Kentucky Snake Identification
Kentucky Snake Identification




The following are a listing of venomous snakes in Kentucky.

Characteristic Descriptions


In Kentucky, the black part in the center of the eye (pupil) of harmless snakes is round. Venomous snakes have egg-shaped or cat-like (elliptical) pupils.

Example images of the different pupil shapes in snakes (round/non-vertical and vertical)

Head Shape

Venomous snakes usually have a triangular (wide at the back and attached to a narrow neck) or 'spade-shaped' head. Be aware that many non-venomous snakes, such as watersnakes, flatten their heads when threatened and may be confused with venomous snakes.

Example of the different head shapes in snakes in Kentucky

Example of the different head shapes in snakes in Kentucky

Kentucky’s snake species exhibit wide variability in body shape. Some species are thick, stocky and heavy-bodied for their length; these snakes include our pit viper species, eastern hognose snakes, some of the watersnakes and others. Other species are usually slender for their length. Slender species include rough greensnakes, several of the woodland snakes (wormsnakes, ringneck snakes, red-bellied snakes), black racers and ribbonsnakes. While body shapes are often generalizable for a given species, occasionally snake species deviate from their typical shapes. For example, it is not uncommon to find slender or moderately-shaped northern watersnakes. It is best to use body shape in association with other characteristics to identify your snake.

Examples of the different body types of Kentucky's snake species

Publication Available

Click the "View Publication" button below to view our Venomous Snakes of Kentucky (FORFS18-02) publication.

View Publication

Venomous Snakes

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)
Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)