Are you wondering “what kind of snakes are in Colorado?” Colorado is home to a variety of native and non-native snake species. From the harmless garter snake to the venomous rattlesnake, this article will help you discover the different types of snakes that can be found in the state. Read on to learn more about the different types of snakes that call Colorado home.
Types of Snakes Found in Colorado
Common Garter Snake
The common garter snake is a small, nonvenomous snake found across North America. It is the most widespread reptile in Colorado, inhabiting both urban and rural areas.
Western Worm Snake
The western worm snake is a small, burrowing snake found in western Colorado. It is nonvenomous and harmless to humans.
Western Ribbon Snake
The western ribbon snake is a medium-sized, nonvenomous snake found in western Colorado. It is an aquatic species and feeds on fish, frogs, and other small aquatic animals.
Plains Garter Snake
The plains garter snake is a medium-sized, nonvenomous snake found in eastern Colorado. It is an active forager and feeds on small invertebrates, amphibians, and occasionally small mammals.
The racer is a medium-sized, nonvenomous snake found in eastern Colorado. It is an active predator and feeds on small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
The bullsnake is a large, nonvenomous snake found in western Colorado. It is an active predator and feeds on small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
The prairie rattlesnake is a large, venomous snake found in western and central Colorado. It is an ambush predator and feeds on small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Great Basin Rattlesnake
The great basin rattlesnake is a large, venomous snake found in eastern Colorado. It is an ambush predator and feeds on small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
9 Western Terrestrial Garter Snake
- Thamnophis elegans
- One of the most common snakes in Colorado
- Found in a variety of habitats, including grassland, fields, and woodland
- Often seen in rocky areas near water
- Can be terrestrial or aquatic
- Adults are usually between 20-30 inches long
- Coloration is usually olive, brown, or black with yellow stripes
- Feeds primarily on worms, slugs, frogs, and small fish
10 Western Hognose Snake
|Size||Length up to 24 inches|
|Color||Variable combinations of brown, gray, and black|
|Behavior||Hiss and flatten their neck when threatened|
|Habitat||Mostly found in sandy soils in the plains, foothills and mountain meadows|
|Diet||Mainly amphibians, small mammals, and reptiles|
|Reproduction||Lay 4-35 eggs in late spring or early summer|
|Predators||Foxes, coyotes, hawks, and owls|
|Conservation Status||Not listed as endangered|
|Hibernation||Hibernate during the winter in dens|
|Range||Colorado, western Kansas, eastern Wyoming, and Nebraska|
Western Hognose Snakes are relatively small, reaching a maximum length of 24 inches. They have variable colors, usually combinations of brown, gray, and black. When threatened, they hiss and flatten their neck. Western Hognose Snakes are mostly found in sandy soils in the plains, foothills and mountain meadows. Their diet consists of mainly amphibians, small mammals, and reptiles. They lay 4 to 35 eggs in late spring or early summer. Predators of Western Hognose Snakes include foxes, coyotes, hawks, and owls. They are not listed as endangered and hibernate during the winter in dens. They can be found in Colorado, western Kansas, eastern Wyoming, and Nebraska.
Habitat of Snakes in Colorado
- Mountain areas are populated with garter snakes, rubber boas, and the occasional rattlesnake.
- The eastern plains are home to the prairie rattlesnake, bullsnake, and several species of garter snake.
- The southwestern desert regions are inhabited by the western diamondback rattlesnake, western terrestrial garter snake, and the midget faded rattlesnake.
- The northwestern region of Colorado has the least number of snake species with the bullsnake and the great basin gopher snake being the most commonly seen.
- The southeastern corner of the state is home to the prairie kingsnake, blotched & lined snakes, and the western hognose snake.
What to do if You Encounter a Snake
- Remain calm. Do not to make any sudden movements so that you do not startle the snake.
- Back away slowly. Do not turn your back on the snake. Keep your eyes on it at all times.
- Do not try to catch, harm or kill the snake.
- Do not attempt to pick up the snake.
- Keep children and pets away from the snake.
