Snake Identification

shellybabeJune 2, 2006

I am usually up to date on my reptile identification, living out in the woods I need to know what I am dealing with if I happen upon one. However my hubby and I have both seed snakes in different areas that are very similar and we just don't know what to make of them.

the one he saw had a black head and third of the body, the middle third was a bright red and the tail third was bright orange.

the one I saw had a black two thirds and the tail third was bright red and the tip of the tail was orange.

Both snakes were a good 4-6 feet long and as big around as a woman's lower arm, it is a large snake.

Is this some sort of a king snake or something?

It would always move quickly out of our way when it saw us comming, so I haven't been able to take any pics of it. And my reptile book doesn't have a pic to go by, so I figured perhaps someone with experience might know. Any help would be appreciated thank you

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this has really piqued my curiosity
so having done a google search it sounds like it could be a milk snake of some sort, as the Lousina milk snake can be multi colored with predomintly having a black head a sometimes a bright candy apple red color in the mid section but the orange tail has really got me puzzled ??
about all we have here in this part of Iowa is bull snakes and a occasional rattler .

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 6:45PM
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Thanks Zeke,
I looked everywhere I could think of, and all I could find with those colors were king and coral snakes, of which neither ones get that big!
One person on yahoo answers even said they really thought it was a copperhead!
I see at least 3-4 copperheads just around my house every year, I know a copperhead when I see one!
This was such an odd snake, I just had to ask, and so far your answer makes the most sense,I have had some doozies. from yahoo answers

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 11:26PM
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i could be wrong but aren't copperheads supposed to less than 2feet long ??

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 1:30PM
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well, I have killed a couple of them that were approx. 3 1/2 feet long but it was a very old one. On average they tend to be 2 feet or less. You are right.
I grew up in Michigan where all you mainly saw was an occasional blue racer or a garter snake, and then I moved to Hawaii where there are no snakes and then when I moved to Arkansas, wow, snakes everywhere! (seems like)
I have had to get quite an education about them!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 2:34PM
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I think they are Eastern Coachwhip Snakes. The ones in Arkansas, Missouri and Eastern Oklahoma are a unique color phase and tend to have much more dark on them than in the rest of the east.

They are large, long snakes that are typically in the 4 to 6 foot long range and can even reach a maximum of 8 feet.

They are really gorgeous snakes and harmless.

Anyhow from your description of the size and the variable shifting color pattern from head to tail that sounds like what you have.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 11:21AM
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Hi Shelly,

I've linked a coachwhip picture below so that you can see if it looks like your snake.

The ones in Missouri and Arkansas are very beautiful and can vary quite a bit in coloration. The head part is always dark and the snake goes from darker to lighter and flashier colors by the tail.

They are also the fastest snakes in North America. Even faster than Racers.

And they are very large snakes.

The coachwhip is the one in the second and third pictures in the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eastern Coachwhip Snake

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 2:47PM
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Thank you for the link!
The snake we saw did have a bright yellow/orange tail, but as you said they do have flashy colors at the tail. Again thank you for the link to the pics, it was most helpful, and puts my mind at ease.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 9:51PM
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Ok, I just got the crap scared out of me. I am 55 years old and have lived in SW Iowa all my life. I have lived here 36 years and my grandparents lived here 50 years. As far as snakes go I only see a few Garter Snakes, an occasional Bull Snake, and one Blue Racer when I was about 10, until today that is. I think I just saw a Rattlesnake. It was only a quick look as it slithered into the tall grass but it had a diamond pattern on it. It was not a large snake, 2-3 feet I'd say and about as big around as a 1" pipe. It was vibrating it's tail very rapidly but it sounded more like a bumble bee than a rattle. So my question is was this a rattler or is there another snake that mimics the rattler by vibrating it's tail? The last report of a rattler I heard of in this area was back in the 1960's. I may never walk through the tall grass again, yikes!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 8:21PM
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OMG I am glad I live in CA...LOL I have to deal with Rattlesnakes but those snakes sound huge!!!! Yikessss wouldn't be something I would want around in the yard... I guess the good thing it is harmless..(-: I really don't like any snakes though. We have all the normal ones here too the garter...racers...gopher...king...

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 9:10PM
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I don't know if they are native to your area but the fox snake will mimic a rattlesnake and vibrate its tail in defense. They are constrictors and as such are not a threat to humans. However, I prrobably wouldn't hang around long enough to make a proper identification.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 6:55AM
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Many species of non-venomous snakes will vibrate their tails. Some of the non-venomous species that do it the most are fox snakes, bull snakes, racers, rat snakes and king snakes.

A two to three foot rattlesnake would be very fat bodied. Also the sound you describe sounds more consistent with a non-venomous imitator.

My hunch from the overall description, behavior and location is that your snake was a Fox Snake.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 9:54AM
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