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Identifying Brown Snakes in Tennessee

By Charity Corkey
A brown snake in Tennessee curls on a tree branch.

The state of Tennessee is home to 32 species of snakes, four of which are venomous. If bitten by a snake in Tennessee, doctors advise victims to stay calm and urge them to seek medical attention as soon as possible. While most venomous snake bites are not fatal, it is important to treat the wound quickly and properly. Most brown snakes in Tennessee are not venomous.

Ring-necked Snake

Diadophis punctatus, or the ring-necked snake, is a medium-brown snake with one distinctive cream-colored ring around it's neck just below the head. The ring-necked snake's venom is mildly toxic, and the adults typically grow between 25 and 38 centimeters. The snake's primary habitat is flatland forests, and it prefers dense, covered areas.

Rough Earthsnake

The rough earthsnake, or Virginia striatula, is part of the colobrid snake family and typically grows no longer than 10 inches. The rough earthsnake is a light brown with a cream-white colored underbelly, and is not venomous. Due to their small size, mouth and teeth, the snakes pose virtually no danger to humans.

Queen Snake

The queen snake, or Regina septemvittata, is a striking rich, dark brown with thick cream-colored stripes running down its side and underbelly. The queen snake is also a member of the colubrid family, and is nonvenomous. The eyes of the queen snake have black, round pupils and the snake typically grows to an adult length of 2 feet.

Smooth Earthsnake

Like its relative the rough earthsnake, the smooth earthsnake -- or Virginia valeriae -- is a thin, light brown snake with a cream-colored underbelly. The species is non-venomous and only reaches around 10 inches at adulthood. Unlike the rough earthsnake, which has bumpy scales, the smooth earthsnake's scales are soft and slippery.

About the Author

Charity Corkey has a B.A. in print journalism and more than four years of writing and journalism experience - including her work as a former writer and online producer for The Washington Post and The Washington Times. She is now a media coordinator for a Virginia nonprofit that provides assistance to injured troops.