Snakes strike fear in the heart of many, but most of the 42 species of snakes found in South Carolina are harmless, and only only six species are venomous. Out of these, only the coral snake has distinctive black and yellow markings along its body. By nature, snakes do not seek out people or inhabited areas and are mostly completely harmless and only bite in self-defense. With the expansion of cities and suburbs into snake habitat, many people come in contact with snakes in their every day lives. Savannah River and Ecology Laboratory advises people to always keep a safe distance from snakes, and never attempt to handle or kill them.
Eastern Ribbon Snake
Eastern ribbon Snakes (Thamnophis sauritus) are long, thin snakes, that have a black body and two thin yellow stripes on the sides and one on the back. On average, the length of the snake is 16 to 28 inches. The belly of the snake is pale yellow in color. Eastern ribbon snakes are not venomous and like to live by lakes, bogs and salt marshes. Most commonly it can be found in the Piedmont and coastal plain areas of the state. Two subspecies of the eastern ribbon snake also inhabit South Carolina, Thamnophis sauritus sauritus and Thamnophis sauritus sackenii.
Eastern Coral Snake
Eastern coral Snakes (Micrurus fulvius) are venomous snakes who hunt other snakes and lizards. They can grow up to 4 feet in length and have distinctive black, yellow and red rings. The snake is not easily detected, as it tends to spend most of its time underground. This has helped the snake to become prevalent in the suburbs, as it can only usually be spotted in the spring and fall. Eastern coral snakes prefer hardwood and pine and scrub oak sand hills as their living areas. This is the only type of eastern species of snake that has two front fangs in their mouths.
Eastern king snakes (Lampropeltis getula) have black bodies and yellow chain link stripes along the back and sides. They have a shiny and smooth in appearance. They are considered large snakes with lengths of 36 to 48 inches and are not venomous. Commonly the snake is also referred to as a chain king snake, because of the pattern along its body. Eastern king snakes inhabit all areas of South Carolina. They live in many areas, such as swamps, wetlands, and even towns. They eat lizards, birds and rodents and tame easily. It is not uncommon to find eastern king snakes as pets.
Ringneck Snakes (Diadophis punctatus) have dark bodies and a yellow ring around its neck. The snakes bodies also have a yellow underside. Considered a small snakes, their bodies can grow up to 25 inches in length. Ringneck snakes prefer woodland areas and are not venomous. They also prefer to hide under rocks. For food, they hunt lizards, amphibians and other snakes. This type of snake is very common in the Piedmont and coastal plain areas. Ringneck snakes spend most of their lives underground, but do surface, especially at night.