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Scientific name: Chordata: Reptilia: Testudinata: Colubridae:
Common Name: Snakes of the Washington, D.C., Area

Country: USA
State/District: MD
Date (D-M-Y): 2 - 6 - 2008

Photographer: E. M. Barrows

Identifier: E. M. Barrows
Collector: not applicable
Location: Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Washington, D.C., Area

Keywords: Snake, snakes
Additional Information: Snakes of the Washington, D.C., Area (WDCA)
(E.M.B., 2 June 2008)


In this article, I define the WDCA as Washington, D.C.; the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, and Fairfax County, VA; and Montgomery County, and Prince Georges County, MD.

The Great Value of Snakes

Snakes are highly valuable parts of food webs. In the Washington, D.C., Area (WDCA), hawks, owls, Snapping Turtles, and other organisms consume fresh snakes. Thousands of kinds of beneficial organisms consume dead and decaying snakes. In turn, snakes eat birds, earthworms, frogs, insects, mice, rats, other kinds of snakes, toads, and other organisms. Snakes are key parts of the balance of nature.

Further snakes are excellent animals for education about nature.

Revering Snakes

We should all respect snakes and let them live. We should learn to identify snakes correctly so that we do not let nonvenomous snakes needlessly alarm us.

Venomous Snakes

The only native snake with poisonous venom that still lives in the Washington, D.C., Area, is the Copperhead. I hear that Copperheads live along the Potomac River in rocky areas, but have not yet had a chance to see a Copperhead there.

This Snake List

Here is the first draft of an annotated list the native snake species of the WDCA. This list is not complete. This page is a work in progress.


BY = This is a snake species I have found in my yard in Bethesda, Maryland. PBDWA = There is a photograph of this genus on this website.


Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen, Northern Copperhead, venous. Do not disturb this species for your own safety, not to mention letting it live. People have brought in almost every kind of snake in the WDCA to the National Zoo (= Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park), thinking it is a Copperhead (Mr. Bela Demeter, biologist; formerly Head of the Department of Herpetology, Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park, Kojo Nnamdi Show, 2 June 2008).

Carphophis amoenus, Worm Snake

Coluber constrictor, Black Racer. Mr. Bela Demeter found this species along the Cheasapeake & Ohio Canal (Kojo Nnamdi Show, 2 June 2008).

Diadophis puncatatus, Ring-neck Snake

Elaphe obsoletea, Black Rat Snake (BY, PBDWA)

Nerioda sipedon, Northern Water Snake (PBDWA)

Opheodrys aestivus, Rough Green Snake

Regina septemvittata, Queen Snake

Storeria dekayi, Northern Brown Snake, Dekay’s Tree Snake (BY, PBDWA)

Thamnophis sauritus, Eastern Ribbon Snake

Thamnophis sirtalis, Eastern Garter Snake (BY)



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