Snakes are perhaps the most maligned animals in Kentucky. Yet these animals have fascinating life histories, exhibit beautiful color patterns and play critical ecological roles in Kentucky’s environment. Of the 33 snake species found in Kentucky, only four are venomous. Venomous snakes include the Copperhead, Western Cottonmouth (water moccasin), Timber Rattlesnake, and Pigmy Rattlesnake. While venomous snakes should be respected and approached with caution, most snakes encountered in Kentucky are harmless and beneficial because they eat mice and other rodents.
The goal of this website is to help educate Kentuckians about an interesting group of animals that are important to our natural heritage. Specifically, this website allows the user the ability to identify snakes that they may encounter while experiencing Kentucky’s forests, prairies, wetlands, rivers and even their own backyards. We have tried to develop tools that will make the process of identification easy; however, we appreciate any suggestions or comments from the users. Snake species can be searched based on geographic region (i.e., where were you when you encountered the snake?) as well as other characteristics, such as shape of head or body or color and pattern. For a quick reference, we provide images and accounts of all the non-venomous and venomous snakes found in Kentucky. Although care must be taken approaching and identifying our four venomous snake species, we encourage Kentuckians to carefully observe snakes in their natural habitats; many of the characteristics we focus on can be observed from a safe distance. Take some time and read the species accounts for each of our snakes. It is our belief learning about their natural history and conservation status, you will begin to appreciate these interesting animals.