There are over 3,000 species of snakes around the world and they’re everywhere except Iceland, Ireland, Greenland, New Zealand, and of course, Antarctica.
An impressive 600 or so species are venomous, with an even more impressive 200 or so species capable of killing or significantly wounding a human. The metro Phoenix area alone is home to more species of rattlesnake than any other city in the country.
Venomous or not, one thing that makes snakes even more frightening is that almost all species eat their food whole – and yes, for larger species of snakes that means humans too.
With its warm temperatures and diverse landscapes, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of snakes in Arizona and that over 50 species of it call it home. Below would be just some of the most common venomous snakes you’ll encounter in the state.
If encountered, it is important to leave them alone and give them a wide berth. If found on your property, get in touch with a professional who can remove or kill it for you (note that some species are protected).
It’s also important to keep an eye on the snake before a professional arrives – they’re often aware that they’ve been spotted and may hold still and remain silent, only to flee and hide when you’ve walked away (they only rattle when threatened, and not necessarily when you’re just in the vicinity looking at them). While a professional should be able to track them down again after they’ve fled, that isn’t guaranteed.
Arizona Black Rattlesnake
These snakes can grow 15 inches and up to 65 inches in length. Younger snakes are typically a tan or gray color with brown splotches or circles. Mature snakes are often black with thin white, yellow, or orange cross bars on its back.
Their diet includes rodents, birds, amphibians, and other reptiles.
These snakes are quite venomous, and should be left alone.
This large-bodied rattlesnake can grow 28 up to 49 inches in body length. They may be brown with orange, yellow, or green patterned stripes but are distinguishable from other rattlesnakes by the uniformly dark tail just before the rattle.
Their diet consists of small mammals.
Although usually mild-mannered, Blacktailed rattlesnakes are venomous and will defend itself when threatened.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
These are one of the most common snakes you may encounter in Arizona, and they can grow 30 up to 84 inches in body length. They are gray or tan in color, with large diamond-shaped brown markings lined with white on their back. They have white and black stripes on their tail that are equal in size.
Their diet includes small mammals, birds, and lizards.
They’re quick to be defensive and are considered generally more aggressive than the other snakes listed here.
Western Coral Snake
These are small, slender snakes, growing only 13 up to 21 inches in body length. They’re brightly-colored with red and black bands separated by narrower yellow or cream bands.
Their diet includes lizards and small snakes.
They are considered to be generally non-aggressive, and while they’re small, their venom is highly toxic.
If you encounter any of these snakes, remember to steer clear of them. And if you find them on your property, contact a professional service to remove them for you.
For more information on snakes and other reptiles – where they live, where they hide, and so much more – check out our Pest Encyclopedia.