Whether it's hiking, camping, or fishing, as you head out to enjoy outdoor recreation you need to be aware that you aren't the only one enjoying the warmer temperatures.

Spending Time Outdoors Means Potential for Snake Encounters


The arrival of spring and summer means the possibility of a snake encounter when you are enjoying time in nature. There are a number of snake species that call Tennessee home. And while most of the snake species in Tennessee are harmless to humans, there are a few species that are actually venomous.


Indiscriminately Killing Snakes is Illegal in Tennessee

As it turns out, regardless of species, all snakes in Tennessee are considered to be protected and it is illegal to kill them unless they pose an immediate threat to your health.

Unless posing an immediate health threat, all snakes in Tennessee are protected and indiscriminate killing is illegal. - University of Tennessee

Snakes Are Important for the Tennessee Ecosystem

Snakes are important creatures and they play an important role in our ecosystem. They are excellent at managing the rodent population and they provide a source of food for other predators like bobcats, coyotes, hawks, and owls.

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There are 32 Species of Snakes in Tennessee

There are 32 species of snakes that call Tennessee home, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, most of which are non-venomous. The University of Tennessee says that the non-venomous snakes have "round pupils" and they say the scales found "on the underside of the tail are divided in two." The 28 species of non-venomous snakes found in Tennessee include:



Common Gartersnake

Common Kingsnake

DeKay's Brownsnake

Diamond-backed Watersnake

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Eastern Ribbonsnake

Gray Ratsnake



Mississippi Green Watersnake

North American Racer

Northern Watersnake


Plain-Bellied Watersnake


Red-Bellied Mudsnake

Red-Bellied Snake

Red Cornsnake

Ring-necked Snake

Rough Earthsnake

Rough Greensnake



Smooth Earthsnake

Southeastern Crowned Snake

Southern Watersnake

Queen Snake

Western Ribbonsnake


Yellow-Bellied Kingsnake


Only Four Venomous Species of Snakes in Tennessee


If you're like me and don't want to get close enough to see if its scales are divided or its pupils are round, then it may be much easier to just remember that there are four species of venomous snakes in Tennessee. All four venomous species in Tennessee fall into the category known as "pit vipers."

The pit (small hole), located between the nostril and the eye, are actually heat sensors used to detect warm-blooded prey in low-light conditions. - University of Tennessee

Where Venomous Snakes are Found in Tennessee

Of the four venomous snakes in Tennessee, only two of them are found throughout the entire state. The other two are only found in the western region of the state.


Copperhead (sometimes called a Highland Moccasin) is found throughout Tennesse


Cottonmouth (sometimes called a Water Moccasin) is found in Western Tennessee


Timber Rattlesnake (including a species known as a canebreak rattlesnake) is found throughout Tennessee


Pygmy Rattlesnake is found in Western Tennessee.

What To Do If You Encounter a Snake in Tennessee

If you encounter a snake in the wild, your best bet is going to be to leave it alone. If you are bitten by a snake, you should seek medical treatment immediately. According to The University of Tennessee, of the approximately 50,000 snakebites annually in the United States, only 10-12 of those result in death, and those that do are the result of bites from snakes not found in Tennessee. They say more people die from wasp stings and lightning strikes than venomous snake bites.

[Source: University of Tennessee]

LOOK: Here are the 25 best places to live in Tennessee

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in Tennessee using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather. Cities, suburbs, and towns were included. Listings and images are from realtor.com.

On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

A Unique Tennessee Getaway, The Smoky Mountain Pirate Ship

Located on Douglas Lake in Tennessee, sits a rather unconventional houseboat. What makes this houseboat unconventional is it's been modeled to look like a pirate ship, complete with masts, skeletons, portholes, and more! If you're wanting a Smoky Mountain getaway like no other, this is certainly a good option. See the full VRBO listing, here.


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