Snakes are an integral part of Maryland’s fauna, functioning as important predators. Snakes are limbless reptiles with elongate bodies that are covered with scales. All snakes lack external ear openings and eyelids and have long, forked tongues. Maryland is home to 27 species and sub-species of snakes, including two with medically significant venom, the copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. These two species are found in the viper family (Viperidae). The remaining species are in the family Colubridae, which is the largest snake family in the world. For more information on venomous snakes in Maryland, check out our venomous snakes page. Here is our easy photo guide to common snakes of Maryland.
Number of Species &
Subspecies in Maryland
Pit Vipers (Subfamily Crotalinae)
There are two species of pit vipers found in Maryland, the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) and the eastern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix). Both of these species are dangerously venomous and should be treated with caution. Do not approach or handle these snakes as a bite could be fatal. As the name implies the pit vipers have a heat seeking pit between each eye and nostril. The pit vipers also differ noticeably from the colubrids by having vertical pupils, and undivided subcaudal scales (Conant and Collins 1998).
For more information on Maryland’s venomous snakes, please click here. For visuals of snake anatomy features, please click here.
Colubrids (Family Colubridae)
Maryland colubrids differ from vipers by having round pupils in the eyes, no heat seeking pit between each eye and nostril, a complete set of divided sub-caudal scales, and a series of large plates (scales) on the dorsum of the head.
There are 25 different types of snakes (including sub-species) from the Family Colubridae that can be found in Maryland. Due to the large number of genera (16) and the relatively few species within each genus (no more than two), identification of Maryland colubrids to genus is not discussed here. Species and sub-species descriptions follow.
Click on the common name for more information on each snake species and subspecies.