According to Southern Reptile Education, 42 species of snake are native to the state of Georgia. Five of these species are venomous, and the remaining 37 are completely harmless to humans. Many of Georgia's snakes can be predominantly brown in color, so identifying them can prove challenging.
Brown and Redbelly Snakes
Brown and redbelly snakes belong the the genus Storeria, and both species live in Georgia. These snakes are small, seldom longer than 12 inches, and spend most of their time under rotting logs and other debris. They are usually uniform brown or gray on top, and the redbelly snake is orange or reddish underneath. These snakes are difficult to distinguish from the earth snake.
Earth snakes belong to the genus Virginia, and there are two species in Georgia. They look very similar to the brown and redbelly snakes: they are less than 12 inches in length, uniform brown on top and usually stay hidden underground or under debris. They often appear slightly shiny or irridescent, while redbelly and brown snakes seem dull and flat.
The crowned snakes belong to the genus Tantilla, and two species are in Georgia. These snakes are tiny and uniformly brown, but they are easily distinguished from all other Georgian snakes by their completely black heads.
Two species of crayfish snake live in Georgia and both belong to the genus Regina. These are medium-sized snakes that may exceed 24 inches in length. As they prefer to eat crayfish, they are almost always found near the water. They are uniform brown or lightly striped on the back and have yellow stripes on the lower sides of the body and a yellowish belly.
The pine snake belongs to the genus Pituophis and there is only one species in Georgia. Pine snakes are very large, sometimes exceeding 6 feet in length. Still, they are completely harmless if left alone. Pine snakes have a light brownish background color with darker brown or black blotches running down the back. If cornered they will rear up and hiss loudly, unlike any other Georgian snake.
Water snakes belong to the genus Nerodia, and five species are native to Georgia. As their name implies, they are almost always found near the water. Water snakes are large and heavy-bodied, sometimes reaching 5 feet in length. Although they are often mistaken for water moccasins, they are nonvenomous. When they are young they often have a clear, banded or blotched pattern, but as they age they become more uniformly greenish, brown, gray or black.
Coachwhips belong to the genus Masticophis, and there is only one in Georgia. These slender snakes may exceed 5 feet in length. Coachwhips are very fast, and are usually only seen as they dart into long grass. They are typically black or dark brown on the head and gradually fade to light brown or tan on the tail.
Milk snakes belong to the genus Lampropeltis and there is just one species in Georgia. Milk snakes sometimes reach 4 feet in length and are very slender. Their background color is usually light gray or brown, and they have darker brown or reddish blotches on the back. Each blotch is surrounded by a black border.
The hognose snakes are in the genus Heterodon, and two species are native to Georgia. They are medium-sized and stout-bodied. Hognoses may reach 3 feet in length. Both Georgian species are light brown with darker brown blotches, although large individuals can be more uniformly brown, black or olive green. As their name implies, these species have an upturned snout, which distinguishes them from all other Georgian snakes.
There are four pit-viper species in Georgia: two rattlesnakes, the cottonmouth and the copperhead. All of these species are venomous, and all are frequently brown in color. All share a broad triangular head, slitlike pupils and a stocky body. These snakes are peaceful and slow-moving, but take care not to approach them closely.
- Animal South; Snakes of GA; 2011
- "Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America"; Roger Conant and Joseph T. Collins; 1998
- James Woodson/Photodisc/Getty Images