Snake Identification Keys

This identification key uses questions and answers to help identify the actual species of snake encountered. The questions are simplistic, you should follow the result link to the description page for the snake species and see if it fits. Also check the species description page for similar species, as there may be additional keys useful in distinguishing a particular species from similar species.

At this time, there either are no or few images. Photographs for this identification guide will largely come in 2010.

1. Eyes - The Starting Point

Are the pupils vertical or round?

Vertical
Goto 2
Round
Goto 4
[Vertical Pupils] [Round Pupils]
 

2. Patterned or Patternless

Is the snake patternless with a stubby tail?

Yes
Goto Northern Rubber Boa
No
Goto 3
[Norpac Rattlesnake]
 

3. Heavy Bodied

Is it a heavy bodied snake with a very wide head?

Yes
Goto Western Rattlesnake
No
Goto Coast Nightsnake
[Norpac Rattlesnake]
 

4. Anal Plate

Does the snake have a divided anal plate?

The Anal Plate is the scale covering the vent. It is the large scale between the ventral scales and the Caudal scales.

Yes
Goto 5
No
Goto 9
[Divided Anal Plate] [Single Anal Plate]
 

5. Sharp Tail

Is it a small snake with a sharp pointed tail?

Yes
Goto Common Sharp-tailed Snake
No
Goto 6
 

6. Neck Ring

Does the snake have a Red, Yellow, or Orange ring around the neck?

Yes
Goto Ring-necked Snake
No
Goto 7
 

7. Racers and Whipsnakes

You probably have a Racer or Whipsnake. Does the snake have white or cream stripes on the side where the dorsal scales meet the belly scales?

Yes
Goto 8
No
Goto North American Racer
 

8. Whipsnakes

Is the cream or white stripe bisected by a (possibly broken) black line?

Yes
Goto Striped Whipsnake
No
Goto Striped Racer
 

9. Dorsal Scale Keeling

Are the dorsal scales keeled or smooth?

Keeled
Goto 10
Smooth
Goto 11
[Keeled Scales] [Smooth Scales]
Above illustrations from the Online Guide to the Snakes of Florida at: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/FL-GUIDE/onlineguide.htm
Copyright © 1999, 2000 Florida Museum of Natural History. Used with permission.
 

10. Prefrontal Scales

Does it have four prefrontal scales?

Yes
Goto Gopher Snake
No
Goto Garter Snakes
 

11. Kingsnakes

Does it have red or orange rings bordered by black?

Yes
Goto California Mountain Kingsnake
No
Goto Common Kingsnake
 

Northern Rubber Boa

You possibly have a Northern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae).
For more information on this species: Northern Rubber Boa.

 

Western Rattlesnake

You possibly have a Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus).
For more information on this species: Western Rattlesnake.

[Western Rattlesnake]
 

Coast Nightsnake

You possibly have a Coast Nightsnake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha).
For more information on this species: Coast Nightsnake.

 

Common Sharp-tailed Snake

You possibly have a Common Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia tenuis).
For more information on this species: Common Sharp-tailed Snake.

[Common Sharp-tailed Snake]
 

Ring-necked Snake

You possibly have a Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus).
For more information on this species: Ring-necked Snake.

[Ring-necked Snake]
 

North American Racer

You possibly have a North American Racer (Coluber constrictor).
For more information on this species: North American Racer.

[North American Racer]
 

Striped Whipsnake

You possibly have a Striped Whipsnake (Coluber taeniatus).
For more information on this species: Striped Whipsnake.

 

Striped Racer

You possibly have a Striped Racer (Coluber lateralis).
For more information on this species: Striped Racer.

 

Gopher Snake

You possibly have a Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer).
For more information on this species: Gopher Snake.

 

California Mountain Kingsnake

You possibly have a California Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata).
For more information on this species: California Mountain Kingsnake.

 

Common Kingsnake

You possibly have a Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula).
For more information on this species: Common Kingsnake.

[Common Kingsnake]
 

Garter Snakes

You probably have a Garter Snake. To continue your identification, please see the Garter Snake Identification key specific to Shasta County Garter Snakes.

End Of Identification Key