- If you need to move the snake, use a long stick or a shovel to gently guide it off the trail and out of your way.
- Call a licensed wildlife expert for removal if the snake is in an area of high human activity, such as your home, a campground or school.
Conservation and Preservation of Colorado’s Snakes
Colorado is home to 18 species of native snakes, all of which can be found in various habitats throughout the state. It is important to maintain the health of these species for the continued well-being of Colorado’s ecosystems. Many of the species are listed as species of concern or species of greatest conservation need due to threats such as habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change.
To ensure the preservation of these species, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department has initiated various conservation and preservation initiatives. All of the native snake species are afforded some protection under the Colorado Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Conservation Act, and they are managed through the Species of Special Concern Program. This program requires permits for research and collection of snakes, and provides educational materials and research opportunities to increase knowledge of the native species.
In addition to the Species of Special Concern Program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife also has a Snake Protection program. This program is designed to protect and conserve the native snake species by providing resources such as habitat restoration and protection, as well as public education and outreach.
|Western Hog-Nosed Snake||Species of Special Concern|
|Common Kingsnake||Species of Greatest Conservation Need|
|Northern Rubber Boa||Species of Special Concern|
|Plains Garter Snake||Species of Greatest Conservation Need|
|Great Plains Rat Snake||Species of Special Concern|
By implementing these initiatives, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is helping to ensure the continued survival of Colorado’s native snake species. It is important that all individuals take part in preserving and conserving the state’s snakes, as they play an important role in the health of Colorado’s ecosystems.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any poisonous snakes in Colorado?
Yes, there are several species of venomous snakes in Colorado, including the Prairie Rattlesnake, the Western Rattlesnake, the Massasauga Rattlesnake, the Great Basin Rattlesnake, and the Northern Copperhead. These snakes inhabit a variety of habitats throughout the state, from mountain meadows to high desert areas. It is important to be aware of the presence of venomous snakes and to take the necessary precautions when outdoors.
What Types of Snakes Can Be Found in Colorado?
Colorado has a variety of snakes, ranging from the harmless garter snake to the venomous rattlesnake. The most common species include the bull snake, the racer, the gopher snake, the rattlesnake, the Great Basin garter snake, the western terrestrial garter snake, the midget faded rattlesnake, the western hognose, the plains black headed snake, the glossy snake, the western rat snake, and the western terrestrial garter snake. Colorado is also home to some rarer species, such as the Great Basin collared lizard and the regal horned lizard.
Do Snakes Live in All Parts of Colorado?
Snakes can be found in all parts of Colorado, including the Rocky Mountains and plains. The most common species of snakes in Colorado are the Bull Snake, Garter Snake, and Western Rattlesnake. The state also has a variety of other species, such as Striped Whipsnake, Western Hog-nosed Snake, and the Great Plains Rat Snake. Snakes are important components of Colorado’s natural ecosystem, helping to control rodent populations and providing food for predators.
How Can I Identify a Snake I See in Colorado?
To identify a snake in Colorado, look for the snake’s color, pattern, size, and shape. Colorado snakes range in color from gray, brown, and black, to yellow, green, and blue. Their patterns typically consist of stripes, spots, or blotches. Size can vary from less than a foot to over four feet long. Additionally, the shape of the head and the presence of a rattle at the end of the tail are distinguishing features.
What precautions should I take when encountering a snake in Colorado?
When encountering a snake in Colorado, it is important to remain calm and stay at least 6 feet away from the snake. Do not attempt to touch, handle, or move the snake as this could cause it to become defensive and strike. Never attempt to pick up a snake, as even non-venomous species can bite and cause injury. If you are walking in an area where snakes are known to live, wear boots and long pants to reduce the risk of a bite. If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately.
Colorado is home to a diverse range of snake species, with some of the more commonly found species including the bull snake, Great Basin gopher snake, western terrestrial garter snake, and western rat snake. All of these snakes are non-venomous, making them safe to observe and interact with in the wild. Snakes are an important part of the local ecology and help to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem.