vegetation that they can traverse seamlessly. They are also multi-capable, as they can climb trees in pursuit of prey and for defensive purposes.
If you think that the milksnake has a familiar appearance, that’s because it is eerie similar to the coral snake. This is an evolutionary feature, as coral snakes are venomous, but milksnakes are not.
So, the milksnake is using the coral snake’s reputation as its own and with great success.
10. Northern Diamond-Backed Watersnake
This species is a peculiar one due to its overall appearance and body conformation. The Northern diamond-backed watersnake has a thick and powerful body, a triangle-shaped head with powerful jaws, and a rhomboid color pattern.
All of these traits are specific to venomous species, except this species is non-venomous.
So, its appearance is most likely linked to a mimicking behavior. Northern diamond-backed watersnakes are semi-aquatic animals that inhabit bodies of water like rivers, swamps, lakes, etc. The preferred meals are aquatic animals like fish, other snakes, and amphibians, but the snake won’t say no to anything.
One of the snake’s peculiarities, which goes hand-in-hand with its appearance, is its defensive behavior. Diamond-backed watersnakes can shake their tails, posture, and hiss when threatened, similar to a genuine rattlesnake.
This, paired with its appearance similar to the notorious venomous species, can deter predators from engaging.
If that doesn’t work, the snake may release a foul odor designed to have the same effect.
11. Orange-Striped Ribbonsnake
This is quite the mouthful of a name for such a small, thin, and cute animal. The ribbonsnake has a slim body and comes with 3 distinct orange stripes, one on its back and 2 on the sides. The snake can reach 20-30 inches in its adult form and grows to become an agile and slipper crawler.
Ribbonsnakes are widespread throughout the eastern US and Canada and can live and hunt in a variety of habitats. They prefer vegetation-rich ecosystems, but they can also spend time near water for easy access to life-saving resources.
The snake’s favorite meals include insects and worms due to their small heads and low body profile.
Interestingly, ribbonsnakes can inflate their head and body to appear larger and will often posture up to intimidate attackers. They are harmless, though, due to lacking venom and having a soft bite that cannot damage a human.
12. Plain-Bellied Watersnake
The plain-bellied watersnake is relatively long, between 30 and 50 inches, and comes with a black, shiny, and quite thick body.
They can flatten up when swimming or attacked, in one case to swim better, while in the other to intimidate their attackers. Most specimens are either black or brown, with different nuances, and display a white or yellow underbelly.
The snake prefers to feed on amphibians and other animals that live in or near the different water bodies that the snake prefers to call home. The primary hunting mechanism relies on ambush and quick striking, taking the prey by surprise.
This species is harmless to humans and will most likely flee when threatened. However, the snake doesn’t shy away from a confrontation and may resort to intimidation practices to discourage your intentions.
Some of these include posturing up, inflating the body, hissing, and releasing a foul odor that would make a skunk proud.
13. Prairie Kingsnake
Prairie kingsnakes rank as medium-sized reptiles, capable of reaching up to 45 inches as adults. The typical kingsnake is different shades of brown with an almost-rhomboid pattern, making the snake resemble a rattlesnake. You can tell the difference, though, quite easily via the oval-shaped head and round pupils, suggesting that you’re looking at a non-venomous and harmless reptile.
You can find this species in prairies (of course), grasslands, forests, and rocky habitats, where it hunts for rodents primarily. It will also eat lizards, birds, and other mammals, whenever the opportunity arises.
The snake doesn’t attack people, but it will resort to a variety of intimidation tactics to make its intentions clear.
These include inflating its body, hissing, and releasing foul bombs that can deter anything with a nose.
14. Ring-Necked Snake
Ring-necked snakes are quite handsome due to their vivid coloring and cute and fragile appearance. They can only reach 15 inches as their maximum size and are typically black with a red or orange underbelly.
They exhibit a multitude of color variations, though, as some bring a metallic grey into the mix as well. Their most noticeable feature is the color ring around the neck that matches the color of the underbelly.
This is a born burrower, as it prefers to dig burrows to escape predators and cool off when experiencing scorching heat. This is why you’re most likely to meet this one in areas with damp soil, preferably in grasslands, forests, and agricultural fields.
Due to its small size, the ring-necked snake feeds on insects and worms, but won’t say no to slightly larger prey if given the opportunity.
This species is harmless to humans and actually acts as a pest deterrent, thanks to its dietary preferences.
15. Rough Green Snake
The rough green snake is probably the most harmless-looking reptile on today’s list. While the snake can grow up to 20-33 inches, the reptile comes with a long and slender body, which doesn’t help if the goal is to look as mean as possible.
All specimens are green with light-green or yellow underbellies and showcase very little color variation. This causes all snakes to look alike. The eyes are the snake’s most distinctive feature, as they are black and clearly oversized compared to the head.
This snake inhabits a variety of ecosystems but prefers to blend in vegetation-rich habitats, where it can take vantage points on tree branches in wait for food. The snake relies on camouflage and ambush to secure its meals, which consist of insects and small vertebrates.
In terms of behavior, the rough greensnake is a solitary and shy animal. It tends to remain motionless in the presence of danger and will use its agility to flee the scene if things go south.
It is not a risk to humans because it is not venomous and doesn’t use to bite.
16. Speckled Kingsnake
The speckled kingsnake is definitely an eye candy; probably the most unexpected reptile you can stumble across in the wild.
The typical speckled kingsnake looks exactly like you imagine it: with a black body covered by hundreds or thousands of small yellow dots. The fact that the entire body is covered head-to-tail with yellow dots makes it difficult to tell where the snake’s head actually is. Which is most likely the intended purpose anyway.
This snake can reach 35-50 inches in length and displays a thick and powerful body. It is a non-venomous species that prefers to hunt in grasslands and other vegetation-rich ecosystems.
The snake’s many meals consist of rodents, but they can easily eat a variety of other prey, like birds, reptiles, and small mammals. They’re not that common near human settlements, but you should have no problems finding them in the wild thanks to their flashy appearance.
Fortunately, speckled kingsnakes are relatively docile and prefer to flee when threatened.
If that’s not an immediate option, they may hiss, posture up, and fill the area with their unpleasant smell.
17. Timber Rattlesnake
As the name suggests, this is a species of rattlesnake that is quite common across the entire Eastern US.
This species can reach 3-5 feet in length, depending on the specimen, and prefers to inhabit rocky regions where it uses the habitat layout to approach and strike prey unaware of its presence.
The snake is quite recognizable thanks to its powerful body, triangle-shaped head, and distinct rhomboid pattern. The ringtails and the ominous sound the reptile lets out are also pretty good notes on the species’ business card.
This snake uses a powerful venom that’s a mix between hemotoxins and neurotoxins, delivering a variety of effects. These include tissue damage, paralysis, difficulty breathing, and even kidney damage.
Fortunately, the snake isn’t exactly aggressive towards humans unless it has no other chance. The reptile prefers to make its presence known by curling in a ball and vibrating its tail.
The distinct sound should be enough to inform you of its presence. If that doesn’t work, only then will the snake hit if it feels cornered or threatened enough. So, keeping your distance would be the smartest move.
18. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
This species is pretty much iconic in the southeastern US and northern Mexico. The western diamondback can grow up to 6 feet and comes with a powerful and thick body and a wide head.
The snake’s mean expression comes from the short distance between the eyes and the inclined eyebrows. The snake’s body is covered by armored scales and exhibits a diamond-shaped pattern.
The color is almost always earthy-looking, with nuances like brown, orange, and grey. These allow the snake to blend into its ecosystem, making it difficult for prey and predators alike to spot the reptile.
The primary hunting tactic involves ambushing and injecting the deadly venom, which will subdue the prey fairly easily. While the snake prefers to avoid confrontations, it definitely doesn’t shy away from facing the threat head-on.
If you hear the distinct buzzing sound associated with the tail rings, keep your distance and go around.
Rattlesnakes prefer to avoid biting because they need their venom to hunt. But they won’t hesitate to bite multiple times when they think their lives are at stake.
19. Western Wormsnake
We close today’s list with the smallest and cutest entry: the wormsnake. This small reptile can only reach up to 11 inches, although most specimens won’t even get there.
This reptile may appear as a worm to an untrained eye due to its thin and slender body, paired with the snake’s movement and overall shape. It may be difficult to tell where the body begins and when it ends, as the head and tail are very similar in shape.
The snake is almost always a blend between black and red (black back and red underbelly), often of different intensities.
The western wormsnake is a burrower, as it prefers to dig itself into the ground to avoid predation. This is actually preferable due to the snake’s flashy coloring.
This reptile’s favorite diet consists of earthworms and other insects, as well as reptile and bird eggs, which it can find during its many underground incursions. The snake is not a threat to humans, as it is not venomous, and its bite is harmless.
Interestingly, though, the western wormsnake is a constrictor, which is unusual for a snake this size.
Today’s list of 19 Oklahoma snakes you can find in the wild is the perfect example of life’s diversity and adaptability.
You can encounter a multitude of reptiles during your daily strolls, some meaner than others.
Always treat snakes with respect, and they will return the favor. Disrespect them and take them for granted, and some of them will return that favor as well.