The Most Common Snakes You'll Find in California

Around 33 types of snakes can be found in California and 6 of them will carry venom. All venomous snakes in California are species of rattlesnakes. Though it may be natural for us to be startled or frightened by their presence, having the skills to identify them will help us understand how to deal with these snakes. It will also reduce the number of non-venomous snakes that are killed since they are being mistaken for their venomous counterpart.

List of Common Snakes You May Encounter in California

You need to remember that Carlsbad snakes can differ based on their appearance and habit. The pictures that you will see online can also differ from their actual appearance. You should not only think about the color of the snake when identifying them.

Gopher Snake

The Carlsbad gopher snake is one of the most common snakes that you will come across in North California. Due to their appearance, it is not uncommon for people to mistake them for a rattlesnake. This snake can vary in color from dark brown to gray. It will also have brown or black spot all over its body. Compared to other snake, the gopher snake is considered diurnal. Therefore, they will be hunting during the day and will rest at night. When the snake feels that it’s threatened, the gopher snake will be flattening its body and will rattle its tail. 


The coachwhip has a long and slender body. They have large eyes and they can vary in terms of their pattern and color. Usually, the coachwhip will have red colors in their body. This snake will immediately flee the site than to confront the humans once they have been discovered. It is known for its curiosity and has a habit of lifting its head above the shrubs or the grass in order to have a better view of the terrain or landscape. The bite of this snake is harmless but will be tremendously painful.

Sharp-Tailed Snake

While the sharp barb located at the edge of this Carlsbad snake’s tail may appear dangerous, it does not have the capacity to hurt humans. It also does not contain any toxic compound. This is simply a protruding remain of their vertebra. The sharp-tailed snake has a unique defense mode against predator. They will play dead once the human discover them under the piles of woods or rocks. The top part of the snake can change depending on the color of its surrounding. 

California Kingsnake

This is a popular choice of the pet owners. It can be found throughout the Northern section of California. While it is non-venomous, other snakes tend to stay away from them since snakes belong in their natural diet which includes venomous snakes. When the animal has been disturbed, it will mimic the rattlesnake by rattling its tail.

When encountering a snake in California, you should avoid panicking. As you can see, most of the snakes that you will come across in this state are harmless. Nonetheless, you should still remain careful and stay away from them. 

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