There are 33 different species of snakes that call California home. This might seem alarming, but most of them are harmless. Only six of the 33 species are venomous, and all six are types of rattlesnakes.
California is a large state with many different climates – meaning different species of snakes. Many species are similar in appearance and may be hard to tell apart. Snakes of the same species don’t always look the same. Their colors and patterns will vary. It is important to know basic characteristics of these snakes in order to interpret if you should keep your distance.
This snake is better known as the Crotalus Oreganus. It is the most common venomous snake found in California. The Crotalus Oreganus is a venomous pit viper species that can be found almost anywhere in the state, aside from southern deserts. Their size can vary drastically. An average adult is around three feet long, but some can be longer than five feet.
This snake is better known as the Crotalus Atrox. It is considered the most dangerous snake found in California due to its aggressive characteristics and large size. A majority of snake bites from this predator result in death. This snake ranks at number 2 for most common bites resulting in a fatality in the U.S. One way to be able to identify this snake is the multiple diamond-shaped blotches near the tail. If you see one of these, definitely stay away!
A majority of the snakes found in California are not venomous. They also aren’t dangerous to humans, if encountered. Like this one, for instance:
Gopher snakes are very common in the state of California and are non-venomous. These snakes are typically found in yards and gardens, and they are completely harmless. Gopher snakes are good to keep around because they help with the rodent population and keep local ecosystems in check. These snakes can get very large, sometimes up to eight feet long! Many people confuse them with rattlesnakes. Gopher snakes have very round eyes, while rattlesnakes have vertical, cat-like pupils.