Snakes

Banner Corn Snake C Cathy Hoyt

Natural History

There are 30 snake species in Virginia and only three of them are venomous. The Robins Nature Center is home to four of the 30 native snake species and can be found throughout the exhibit or in the Discovery Room. These include the corn snake, eastern black rat snake, pine snake, and eastern kingsnake. In general, snakes have a poor sense of sight and hearing, so they rely on their sense of smell and taste. They also use their bellies to pick up on vibrations to detect predators. All snakes have teeth but only venomous snakes have fangs.

Our corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus) are named Marco and Pop and serve as animal ambassadors. Corn snakes are found throughout Virginia and are frequently mistaken for northern copperheads and are, unfortunately, often killed. These snakes are rather secretive and burrow. Their diet consists of rodents, fledgling birds, and small lizards.

The eastern black rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniesis) is both a ground and tree-dwelling snake that can be found in urban and rural areas throughout Virginia. These snakes are active during the day (diurnal) and night (nocturnal).

The pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus), also called a bull snake in the Midwest, is a secretive and burrowing snake. Since they are a burrowing snake, they prey upon moles, voles, and other underground dwellers. When threatened, pine snakes will loudly hiss, puff up, vibrate their tails, either in dry brush or independently, expel musk, and will occasionally strike.

Maymont’s eastern kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula) was named Rex by staff members. Kingsnakes are completely terrestrial and diurnal. They prey upon other snakes such as pit vipers as well as rodents and lizards. These snakes can be found in the coastal plains and Piedmont regions of Virginia. It was once thought that seeing or killing a kingsnake would cause a thunderstorm.

SCIENTIFIC NAME
Pantherophis guttatus, Pantherophis alleghaniesisPituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus, Lampropeltis getula getula

CLASS
Reptilia

FAMILY
Colubridae

DIET
Rodents, small mammals, lizards, frogs, birds, insects, snakes

SIZE
13 to 102 in

HABITAT & RANGE
Forests, mountains, grasslands and wetlands of the United States

Fun Facts

  • Of the Virginia snake species, 16 lay eggs and 14 give birth to live offspring (ovoviparous).
  • The black racer is the only snake that will “chase” you. This usually happens when you are blocking access to their burrow or if you are in the territory of a breeding male.
  • The longest snake in Virginia is the black rat, reaching up to 102 inches or 8.5 feet long!
  • Snakes are reptiles, which means they lay eggs (mostly), have a scaly skin, are cold-blooded, and are vertebrates.
  • They shed their skin when they outgrow their current size.
  • If you come to the Robins Nature Center, the non-venomous snake you’re likely to see is Carl, the eastern black rat snake, who has lived at Maymont since 2017. These snakes are known for living both on land and in trees, and are the longest snakes in Virginia.
  • Maymont is also home to corn snakes Marco and Pop, who serve as our animal ambassadors for environmental education. Corn snakes are brightly colored snakes that, ironically, are secretive burrowing snakes.
  • While the 3 venomous snakes of Virginia rely on the venom in their fangs to subdue their prey, Virginia’s non-venomous snakes are constrictors, who squeeze their prey before swallowing them whole.

Adopt an Animal

Did you know it takes $500,000 each year to feed and care for the animals at Maymont? Your support of the Maymont Adopt an Animal Program helps provide food, care and enrichment to keep the rescued animals active, healthy and engaged.