A-z - Animals

47 snakes in Oklahoma

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key point:
  • Oklahoma has more snakes than almost any other state in the country – 47 different types.
  • Oklahoma has a variety of ecosystems spread over a vast area that provide the perfect habitat for a variety of snakes.
  • There are seven species of venomous snakes in Oklahoma — more than most states.

From lush prairies to multiple mountain ranges, Oklahoma has just about every type of natural landscape. Oklahoma has a lot of wildlife, including a lot of snakes. Oklahoma tops the list of states with the most snakes. There are nearly 50 species of native snakes in this state! Seven of these different types of snakes are venomous. So when you're in Oklahoma, it's a smart idea to pay close attention to the ground around you no matter what you're doing outdoors.

47 snakes in Oklahoma

Oklahoma state flag
Oklahoma tops the list of states with the most snakes.

© Box Lab/Shutterstock.com

Although Oklahoma may seem anomalously numerous when you think about how many different types of snakes live in Oklahoma, it doesn't seem surprising that there are so many. The several types of snakes you can find in Oklahoma are:

smooth snake

glossy swamp snake
Glossy snakes are nocturnal, which means you'll likely only see them late at night or early in the morning before sunrise.

©Nathan A Shepard/Shutterstock.com

The Glossy snake is a nocturnal snake that likes to hide, so in Oklahoma you probably won't see it unless you're out late at night or before dawn. Smooth snakes have smooth scales that are reflective, making them look like glass. They are usually gray or green with a white belly. The longest Glossy snakes can be up to four and a half feet long. But usually they are in the three to four foot range.

Great Plains Rat Snake

Juvenile eastern rat snakes have brown to black spots (sometimes yellowish) on a gray background and a somewhat square nose.
The Great Plains Rat Snake may look aggressive, but it's not.

©Patrick K. Campbell/Shutterstock.com

Great Plains Rat snakes can be brown and tan with large, irregular spots as markings. The rat snake never grows more than three feet long, but can be as small as two feet long. Rat snakes are heavy and may look aggressive, but they are not. They prefer to stay away from crowds. Great Plains ratsnakes are usually found in wooded areas or grasslands. They often live in old buildings, barns, and sheds, eating rodents they find in these structures. If you're cleaning out an old building, you might spot a Great Plains Rat snake, but if you don't bother it, it won't bother you.

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whip snake

Prairie Whip Snake
Whip snakes will bite when cornered, but they are non-venomous.

© Joe Farah/Shutterstock.com

Coachwhip snakes are found east and west of I-81 through Oklahoma, and each type of Coachwhip has a different color pattern depending on where the snake came from. The Eastern Coachwhip snake has a black upper body that fades to a reddish-brown lower half. The Western Coachwhip snake is solid in color, usually black with a pink belly. Whips can be up to six feet long and move very quickly. It can also climb, and if you startle it, it may seek shelter in a tree. These snakes will bite if they are cornered or if they think they are threatened but they are not venomous.

Prairie King Snake

Prairie King Snake (Lampropeltis calligaster) - Illinois
Prairie king snakes are sociable and don't mind the company of humans.

©bradenjalexander/Shutterstock.com

Prairie king snakes can be found throughout Oklahoma. These snakes are usually only three to four feet long, but they have a heavy exterior. The body of the prairie kingsnake is usually brown or tan, with dark brown or black markings all over the body. King snakes are sociable and don't mind being around people. Because they are not afraid of humans, they can often be found hunting or nesting around old buildings, fallen trees, and around homes and yards. Although prairie king snakes are not a threat to humans, you should still handle them with care. Any snake will bite or become aggressive if it feels threatened.

northern water snake

Northern water snake in water
The northern water snake may be confused with the venomous cottonmouth.

©iStock.com/manuellacoste

Northern water snakes are completely aquatic and can live in any type of water. Typically in Oklahoma you'll find them near lakes or ponds in the flat midlands, but you can also find them in mountain streams and other bodies of water. These snakes are not long. Some are not even two feet long. But their bodies are heavy and broad, so they appear larger than they are. Water snakes are similar in color to cottonmouths, but they are not as venomous as cottonmouths. If you're not sure whether a snake is a northern water snake or a cottonmouth, look at its mouth. If the area near the mouth is white, it may be a cottonmouth, but if there is no white, it is a nonvenomous northern water snake.

venomous snake in oklahoma

Oklahoma has a large number of venomous snakes compared to other states. It is one of the places with the highest number of venomous snakes. Some venomous snakes in Oklahoma are:

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Copperhead

What does a copperhead snake look like?
Copperheads are more likely to bite than other types of venomous snakes, so use caution when approaching them.

