Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae

Northern Scarletsnake
Cemophora coccinea copei

Photo of Adult Northern Scarletsnake courtesy of John White
Photo of Adult Northern Scarletsnake courtesy of John White

Size

14 - 20 inches. Record - 32 inches.

Appearance

  • Mimics the color and pattern of the venomous Eastern Coral Snake, however this non-venomous species has black separating the narrow yellow (sometimes white) blotches and broad red blotches (vs. “red with yellow, a dangerous fellow”).

  • It has a pointed red snout and a plain white or yellow belly.

  • Scales are not keeled.

  • Habitat Photo for Northern Scarletsnake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
    Habitat Photo for
    Northern Scarletsnake
    courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

    Habitats

    In or near loose well-drained sandy soils, typically in pine-dominated woods.

    How to Find

    A secretive burrowing species that little is known about, it is rarely found during daylight. Look under coarse woody debris in pine woodlands. Most individuals are observed by driving slowly along paved roads through pine woods in late spring and summer. Non-venomous. This is considered rare in the state and is listed as a Watchlist species. Any individuals found should be reported to DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

    Distribution in Maryland

    Found only on the Coastal Plain.

    Maryland Distribution map for Northern Scarletsnake

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    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.