Black snakes are a common sight in Tennessee, and they play an important role in the state’s ecosystem. These snakes are predators, and they help to control the population of rodents and other small animals. Black snakes are also beneficial because they consume large amounts of insects.
However, these snakes can be dangerous to humans if they feel threatened. That is why it is important to be cautious around black snakes and to give them a wide berth. If you encounter a black snake, do not try to capture or kill it. Observe it from a safe distance and appreciate the vital role that it plays in the natural world.
Table of Contents
Black Snakes in Tennessee
Below is a compilation of 8 black snakes in Tennessee:
- Eastern black rat Snake
- Black Racer
- Midland water snake
- Black King Snake
- Black Milk Snake
- Black Pine Snake
- Red-Billed Mud Snake
- Eastern Hognose Snake
1. Eastern black rat snake
The Eastern rat snake is a large, non-venomous snake that is found throughout the eastern United States. In Tennessee, these snakes typically grow to be between 3 and 5 feet in length, although some may reach up to 6 feet. They are black in colour, with a white or cream-coloured chin and throat. These snakes are excellent climbers, and they are often seen in trees and shrubs.
These snakes hunt small mammals, birds, and eggs. They kill their prey by constriction, wrapping their bodies around the victim until it suffocates. Eastern black rat snakes mate in the spring, and the female will give birth to live young in late summer or early fall. The average litter size is between 10 and 20 babies. They are not considered threatened or endangered in Tennessee.
2. The Black Racer
Black Racers are one of the most common snakes in Tennessee. They are long and slender, with a black or dark brown body. The average length of an adult Racer snake is 3-6 feet, but they can grow up to 8 feet long. They have round heads with large eyes, and their mouths are filled with sharp teeth.
Black Racers are excellent swimmers and climbers, and they are often seen basking in the sun on tree branches or rocks. When threatened, Black Racers will sometimes coil up and strike at their attacker. However, they are generally shy and non-aggressive snakes, and they will usually try to flee if confronted by a human.
3. Midland water snake
The Midland Water Snake is a medium-sized snake that is found in the central and eastern United States. In Tennessee, these snakes are usually brown or reddish in colour, with dark blotches running down their backs. They typically grow to be between 2 and 4 feet in length, although some specimens can reach up to 6 feet. Midland Water Snakes are semi-aquatic, meaning that they spend a lot of time in or near water.
They are often seen basking on logs or rocks near streams and ponds, and they will enter the water to hunt for fish, frogs, and other small prey. These snakes are non-venomous and pose no threat to humans. However, they can be aggressive if they feel threatened, and will often coil their bodies and strike at anything that comes too close.
4. Black Kingsnake
The Black King snake is a non-venomous snake that is native to the southeastern United States. They are typically black with white or yellow bands and can grow to be between two and four feet in length. Black King snakes are carnivorous, and their diet consists primarily of rodents and other small mammals. They are also known to eat reptiles, amphibians, birds, and eggs.
Black King snakes are excellent swimmers, and they are often found near water sources such as streams or lakes. In terms of reproduction, Black King snakes are polygynous, meaning they mate with multiple females. Females will typically give birth to between four and twelve live young. Black King snakes are not considered to be endangered, but they are protected in some states due to habitat loss and collection for the pet trade.
5. Black milk snake
The black milk snake is a non-venomous snake that is found in North and Central America. It gets its name from the fact that it often feeds on milk snakes, a venomous snakes. The black milk snake is a constrictor, meaning that it kills its prey by wrapping itself around it and squeezing tightly. This snake typically grows to be between 3 and 4 feet long, though some specimens can reach up to 6 feet in length.
The black milk snake is black or dark brown in colour, with light-coloured bands running down its body. These snakes are generally shy and will try to avoid contact with humans. However, if they are disturbed, they may strike at their aggressor with their mouth open, though they will not actually bite. Black milk snakes are not considered to be threatened or endangered at this time.
6. Black Pine Snake
The Black pine snake is a non-venomous constrictor found in the forests of Tennessee. Adults can grow up to 2.5 meters in length, making them one of the largest snakes in the state. They are black or dark brown in colour, with a white or cream-coloured underside. Black pine snakes are shy and reclusive, spending most of their time hiding in trees and among rocks. When they do come down to ground level, they move slowly and cautiously, often wrapping themselves around tree trunks or logs for camouflage. Their diet consists primarily of rodents and small birds, which they kill by constriction.
Black pine snakes mate in late spring or early summer and give birth to live young approximately two months later. Litters typically contain between 2 and 20 snakelets, which are born blind and without functional venom glands. The young snakes must fend for themselves from birth, and have an average lifespan of 10-12 years in the wild.
7. Red-Bellied Mud Snake
The red-bellied mud snake is a non-venomous, semi-aquatic snake that is found throughout the southeastern United States. Adults typically measure between 2 and 4 feet in length, though some exceptional specimens have reached lengths of 6 feet or more. The snake gets its common name from its reddish-brown belly, which contrasted sharply with its dark brown or black back. The red-bellied mud snake is a shy and secretive creature that is seldom seen by humans.
The snake spends most of its time hidden beneath the mud and debris at the bottom of ponds, lakes, and streams. When disturbed, the snake will usually flee rather than fight. However, if cornered, the red-bellied mud snake will coil up and strike aggressively. Despite its sometimes belligerent behaviour, the red-bellied mud snake poses no threat to humans as it is not venomous.
8. Eastern Hognose Snake
The Eastern Hognose Snake is a non-venomous snake that is often found in the southeastern United States. In Tennessee, these snakes typically grow to be between two and three feet in length. They are relatively slender snakes, with a round cross-section and a blunt head. Eastern Hognose Snakes are usually brown or grey in colour, with darker bands running across their bodies. These snakes are relatively easy to care for and make great pets for snake enthusiasts of all levels of experience.
Other Snakes in Tennessee
What other snake species can you expect to come across in the Volunteer State?
Copperheads, identifiable by their coppery scales with evenly interspersed reddish-brown crossbands, are widespread throughout the state. These venomous snakes can reach lengths of up to 36 inches and are distinguished by their large triangular heads. Additionally, they possess facial pits.
Pine snakes are characterized by their whitish or yellowish scales adorned with dark brown or dark red patches on their back and sides. These sizeable and robust reptiles can grow up to 66 inches in length. While they are distributed across Tennessee, they are absent in certain regions, such as parts of the East, most of the West, and the Central Basin.
Pygmy Rattlesnakes are native to the western part of the Highland Rim in Tennessee. They are identifiable by alternating bands of dark brown and lighter brown set against a grey background. Typically, these snakes reach a maximum length of 20 inches.
Summary of 9 Black Snakes in Tennessee
|1||Eastern Black Rat Snake||West Tennessee around Reelfoot Lake|
|2||Black Racer||Eastern Tennessee|
|3||Midland water snake||Almost throughout Tennessee|
|4||Black Kingsnake||Throughout Tennessee|
|5||Black Milk Snake||Western Tennessee|
|6||Black Pined Snake||Throughout Tennessee|
|7||Red-billed Snake||Throughout Tennessee|
|8||Eastern Hognose Snake||East of the Mississippi River|
Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.