©Joe McDonald/Shutterstock.com

In Oklahoma, copperheads are found primarily in the eastern part of the state. Copperheads are plentiful, so always keep a keen eye out when you're raking leaves, mowing grass, or hiking in some of the state's many state parks. Copperhead snakes are only a few feet long, but they are very wide. You won't miss their distinctive copper color and distinctive markings, but they will rattle to let you know they're there. These snakes are more likely to bite than other types of venomous snakes, so use extra caution when approaching copperheads.

cottonmouth snake

cottonmouth snake
Cottonmouth snakes are aquatic and venomous. Be careful when boating and fishing in Oklahoma.

©Marcum Havens/Shutterstock.com

Cottonmouths are aquatic and venomous. So if you're the type of person who spends time boating or fishing near the water, you should keep an eye out for cottonmouth snakes. Cottonmouths are usually dark olive to black with a solid body color. Their bellies are usually white or cream in color. However, to tell if a snake is a Cottonmount, the feature you should look for is a white patch on the outside or inside of the snake's mouth. Baizui means cotton mouth. Cottonmouths are poisonous so be careful with them.

western diamondback rattlesnake

Western rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western rattlesnakes are found in western Oklahoma.

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The Western Diamond Back rattlesnake is found in western Oklahoma. These venomous snakes have alternating light and dark markings in a diamond pattern, making this snake easy to identify. Like most rattlesnakes, western rattlesnakes will rear up and rattle before attacking, which should give you time to back off slowly if you encounter a rattlesnake.

western pygmy snake

Iowa Snakes - Pygmy Diamondbacks
In Oklahoma, the western pygmy snake is found in the western and northern parts of the state.

© fivespots/Shutterstock.com

Another small venomous snake is the western pygmy snake. In Oklahoma, the snake is found primarily in the western and northern parts of the state. Some western pygmy snakes are only a foot and a half long. The longest ones are less than three feet long. Western Massasauga snakes are light brown to tan with dark brown markings.

Pygmy Rattlesnake

The pygmy rattlesnake is so small you probably won't be able to see it unless you're within striking range.

©Gerald A. DeBoer/Shutterstock.com

The pygmy rattlesnake is the smallest venomous snake. They are usually only a foot to a foot and a half long. Pygmy rattlesnakes are small and actually more dangerous than other, larger rattlesnakes. Because the gnome is so small, you probably won't be able to see it unless you're within range of the snake. If you startle a rattlesnake, or feel it cornered because you're too close, you probably won't hear the warning. Snakes may just bite. Pygmy rattlesnakes are venomous, and despite their small size, their venom is potent.

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Complete List of Oklahoma Snakes

If you're in the great outdoors in Oklahoma, there's a good chance you'll come across a snake. Whether you live there or are just here to fish, hike, work the outdoors, or just enjoy Oklahoma's beautiful countryside, chances are there are snakes around you. A full list of snakes you may see in Oklahoma is:

  • Copperhead
  • cottonmouth snake
  • western diamondback rattlesnake
  • Timber Rattlesnake
  • prairie rattlesnake
  • western pygmy snake
  • Pygmy Rattlesnake
  • smooth snake
  • worm snake
  • scarlet snake
  • southern black racer
  • ring necked snake
  • Great Plains Rat Snake
  • black rat snake
  • mud snake
  • western hognose snake
  • Oriental hognose snake
  • Texas Night Snake
  • Prairie King Snake
  • Desert Snake and Spotted King Snake
  • milk snake
  • blind snake
  • smooth water snake
  • whip snake
  • Yellow-bellied Hydra
  • broadband water snake
  • Diamondback Water Snake
  • northern water snake
  • rough green snake
  • bull snake
  • graham's water snake
  • Proboscis
  • Great Plains Ground Snake
  • brown snake
  • texas brown snake
  • red belly snake
  • flat headed snake
  • black snake
  • black necked garter snake
  • wandering garter snake
  • Checkered Garter Snake
  • western band snake
  • plains garter snake
  • texas garter snake
  • tattooed snake
  • Coarse Earth Snake
  • smooth ground snake

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featured image

cottonmouth snake
Cottonmouths are venomous snakes.

© Marcum Havens/Shutterstock.com


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Which Snakes to Watch Out for in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma has a large number of venomous snakes compared to other states. Some snakes to watch out for are the pygmy rattlesnake, cottonmouth, western diamondback, and copperhead.

Why Are There So Many Types of Snakes in Oklahoma?

From lush prairies to multiple mountain ranges, Oklahoma has just about every type of natural landscape. Oklahoma has a lot of wildlife, including a lot of snakes.

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