Are black snakes poisonous?- or venomous?

Are black snakes poisonous

A lot of different species of snakes could have full black coloration; however, taxonomically, “black snakes” refers to a specific genus of snakes sharing some peculiar traits. Are black snakes poisonous? Here is the answer.

Black snakes are not poisonous; they wouldn’t cause you any real harm. However, just like any other snake, they can bite if they feel threatened or trapped. Do you want to find out more about black snakes? Don’t worry; we will explain all about black snakes in this article.

Are black snakes venomous?

A lot of people confuse poisonous with venomous. We already answered that black snakes are not poisonous. Poison refers to harmful substances that can cause harm when they get into the body either through swallowing, inhaling, or absorption through the skin. Except if you’re trying to ingest (eat) a snake, it won’t cause harm to you in a “poisonous way”. On the other hand, venom refers to harmful substances that can cause harm when they get into the body through injection. When snakes bite, they have the ability to inject venom into the victim. So back to the question: are black snakes venomous?

The answer is no. Black snakes are not venomous. They can bite if they feel threatened; however, their bites have no venom in them. Let’s look more into the behavior of black snakes.

What are black snakes? 

What are black snakes? The nomenclature “black snakes” may be confusing for many people. For some, black snakes may mean any snake having a black coloration. However, for “herpetologists” (i.e., animal biologists specializing in reptiles) and many snake enthusiasts, black snakes are a category of snakes. They’re not just any snakes with a black coloration. For example, someone can refer to the black-colored African forest cobras as black snakes, but they’re not. Black snakes are scientifically called “Pseudechis genus”. They fall under the Elapidae family of snakes. They are closely related to other members of the Elapid family, like cobras and mambas.

Black snakes (i.e., the Pseudechis genus family of snakes) have nine species of snakes in their family. The names of most of the species in this genus have the word “black” included in their common name. 

It is important to note that some other genera and families of snakes have the word “black” included in their common names but are not “black snakes.” For example, the black-necked spitting cobra and the black mamba have the word “black” attached to their names, but they’re not “black snakes.”

Black snake appearance

black snake

Black snakes have shiny black bodies with the exception of the belly and chin, which are usually white in color. They are very long snakes—one of the longest in North America. They can grow up to eight feet long, but they are usually five feet on average.

Black snake habitat

When people talk about black snakes, they usually refer to black rat snakes or rat snakes. They are usually found in the central and eastern United States, as well as in some parts of Canada. They are very common in states like North Carolina, Louisiana, and South Carolina.

Black rat snakes like to live in places such as plains, forests, farmlands, and rocky hills. They can also be found in abandoned structures like buildings, cars, construction sites, and storage facilities.

What do black snakes eat?

Black snakes usually prey on smaller animals like rats, mice, chipmunks, voles, and squirrels. They’re very good hunters, they can swim, and they can climb trees. They climb trees to feed on bird eggs or even birds themselves. Younger black snakes feed on tree frogs and lizards. They’re opportunistic feeders, so they can eat a wide range of small animals that they come across. They are constrictors, so their mode of hunting is by construction or suffocation.

Are black snakes dangerous? 

Black snakes are not dangerous to humans, but they have the capacity to bite if they feel threatened, provoked, or cornered. Their bite is neither venomous nor fatal; however, it will definitely hurt. The mouths of black snakes contain bacteria, so their bites have the potential to cause secondary infections. If you happen to be bitten by a black snake, it is necessary to contact a physician in order to prevent secondary infections from bacteria.

Black snakes are calm, nonaggressive, and docile; honestly speaking, they are harmless snakes. They are so shy that they normally avoid confrontation with humans if they have an escape route. Apart from avoiding human confrontation, black snakes have the ability to emit a musty-smelling pheromone in order to deter predators from harming them.

Black snakes are loved by farmers; they’re used as a form of pest control against pests like rodents that destroy grains and harvest.

Are black snakes good pets?

Yes. Because of their calm, shy, and docile nature, black snakes make good pet snakes in the United States.

Apart from their docile nature, they’re easy to care for, and they have low temperature requirements. They have long life spans. They can live up to 15 years in the wild and longer in captivity.

If you choose to have a black pet, you will need a very large enclosure to house them comfortably. This is because they are usually large and love to climb around.

How to avoid black snake bites

Unless they sense a threat, black snakes are unlikely to bite humans. As a result, the best approach to avoiding a bite is to simply leave them alone. Black snakes may bite for reasons, such as improper handling or capture. Another reason they may bite is if they smell the fragrance of their last prey on your hand. 

What to do if you meet a black snake in the wild

Since black snakes are not aggressive, it is best to leave them alone if you encounter them in the wild.

Try to keep a distance; do not try to attack it. If it sees you, it will most likely move away. However, it can also release a musky odor to scare you away.

When they feel threatened, black snakes coil up with their heads raised. If you see them in this position, it means they feel threatened and might strike at any moment.

Black snakes can also be found around human habitation, especially on chicken farms or in areas infested with rodents. If you happen to find an unidentifiable snake in your residence, it is best to quietly call for the services of a snake control company.

Are all black-colored snakes venomous?

No. Not all black-colored snakes are venomous. Some are, while others are not. The type of black-colored snakes you encounter depends on the region of the world where you live. For example, if you live in the United States, you won’t encounter any venomous or dangerous black-colored snakes. Typical black-colored snakes in America are the black rat snake and the black racers. Examples of black-colored venomous snakes are the African forest cobra and the black-necked spitting cobra.


Taxonomically, “black snakes” are neither venomous nor poisonous. They are known to be docile, quiet, and harmless. They don’t prey on or attack humans, so if you notice them in the wild, it is best to leave them alone. It has been observed that most poisonous and venomous snakes have yellow-green eyes with smaller, vertical pupils in the middle, whereas non-venomous snake species have more rounded pupils.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *