Snakes of Louisiana

This web site is intended to provide information to the public concerning snakes native to Louisiana. Much of the content has been taken from Snakes of Louisiana by Jeff Boundy. This book provides a more detailed analysis of the subject and is available from the Office of the Louisiana Conservationist

For more informtion contact Jeff Boundy


Snakes are a fascinating part of Louisiana's natural heritage, but are also a source of much worry and fear among Louisiana residents and visitors. Most of Louisiana's snakes are harmless, and many are beneficial as predators of insects and rodents, as a source of income for reptile collectors, and as a necessary component of the food chain or "balance of nature." The fear of snakes in general, and particularly the venomous species, can be alleviated by understanding the behavior of snakes, and the limits of the threat they may pose to humans.

Snakes are an important component of the ecosystem as predators and as prey for other wildlife. They tend to be secretive, and when not searching for food or mates will usually remain hidden. Some snakes, particularly small ones, will feed almost daily, while large snakes may feed only once every week or two. During the mating season, usually in spring or early fall, male snakes may travel extensively to search for mates. During the warmer part of the year many snakes become nocturnal and are infrequently encountered by humans.

Snakes are not aggressive except when defending themselves. They do not pursue people, although they may swim or crawl toward someone they don't recognize as a threat. Venomous snakes are unable to strike a distance more than their body length, even less for large rattlesnakes. Thus, a distance of only five or six feet can be considered "safe" for any venomous snake in Louisiana. Despite the quickness of some snakes such as racers and coachwhips, they cannot crawl faster than five miles per hour, and can be easily outdistanced by a person.

The chief enemies of snakes are predators (hawks, owls, wild pigs, skunks, etc.), humans, automobiles, and habitat destruction. Snake populations can be maintained against any of these odds except for the latter.