Other common names

Short-tailed Snake

Basic description

Most adult Short-tailed Kingsnakes are about 14-20 inches (36-51 cm) in total length. These are extremely slender gray snakes with a pattern of black blotches or spots. The light-colored spaces between the black spots on the back often have an orange center giving the impression of an indistinct orange stripe running down the back. The blunt head is very small and roughly the same diameter as the body. The top of the head is dark brown or black. Juvenile coloration is similar to that described for adults.

grey, black, and yellow snake on sand
Short-tailed Kingsnake. Photo courtesy of Noah Mueller.


Short-tailed Kingsnakes occur throughout much of upland northern central Florida, west of the St. Johns River. It is not found outside of Florida

Assessment of risk to people and pets

Non-venomous. Short-tailed Kingsnakes are not dangerous to people or pets. They avoid direct contact with people and pets.

Comparison with other species

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) Venomous Pygmy Rattlesnakes have a large head and distinct neck, a relatively thick body, and a small rattle on the tip of the tail.

two images side by side - Image 1: coiled snake with black and grey spots and a red stripe down the center of its back. Image 2: grey, black, and yellow snake on sand
Pygmy Rattlesnake. Photo courtesy of Todd Pierson.
Short-tailed Kingsnake. Photo courtesy of Noah Mueller.


Share your observations

You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.

Additional helpful information

Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.

Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions.

Banner photo courtesy of Noah Mueller. Please credit any photographers on the page and see our copyright policy.