Squamata

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)


Family Colubridae

Northern Scarletsnake

Common Name:

Northern Scarletsnake


Scientific Name:

Cemophora coccinea copei

Photo of Adult Northern Scarletsnake courtesy of John White
Photo of Adult Northern Scarletsnake courtesy of John White


Size:
14 - 20 inches. Record - 32½ inches.

Appearance:
  • Mimics the color and pattern of the venomous Eastern Coral Snake, however this non-venomous species has black separating the narrow yellow (sometimes white) blotches and broad red blotches (vs. “red with yellow, a dangerous fellow”).
  • It has a pointed red snout and a plain white or yellow belly.
  • Scales are not keeled.

Habitats:

In or near loose well-drained sandy soils, typically in pine-dominated woods.

Habitat Photo for Northern Scarletsnake - courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Habitat Photo for
Northern Scarletsnake
courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

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How to Find:

A secretive burrowing species that little is known about, it is rarely found during daylight. Look under coarse woody debris in pine woodlands. Most individuals are observed by driving slowly along paved roads through pine woods in late spring and summer. Non-venomous. This is considered rare in the state and is listed as a Watchlist species. Any individuals found should be reported to DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.


Distribution in Maryland:

Found only on the Coastal Plain.​

Northern Scarletsnake - Distribution in Maryland