Snakes of Louisville, KY

Louisville snake

Welcome to! I am David, a snake enthusiast living in Louisville, KY. Many people don't know that Louisville is in fact full of snakes! You just need to know where to find them - they can often be shy and elusive. Some Kentucky snake species are more common outside of the city limits, in different parts of Jefferson County KY, but many types of snakes are indeed common in the more urban parts of Louisville. This guide is meant to help educate you about the beautiful snakes of Louisville, and to help you identify the most common snakes of Louisville, as well as the venomous snakes of Louisville that you should learn to recognize and avoid. If you want more detail, click here for my complete list of ALL snake species in Louisville. Remember the following:

  • Most snakes of Louisville are harmless and don't want to encounter you
  • Venomous snakes exist but are uncommon in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Snakes eat rats and mice and are a valuable part of the Kentucky ecosystem
  • Never kill a snake - if you leave a snake alone, it will leave you alone.

Common Snake Species in Louisville

Louisville snake Black Rat Snake: Also referred to as the Pantherophis obsoletus or the western rat snake, the black rat snake is a large non-venomous snake. It usually grows up to 6 feet in length (180 cm). As the name suggests, the black rat snake has a very dark color on its back, which contrasts with the white-ish lips and underside. They can become fairly aggressive when threatened. They favor heavily wooded areas, and are constrictors, meaning they squeeze the life out of their victims (pretty much any small vertebrate).

Louisville snake Broad-Banded Water Snake: Officially the Nerodia fasciata confluens, the banded water snake is an aquatic type of non-venomous snake. It usually grows up to around 40 inches (or just over 100 cm) and usually has a dark grayish color, with even darker crossbands. Sometimes, the base color and the crossbands are indistinguishable from one another. Its appearance sadly means it’s often mistaken for the venomous cottonmouth and subsequently killed. The broad-banded water snake usually feeds on fish and frogs and interestingly enough, gives birth to live snakes (rather than eggs).

Louisville snake Brown Snake: The brown snake (Storeria dekayi) is, as its name suggests, a deeply dark, earthy-colored snake, with the base ranging from brown to gray and the back being dotted by small black spots. The brown snake is a very small serpent, with the fully-grown adult usually not measuring more than 12 inches (30 cm). Because of its small size, the brown snake often is preyed upon by larger snakes. Their diet mainly consists of snails and slugs, with their jaws having a special ability to actually remove the snail from its hard shell.

Venomous Snake Species in Louisville

Louisville snake Copperhead: The copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrixi) is a type of pit viper, as is the case for all venomous snakes in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a fairly small pit viper, averaging about 37 inches (or 90 cm), and is mostly non-aggressive. It’s recognizable by its earthy brown colors and the darker crossbands that resemble an hourglass. It usually gives out a “warning bite” that lacks venom, to scare potential predators.

Louisville snake Cottonmouth: The western cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma), also sometimes referred to as the water moccasin due to its proclivity for watery areas, is a small pit viper. It usually doesn’t grow past 27 inches (70 cm) and its colors tend to be dark earthy tones. The cottonmouth darkens with age and old snakes tend to be fully black. When startled or threatened, the western cottonmouth gapes its mouth wide, so as to threaten predators.

Louisville snake Pigmy Rattlesnake: Also known as Sistrurus miliarius streckeri, the western pygmy rattlesnake is, as its name suggests, a remarkably small type of pit viper. The adult pygmy rattlesnake usually doesn’t grow past 25 inches (roughly 60 - 63 cm). It’s usually easily distinguishable because of its precise yet erratic color pattern. The back of the pygmy rattlesnakes is noticeable because of the dark blotches that are wider than they are long and that contrast the fairly light base color.

Louisville snake Timber Rattlesnake: The timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is easily one of the most distributed venomous snakes in the entirety of the United States. It grows bigger than the other pit vipers of Kentucky, with the average male measuring around 60 inches (150 cm). The base color of the timber rattlesnake is a yellowish-brown and is usually marked by darker, brown splotches. Although it’s a fairly mild, docile snake, the timber rattlesnake is highly dangerous because of its high venom yield and the venom’s potency. The timber rattlesnake, as its name suggests, prefers woodland areas, and typically feeds on small mammals.

If you're unsure, you can email me a photo of the snake at and I will email you back with the snake's species. If you found a snake skin, read my Found a Skin? page, and you can email me a photo of the skin, and I'll identify the snake for you. If you need professional Louisville snake removal help, click my Get Help page, or see the below website sponsor I found, who provides that service.

Remember, the term is not poisonous snakes of Louisville, it's venomous snakes of Louisville. Poison is generally something you eat, and venom is injected into you. That said, dangerous snakes are very rare in Louisville. The few venomous snakes of Jefferson County are rarely seen. But they are commonly misidentified, so learn about all the snake species of Louisville in order to correctly identify them. These snakes are usually also found in the surrounding towns of Jeffersontown, Saint Matthews, Shively, Middletown, Hurstbourne, Anchorage, Indian Hills, Lyndon, Audubon Park, Glenview, Douglass Hills, Fincastle, West Buechel, Graymoor-Devondale, Watterson Park, Heritage Creek, Barbourmeade, Windy Hills, Brownsboro Farm, Blue Ridge Manor, Strathmoor Village, Rolling Hills, Meadow Vale, Riverwood, Mockingbird Valley, Saint Regis Park, Bellewood, Hurstbourne Acres, Beechwood Village, Broeck Pointe, Houston Acres, Forest Hills, Hollow Creek, Brownsboro Village, Coldstream and the surrounding areas.

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